The Seoul city government will remove memorial tents set up for the 2014 Sewol ferry tragedy at Gwanghwamun Square and build a commemorative space at the site, Mayor Park Won-soon said Tuesday.
Park announced the plan during a visit to the tents Tuesday to participate in a Lunar New Year memorial service.
“Seoul city has been discussing with the victims’ families about renovating the place and finishing the construction before April,” the mayor said.
Memorial tents set up for the 2014 Sewol ferry tragedy at Gwanghwamun Sqaure, Seoul. (Yonhap)
The 4.16 Network, which organized the Lunar New Year commemorative event, said the families will conduct a ceremony and move the portraits of 304 victims elsewhere in March.
The tents were set up at Gwanghwamun Square in July 2014, where the bereaved families staged a hunger strike calling for a thorough probe into the maritime disaster. A year later, the protest area was turned into a commemorative one.
Of the 14 tents at Gwanghwamun Square, 11 are operated by the Seoul city government while three are unauthorized installations. They have been at the center of controversy, with some conservative groups claiming the tents prevent others from using the square.
On March 1, 2018, members of conservative groups tore down an 8.5-meter candlelight-shaped monument that was erected near the tents, and set fire to it.
Meanwhile, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has unveiled the blueprint for its project to transform Gwanghwamun Square into a pedestrian-friendly space, including incorporating several vehicle lanes into the square. The construction is likely to begin early next year, with completion slated for 2021.
By Park Ju-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)