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Seoul City to tear down colonial building

Seoul City will tear down a building built during Japan’s colonial period as part of its project to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation in August, officials said Wednesday.

Seoul Metropolitan Government said it would demolish the annex of the former National Tax Service building near Deoksugung Palace in central Seoul. The annex, situated between the palace and the Seoul Metropolitan Council building, was built by Japan in 1937 in an alleged attempt to conceal the palace, experts said.

The annex has been vacant since the tax agency relocated to the administrative city of Sejong late last year. A temporary plaza will be built on the site, where a symbolic sculpture will be erected, the city said.

In addition to removing the building, Seoul City will hold dozens of various events under the theme of “My Independence” to raise public awareness of the historical day.

Only 8.7 percent of the current Korean population witnessed the independence day of Aug. 15 in 1945.

The city will launch a public fundraiser to build a sculpture for the anniversary of Aug. 15, which will be installed at Yongsan Family Park in March 2019 to mark the centenary of Independence Movement Day ― March 1, authorities said.

It will also establish a sculpture that symbolizes peace in a bid to remember the Korean victims of sexual enslavement during the colonial period. The sculpture will be installed by the end of this year at either Gwanghwamun Square or Seoul Plaza, officials said.

Seoul City will offer a tourist route which mainly focuses on the human rights issue by linking several historical sites, from Seodaemun Prison History Hall to Namsan, where the history of Japan’s colonialism still remains. The course will be available from December.

Other civic events such as exhibitions, performances and forums will also feature the city’s project, they added.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (