Merlin Entertainments is expanding in Asia with plans for its first Legoland park in South Korea, one of the largest markets in the region for Lego toy sales.

The £172 million park will add to the theme park giant’s portfolio of six Legoland parks in five countries and is expected to open in 2017.

Merlin will invest about £57 million, with the remainder, mainly park infrastructure, to be funded by a property company owned by a consortium of local public and private investors.

Legoland Korea will be situated on the island of Jung-do in Chuncheon, located about one hour from Seoul and within two hours’ drive time for some 23.7 million residents.

Chief executive Nick Varney said: “South Korea offers both a developed theme park market and strong Lego brand recognition. In addition, the city of Chuncheon provides the ideal location, with great transport links and a picturesque island setting.

“The project is being supported at both the national and local levels, with significant contributions from both Gangwon Province and the city of Chuncheon, as well as a group of Korean investors.

“We continue to be excited by the potential opportunity of Legoland parks globally and reiterate our target of opening, on average, a new park every two to three years.”