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Asia's top film festival is troubled by rainwater leaks at its lavish new multiplex
BUSAN, South Korea (AP) ' Organizers of Asia's top film festival vowed that its closing ceremony would still go ahead Friday despite rainwater leaking into the lavish new multiplex that has been the showpiece for this year's event.
Rainwater poured from at least a dozen cracks Friday in the Busan Cinema Center, a $156-million theater that has hosted the Busan International Film Festival since last week ' worrying movie fans and prompting organizers to express regret and convene an emergency meeting.
The building has been the pride of South Korean organizers through the nine-day festival. But its construction was completed only late last month, and festival director Lee Yong-kwan acknowledged Friday that there were still structural problems in the building.
Organizers and construction workers scrambled to stop the leaks throughout much of the day. Many of the leaks were found in a western section of the building called Double Cone, an ultramodern structure whose silvery corridors extend above the ground. At least one corridor was seen profusely leaking water, prompting crowds below to worry.
"It makes me anxious and scared," said Lee Yong-beom, a 31-year-old South Korean movie fan. Lee said he also saw water leaking inside the northern section of the multiplex.
That part of the building was later closed to the public. Security guards declined to say why. Journalists also reported cracks widening at a press center in the building's southern section.
Cho Ho-yeon, 31, said she was reconsidering attending final events at the theater due to worries. Sigrid Kerschbaum, a 35-year-old tourist from Austria, rapped organizers and constructors for not having foreseen the problem.
Kim Jung-yun, a spokeswoman for the festival, said organizers have held an emergency meeting on the leaks. But she said they will stick with their plan to hold a closing ceremony. She expected the rain to taper off and said that the venue hosting the ceremony didn't have leaks.
Festival director Lee blamed Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Co. for the cracks. The South Korean company, which built the theater, declined to comment, saying it had to investigate the holes first.
About 30 millimeters (1.2 inches) of rain has fallen in the South Korean port city since early Friday, according to the country's weather agency. It forecast that the rain would let up in the evening.