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Korea's largest ecological park to open next month

South Korea's largest ecological park will open on Jan. 2 to boost public awareness of the environment and biodiversity, officials said Wednesday.

The state-run National Institute of Ecology in Seocheon, South Chungcheong Province, will display some 46,000 specimens from 4,500 plant species and 4,200 specimens from 240 animal species in its Ecorium exhibition center.

Some 326.4 billion won (US$308 million) has been spent on the construction of the facility on a 1 million-square-kilometer plot of land.

The center has been in limited operation since May. Its official opening ceremony will be held on Friday, with Prime Minister Chung Hong-won and Environment Minister Yoon Seong-kyu in attendance.

Choe Jae-chun, biologist and chair-professor of the EcoScience Division at Ewha Womans University, is serving as the first director of the park.

Choe is a renowned expert in the field who received a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from Harvard University and established the Biodiversity Foundation with Jane Goodall this year.

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