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Old April 10th, 2018, 09:27 AM   #1
kimahrikku1
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SEOUL | Gwanghwamun Square Extension | Pro

The final plans for the extended Gwanghwamun Square have been released. (see previous: https://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...postcount=1590)


There had been no major announcement over the last year or so, but it was expected that the project would be revised, with at least one road lane kept open.


And this is the option that was chosen in the end. It might come to a disappointment as the new project is asymmetrical and keeps some cars at ground level, but is probably much more feasible.

First of all, digging tunnels in this environment would have been extremely complicated. And the initial plans were not for one unique tunnel, but for some sort of a network of tunnels to allow cars to go in multiple directions. It would have been either prohibitively expensive, or some tunnels would have had to be eliminated, creating further complications for drivers. Also, such tunnels would have been short, and short tunnels kind of defeat their own purposes, because you lose a ton of place for the tunnels' entrance/exits. Of course I'm no expert, and I don't know the cost forecast or the actual architecture/engineering of the tunnels, but it would have been a very complex project.

Here are the new renders:






http://news.mt.co.kr/mtview.php?no=2018041013401185332








http://www.newsis.com/view/?id=NISX2...0801&pID=10800


There's even an article from the Herald:


Quote:
The Seoul city government and the national heritage agency announced a joint initiative Tuesday to redesign the pedestrian plaza at the heart of the capital as part of urban planning aimed at bolstering public convenience and restoring history.

Gwanghwamun Square, located in the middle of the 10-lane Sejongro main street in central Seoul, will be turned into a new space that nearly quadruples the current area, according to the plan unveiled by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Cultural Heritage Administration.

Under the envisioned plan for a 2021 completion, the new square will be expanded into the space where there is currently a road running by the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.

It means the current 10-lane street will be reconstructed into a six-lane road that runs past the US Embassy and KT headquarters. To get from one side of the square to the other, passers-by will only need to cross over one road.

A new square will also be built on part of Sajikro street that intersects with Sejongro street in front of the Gwanghwamun gate, the main entry to the ancient royal Gyeongbok Palace.

"The point of this project is to transform the area into a pedestrian-oriented space by integrating the place that had remained cut off in the middle like 'one giant median strip' and by restoring history as one of the ancient fortresses," a Seoul city official said.

The new Gwanghwamun Square will cover some 69,000 square meters, or 3.7 times more than the current area, the Seoul city said.

The Seoul city and the heritage body plan to hold public hearings to gather citizens' opinions on the project and also put the design up for an open competition in August.
http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20180410000658


So, here are a couple of my notes:
- I don't think it's too expensive and the construction won't last too long (expect nonetheless for construction to start later than January 2020 and for some budget overruns).
- The fact that it's not asymmetrical might be an issue for many people. I'm kind of okay with it on paper, as there were few good alternatives.
- Yulgukro will be bent drastically, curving behind the Seoul Government Complex and South of Uijeongbu, and be reduced from 10 to 6 lanes. This will allow for quite a few things which are significant historically. Right in front of the Gwanghwamun gate there will be a "History Plaza", which will be built by the Cultural Heritage Administration. It will feature the "Woldae", some kind of stone base / bridge right in front of the main gate, along with the relocated Haetae status. Royal processions could then be held outside of the palace grounds on this new plaza. My understanding is that the Gyeongbokgung East Gake (Dongsipjagak) would also be reintegrated with the rest of the palace's walls, while it is currently separated by a right-turn lane of the Samcheong-street. Finally, the Uijeongbu (office of the Prime Minister of the Joseon dynasty), currently being excavated then restored, would be part of this plaza. All in all, the plaza would be 44,700 sqm. Even the central section in front of the gate would be quite spacious (significantly more so than City Hall Plaza), which could become a city landmark.
- On Sejong Avenue, the West side would be closed down and transformed into a park, linking Sejong Cultural Center with the Gwanghwamun Plaza. The width of the plaza would be doubled, with traffic only on the East side, so it should be more pedestrian friendly.
- There would also probably be some work on the neighboring buildings, such as the Seoul Government Complex or the Sejong Cultural Center, with possible improvements to their gardens for example. This is more hypothetical though.


The plans should be finalized with an architectural contest which will be conducted this August.
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Old April 10th, 2018, 09:31 AM   #2
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Full announcement:

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Old April 12th, 2018, 04:02 PM   #3
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You beat me to the posting of this announcement .

I think it's wonderful. As you mentioned, totally removing roads from Gwanghwamun would've been far too complicated. There are subway lines bookending the square, and considering how incredibly busy Gwanghwamun already is, it would've been an absolute nightmare to bury all the roads. And, courtesy of Braess' paradox--aptly demonstrated by Cheonggyecheon--we know that traffic ought to decrease simply by reducing the number of lanes, anyway, so avoiding a massive cost with a minor benefit is sensible.

I only hope that there is some kind of greenery included in whichever design is selected. A big, open space like a Gwanghwamun without any kind of trees or anything would be quite sterile, and given Korea's climate, not very hospitable, either.

Seeing so much attention spent on Old Seoul is very refreshing, but I do hope that some of the design sense being shown here pops up in the rest of the city, and in other cities throughout the country.

Edit: The only downside (mentioned in the Hankyoreh article about the project) is the necessity of Saemunan-ro 5-gil to the rerouting of Yulgok-ro and Sajik-ro. The street currently covers the Samcheong-dong stream, which is one of the headwaters of Cheonggyecheon. I'd love to see some real ecological restoration in the area, but it is admittedly quite difficult to do that in such an urbanized area. Compromises, I guess.

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Old April 16th, 2018, 04:32 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquaticko View Post
You beat me to the posting of this announcement .

I think it's wonderful. As you mentioned, totally removing roads from Gwanghwamun would've been far too complicated. There are subway lines bookending the square, and considering how incredibly busy Gwanghwamun already is, it would've been an absolute nightmare to bury all the roads. And, courtesy of Braess' paradox--aptly demonstrated by Cheonggyecheon--we know that traffic ought to decrease simply by reducing the number of lanes, anyway, so avoiding a massive cost with a minor benefit is sensible.

I only hope that there is some kind of greenery included in whichever design is selected. A big, open space like a Gwanghwamun without any kind of trees or anything would be quite sterile, and given Korea's climate, not very hospitable, either.

Seeing so much attention spent on Old Seoul is very refreshing, but I do hope that some of the design sense being shown here pops up in the rest of the city, and in other cities throughout the country.

Edit: The only downside (mentioned in the Hankyoreh article about the project) is the necessity of Saemunan-ro 5-gil to the rerouting of Yulgok-ro and Sajik-ro. The street currently covers the Samcheong-dong stream, which is one of the headwaters of Cheonggyecheon. I'd love to see some real ecological restoration in the area, but it is admittedly quite difficult to do that in such an urbanized area. Compromises, I guess.


Yes, regarding the tunnel, in the press conference, they mentioned that the costs for such a project would have been multiplied by around 5, and the construction time extended from 1.5 years to 6 years or so. Maybe they're highballing the figures a bit, but that's still a huge difference. As you mentioned, there are subway stations on both ends of the plaza, and any digging could also lead to finding historical/cultural relics from the Joseon dynasty, which would delay the project almost indefinitely. And then there's the whole issue of whether a tunnel system would actually be efficient enough to improve traffic.


As for the waterways, I think they mentioned it in the conference as well. Tbh, I don't really know that much about such waterways, and I don't think it's the bigger issue for the time being.


As far as vegetation, there will be very little on the History Plaza, which makes sense as it is a historical site with no vegetation to begin with, and the view of the Gwanghwamun palace needs to remain unobstructed.


For the Citizen Square, it would also probably be quite barren. That's a bit of concern for me as well. I know tha't they're doing it on purpose because they want that plaza to host cultural events, or civic movements, which is understandable.


I hope that they'll pay close attention to the flooring so that it's not just some greyísh concrete, but something that looks good and makes people want to actually to use and walk on.


Also, for the existing buildings remaining (KT, Kyobo, US Embassy, other buildings on the left side, they do plan to better integrate the large buildings with the street (vegetation, café...), but this will probably be a secondary project and will need some collaboration with the building owners.
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Old April 20th, 2018, 04:51 PM   #5
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Another perspective on the remodel, echoing the concerns about the effects on traffic, and my concerns about it turning a bit barren and wind-blown, as well as elaborating on the politics around the project.

Gwanghwamun Square Enters Third Dimension
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Old April 23rd, 2018, 04:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquaticko View Post
Another perspective on the remodel, echoing the concerns about the effects on traffic, and my concerns about it turning a bit barren and wind-blown, as well as elaborating on the politics around the project.

Gwanghwamun Square Enters Third Dimension


Interesting perspective indeed, especially regarding the political background. That being said, it was written by a fellow Frenchman, and we're very good about bitching about everything and anything.


This project may have shortcomings, but I think any other proposal (tunnel, no change to Yulgok-ro, doing nothing, other projects) would have had their fair shares of issues as well, so I'm curious as to what solution this author advocates.
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Old April 25th, 2018, 04:48 PM   #7
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Please for Christ's sake. Can you tell these Korean Developer/Planners to PLEASE plant some trees around plazas and their parks?????? I swear the definition of a "Park" in Korea is a man-made concrete open space with one or two trees within a mile or so and never a tree over a bench neither. The bench that nobody uses cuz most Koreans avoid sunlight like it's cancer
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Old April 26th, 2018, 05:10 AM   #8
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In their defense, Gwanghwamun didn't have trees in it in its original form, either, nor is the use of this space for massive gatherings ideal for trees. I do second your motion, though.

As for the proposed alternatives by that article's writer, your guess is as good as mine. I'm sure we'd all like the ideal scenario wherein money is no object, all the cars are buried, there are trees, etc., but we call them ideals because they aren't real.
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Old October 19th, 2018, 08:31 AM   #9
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Seoul Metropolitan Government has launched the Architectural Bidding project to select the winning project.

From October 12th until November 23rd, participants are invited to submit their project proposals to the city, and an announcement on the winning project will be made on January 21st 2019.

http://news.mt.co.kr/mtview.php?no=2018101109345096022
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Old January 21st, 2019, 10:03 AM   #10
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Announcement of Winning Project: "Deep Surface"

As I reported back in October, the winning project was announced this morning by Seoul Mayor Park Won-sun.

Overall, I'd say the proposal keeps it fairly close to the vest, but that was to be expected. The city doesn't want to overspend on the project and limit the construction time. At the same time, there are constraints regarding how the space can be used, and a plaza is by definition a fairly empty space.

There is however one very important change, which is that the statues of Admiral Yi Sun-Sin and King Sejong will be relocated.

There are a couple of reasons for that, such as the creation of light display on the floor of the plaza, being able to use the space as a plaza, the fact that neither statues are currently in direct alignment of the palace, that the statues reduce the visibility of the mountain... They all make sense I guess, but I'm not entirely convinced.

I think that it does make more sense for the King Sejong statue to move: it's more recent and less historical that the Sejong Statue, it's in the middle of the avenue and is therefore right in the way for civic events, and it can be relocated right in front of the Sejong Cultural Center, so it does make some sense. However, if they could find a way to keep the Yi Sun-sin statue, that'd be nice.

There are however quite a lot of interesting things in this project, which would each warrant greater attention: restoration of the Uijeongbu Site (office of "Prime Minister" of Joseon dynasty), linking of towers the palace with the walls, opening more the government building to the public, restoration of Woldae and Haetae, better traffic for bus / bikes, creation of commercial spaces in 1st floors of nearby buildings, light floor which would display content on the plaza, addition of more green space, linking of underground space (library, coffee, with the subway undergrounds, potential addition of a GTX station, and linking of Gwanghwamun and Gyeongbokgung Station.

As for the GTX, it's not decided if the station is going to get built yet. There is also some plans for a station in City Hall instead. Or none. Maybe it's going to be none, but if one has to be built, it makes much more sense to have it in Gwanghwamun. City Hall is only 1km away from Seoul Station, so it doesn't warrant a station at all, while Gwanghwamun is at a more reasonable 2km. In addition, City Hall is located on Line 1 and Line 2. While it is tempting to bring service to line 2, it doesn't really make sense for Line 1, as Seoul Station is already on Line 1. As for Gwanghamun Station, it would bring service to stations which are "far" from Seoul Station, on lines which aren't connected to Seoul Station: Gyeongbokgung (Line 3, 5 stations from Seoul Station with a transfer), Gwanghwamun (Line 5, 4 stations from Seoul Station with a transfer)

Here are the final renders, for you to make your own opinion.

I recommend you watch the announcement videos (at least the first few minutes as it shows the project in detail with some English subtitles)













http://news.kmib.co.kr/article/view....61122011&cp=nv



https://www.yna.co.kr/view/AKR201901...04?input=1195m
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Old January 21st, 2019, 10:12 AM   #11
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Article in English about the announcement:

Quote:
Seoul to expand Gwanghwamun Square, create underground path by 2021

Seoul Metropolitan Government on Monday unveiled a construction plan for Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul, which includes a plan to expand the square 3.7-fold, create an underground passage connecting major spots in central Seoul and make it a public transport hub.

Iconic statues of King Sejong the Great and Admiral Yi Sun-sin at Gwanghwamun Square will be relocated in order to secure an expansive view of Bugaksan and Gyeongbokgung, the palace connecting to the square, according to the restructuring plan titled “Deep Surface.”

The blueprint focuses on restoring historic meaning to the area by re-creating Yukjo street, the main street of old Seoul, and reducing the lanes of traffic running through from the current 10 to make it more pedestrian-friendly, according to the municipality.

The blueprint by a team of South Korean construction design firms was chosen by seven judges, comprising of five South Korean experts and two foreign architects. A total of 70 teams from 17 countries entered the competition since the municipality laid out a plan to restructure the square in April.

According to the blueprint, the statues, which slightly limit the view of Gyeongbokgung and its mountain backdrop, will be moved in order to make more room for large-scale events.

The plan, however, is expected to face some opposition due to the historic significance of the statues. The statue of Admiral Yi Sun-sin, one of the most respected figures from the Joseon era, was built in 1968 and has become an icon of the square.

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon assured that that the city government will collect opinions from citizens to reflect them in the final blueprint to be confirmed at the end of this year.

“We will make a final decision on the situation and sufficiently respect the opinions of citizens through a public discussion that will last until the end of this year,” Park told reporters at a news briefing.

Other plans to transform central Seoul include the creation of 4-kilometer underground walking path that would encompass the main areas of central Seoul -- Gwanghwamun, City Hall, Euljiro and Dongdaemun.

As part of efforts to make Gwanghwamun area a public transport hub, the city government is also in consultation with the central government to push to host a high-speed rail line at Gwanghwamun Station, it said.

GTX-A, the first to start construction among three railways serving the greater Seoul area, is an 83.1-km section connecting areas from Unjeong of Paju in northwest Gyeonggi Province across Seoul to Dongtan in the southeast of Gyeonggi Province. The line will run at a maximum speed of 180 kilometers per hour.

The city government plans to begin construction work to transform the square and build the underground pedestrian pass early next year, with an aim to complete it by 2021.

During the two-year construction, Seoul Metropolitan Government said it would take measures to minimize traffic disturbance and inconvenience to people living and working in central Seoul.

The restructuring project will cost about 104 billion won, with 66.9 billion won to be funded by Seoul Metropolitan Government and 37.1 billion won by Cultural Heritage Administration.

Stretching from the gate of Gyeongbok Palace, the 557-meter-long Gwanghwamun Square in the middle of the 10-lane thoroughfare opened to the public in 2009. Critics, however, complain about the five lanes of traffic that run either side, comparing it to a gigantic traffic island in the middle of Seoul.

http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20190121000676
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Old June 27th, 2019, 08:28 AM   #12
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Agreement between Seoul and Central Government regarding replacement road for Sajik-ro

Seoul City has announced that an agreement has been reached with the central government regarding Sajik-ro, which right now goes right by the palace. In accordance with the initial plan, it will be rerouted South, and the Seoul Government Building and Uijeongbu will be located just North of the rerouted Sajik-ro. Small changes have apparently been made, with new space granted for government use to replace part of the space of the government building lot which will be used for the replacement road, but it remains overall aligned with the initial project.



https://news.joins.com/article/23508617
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Old June 27th, 2019, 05:11 PM   #13
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Enjoyed reading the article above, really explains everything in detail, the article is very interesting and effective. Thank you and good luck for the upcoming articles.
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Old July 4th, 2019, 05:51 AM   #14
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Based on what's been stated by kimahrikku1 and aquaticko, a car-free Gwanghwamun Square would have been great, but I guess there was no way to get around it, since digging any road tunnels on the square can result in bursting through subway lines 3 and 5. And the construction of any potential GTX station for Gwanghwamun would probably have clashed with those (very shallow) road tunnels at the square, anyway. Plus, does the reduction of Yulgukro to six lanes ave the potential for traffic congestion?
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Old July 5th, 2019, 02:57 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim856796 View Post
Based on what's been stated by kimahrikku1 and aquaticko, a car-free Gwanghwamun Square would have been great, but I guess there was no way to get around it, since digging any road tunnels on the square can result in bursting through subway lines 3 and 5. And the construction of any potential GTX station for Gwanghwamun would probably have clashed with those (very shallow) road tunnels at the square, anyway. Plus, does the reduction of Yulgukro to six lanes ave the potential for traffic congestion?

Yep, overall this is my impression from reading articles and thinking about it myself.

You already have 2 subway stations at the square (even 3 if you include Line 1 at the southern end of the square), plus GTX A and Shinbundang. Digging a tunnel would have been very expensive and time consuming, with limited benefits.


Overall, of course reducing the total number of lanes is unlikely to improve traffic per se, but I don't think that the traffic conditions will be so bad either. Gwanghwamun is already closed to traffic frequently for events, and the downtown traffic is still ok. It's important to remember that there is fairly little traffic north of Jongro street overall. Except for people going to Buam-dong, Seochon or Bukchon, there are actually fairly few people who go there. It is of course a very touristic and historical area, but they are not so many commuters. So all in all, I think that it would be manageable.
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Old July 22nd, 2019, 03:06 AM   #16
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Just a quick update to show you these pictures of the Uijeongbu (equivalent to the Prime Minister's office in the Joseon dynasty), just in front of the palace.

The excavation of the site is moving forward quite quickly, and this seems like a massive lot where the existing structure is still quite visible.

I hope that this will get rebuilt quickly, following the construction of the new Gwanghwamun Square, though my understanding is that there is still quite a lot of excavating, analyzing, and preparation work to be done before such a structure can be rebuilt, so the timeline is uncertain.

But nonetheless, only a couple of years ago, this place was just a regular plaza, and beneath it is a site of great historical and architectural importance. Great to see it be reborn again.





http://cafe.daum.net/skyscrapers/9o2Z/14004
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Old July 27th, 2019, 10:26 PM   #17
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Here's a rendering of the restored Uijeongbu buildings:



Historical photo of Uijeonbu:

(On the right)


The red circle:



Full restoration of the square (Uijeongbu buildings on the left)


http://www.dapsa.kr/blog/?p=6258
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Old July 28th, 2019, 12:41 AM   #18
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Seems like a great project. But I really hope they don't move the Yi Sunshin statue. It's such a symbolic icon that's represented the Gwanghwamun Plaza for decades. Not as concerned about the Sejong statue though - it is already awkward that it's placed behind the Yi Sunshin statue and you can't establish a line of sight. Relocation to the Sejong Culture Center seems like a good idea. And ideally, they should just go all the way and turn the entire area into a plaza, getting rid of the traffic. Traffic can be diverted elsewhere, with improvements. Seeing as how things are going, they will eventually remove the traffic anyway in the future to further enlarge the plaza.

I'm ambiguous about the restoration of Uijeongbu though. The traditional structure doesn't seem that impressive or unique, and it somewhat makes the plaza a bit asymmetrical with mid-rise buildings all along both sides of the plaza. I think it would be better to restore the traditional structure up to the main hall, and build a modern mid-rise building with a similar political/administrative function right behind it, honoring Uijeongbu's historical significance. I think that would form a good symmetry with the Central Government Complex on the opposite side.
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Old July 28th, 2019, 01:50 AM   #19
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Well said. The truth is that outside of the five palaces and a couple of other royal structures, old Seoul was pretty architecturally unremarkable; those beloved hanok which inhabit mere fractions of districts now seem to have constituted the vast majority of all built structures, sprawling fairly anonymously in every direction, before the Japanese started bulldozing everything. Doing something like building a cohesive tower in addition to the restored Uijeongbu would also, I think, better set a precedent for integrating the details of the old with the scale of the new.
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Old August 9th, 2019, 07:29 AM   #20
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News about conflict between City Hall and the Interior Ministry regarding this project from the Korea Herald

Quote:
Interior Ministry puts brakes on Seoul City plans for Gwanghwamun makeover

The Ministry of Interior and Safety has asked the Seoul Metropolitan Government to put the city’s plans to revamp Gwanghwamun Square on hold.

According to the Interior Ministry on Thursday, the ministry told the city government July 30 that a public consensus should precede the plan’s execution. The ministry asked that civic groups be involved in the discussion, citing negative public sentiment over the Seoul city project.

The square renewal proposal submitted by Seoul encroaches on the Central Government Complex, located about 400 meters from the square. The ministry, which manages government buildings, has opposed the idea since day one.

In January, when Seoul first announced the project, then-Interior Minister Kim Bu-gyeom voiced strong opposition, saying, “Seoul city’s blueprint (for the square) is completely unacceptable.”

The current Interior Minister Chin Young again expressed disapproval of the Gwanghwamun project July 26 during a press conference, and said no progress had been made since its announcement.

The ministry and the city government have held working-level talks over the past few months, but they have reached no agreement to date.

The latest move by the ministry will likely prevent Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon from going ahead with his plan to have the square renewed by May 2021, before the end of his third term.

In a press briefing Thursday morning, Seoul called the ministry’s objections “hard to understand,” saying the city had done its best “to accommodate (the Interior Ministry’s) requests as much as possible.”
http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20190808000574
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