Recent news that panda cubs have been born at the US National Zoo, reminded me that we had our own panda mania in Korea this summer.
In June and July the awareness project 1600+ pandas came to Korea. Here is the official explanation for the art installation:
<1600 PANDAS+> is a collaboration which began in 2008 between WWF-France and artist Paulo Grangeon, who handcrafted 1600 pandas — the number of existing pandas left in the wild — with recycled materials to make papier-mâché sculptures. The title “1600 PANDAS+” refers not only to the increase in the population of wild giant pandas to over 1,800 in the past decade, but also to increased public awareness of wildlife conservation. After ruling nearly 100 exhibitions around the world, the pandas will land in Korea for the first time to promote the city’s creative industry by fostering a sustainable environment where humans and nature can successfully coexist.
In June the pandas wandered Korea and would appear in “flash mobs” at iconic spots. Though I had wanted to see them when they were on the move, it didn’t work out. However, they spent most of July at Lotte Mall. I briefly wondered if their final location was not a ploy by the Lotte Corporation in effort to convince the public that the still unfinished Lotte Tower is not going to collapse into a massive sinkhole. (I’m not positive that I’m convinced.)
I was really excited to see this exhibit, but it was a little disappointing. I mean, it’s a bunch of papier-mâché pandas. They are roped off, and there are only so many photos you can take. I did take a lot of pictures, and they are very cute pandas. Big pandas, small pandas, sitting panda, standing pandas, etc. I probably would have regretted going because I had built it up so much in my mind, so I am happy we went.
Is this scene supposed to represent the pressure pandas feel to mate? OUR ENTIRE SPECIES DEPENDS ON YOU! Or, maybe it’s just supposed to be cute.