The government has decided to designate Aug. 14 an extra public holiday and offer free access to state-run museums and palaces on the weekend when South Korea celebrates’ the 70th anniversary of the nation’s liberation from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule.
President Park Geun-hye speaks at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
The decision was made during a Cabinet meeting presided over by President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday, as part of efforts to boost the public’s sense of national pride and also to stimulate domestic consumption hurt by the outbreak of the Middle East respiratory syndrome and other negative external economic factors.
“We should make the 70th Liberation Day a turning point to boost the public sense of pride, revive the depressed atmosphere and boost consumers’ sentiments,” said Park during the meeting held at Cheong Wa Dae.
Children hoist national flag on to a tree to mark the approaching Liberation Day. (Yonhap)
Under the plan, the government will also exempt travelers from paying motorway tolls across the country and offer discounted tickets for railway travelers.
For foreign travelers, Seoul will hold a series of promotional events, such as the Korea Grand Sale, starting Aug. 14, some months earlier than previously scheduled.
A total of 15 historic sites, including Gyeongbokgung Palace and Deoksugung Palace in Seoul, as well as 41 recreational forests run by the government will be open for free from Aug. 14 for three days.
The plan to issue an order to close all public offices and agencies on Aug. 14, a day before the Liberation Day holiday, will be finalized at the Cabinet meeting next week. Private companies will be given the choice to follow suit.
The president also asked officials to inject 11.6 trillion won ($9.95 billion) of the extra budget to revitalize domestic consumption hit hard by the MERS outbreak.
The number of foreign tourists has dropped and Koreans reduced their domestic spending since the first case of MERS was confirmed on May 20. Seoul declared a de facto end to the outbreak last week. The country has reported no additional MERS cases for the 30th consecutive day.
The temporary holiday on Aug. 14 would induce about 1.3 trillion won worth of domestic consumption and create 46,000 new jobs, said Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan.
He noted that it will create a “halo effect” due to the additional spending by public which will increase companies’ profits, enabling them to increase hiring.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org