Seoul seeks to add Yongsan park to UNESCO list

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Mar 6, 2014 - 21:02
  • Updated : Mar 6, 2014 - 21:02
The Seoul municipal government plans to push for adding an envisioned park to be created in a U.S. military base in central Seoul to UNESCO’s world heritage list, officials said Thursday.

In accordance with the plan to promote historical features of the city, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has been working to register the park to be built in the Yongsan District as a UNESCO World Heritage Site after the U.S. military camp there is relocated in 2016.

“Once the troops relocation plan is completed, we plan to transform the place into the city’s major green place while preserving historical monuments,” a city official said.

The United States Forces Korea plans to relocate the Yongsan Garrison, the sprawling U.S. military headquarters in central Seoul, to Pyeongtaek, some 70 kilometers south of Seoul, by 2016.

“After all, there are diverse military facilities used by the U.S., the U.N. and Japan throughout the checkered modern history of the Korean Peninsula. The 3.9-square-kilometer area has unique value in historic, cultural and environmental terms, which would be enough for a UNESCO heritage (listing),” he added.

In January, the city decided to push for the project after consultations with experts and is scheduled to hold a public meeting to gather opinions. It is also set to make a field trip to the military camp with experts later this month, according to city officials.

After completing the detailed plan around June, the city will file an appeal with the country’s Cultural Heritage Administration to put it on the list of candidates to be a World Heritage Site. The government chooses one of the candidates each year to apply for UNESCO registration.

“If everything goes as planned, we would learn the result of its registration around 2016,” another city official said.

“The Yongsan park will be a ‘green’ place that both memorializes painful history and heals the wounds.”

World Heritage Sites in South Korea include Korean royal tombs, the Jongmyo royal ancestral shrine, Changdeok Palace, Gyeongju Historic Area and the Tripitaka Koreana at Haeinsa Temple. (Yonhap)