Paramount to build $1 bln Korea theme park

SEOUL (Reuters) - Viacom Inc.'s VIA.N Paramount Pictures Corp. will build a $1 billion theme park in South Korea, the U.S. entertainment group's first amusement resort outside North America.

The Hollywood film producer, known for hits such as "Titanic" and "Mission Impossible", will build the resort with Daewoo Motor Sales Corp. 004550.KS in the airport city of Inchon, south of Seoul, aiming to lure a growing number of Asian tourists as well as South Korea's affluent population.

The two companies said in a joint news conference on Thursday they would invest 950 billion won ($1.03 billion) in the project, which will create the fourth amusement park by a U.S. entertainment group in Asia.

Walt Disney Co. DIS.N has Disneyland parks in Japan and Hong Kong, and Universal Studios, part of General Electric Co. GE.N, runs a theme park in Osaka, Japan.

The facility, to be located in Daewoo Sales’ 50-hectare plot in Inchon and will open in 2009, will feature rides, movie studios, a 300-room hotel, a water park, a media centre and shopping malls.

Construction will start this year and the whole park will be completed before the 2014 Asian Games to be held in Inchon.

The plan will make Paramount the first and only foreign entertainment firm to operate a theme park in South Korea. Two of the country’s biggest conglomerates, Lotte Group and Samsung Group, each have one theme park in Seoul.

Other Hollywood entertainment giants including MGM Studios and Universal Studios are also looking to make forays into South Korea.