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Seoul mayor’s Gwanghwamun makeover plans unfeasible: minister

Interior and Safety Minister Chin Young said Thursday the ministry and the Seoul Metropolitan Government are far from reaching an agreement on the city’s plans to revamp Gwanghwamun Square.

The ministry and the city government have had “lengthy discussions that have reached no agreement to date,” Chin said of the square’s renewal during a press briefing.


Interior and Safety Minister Chin Young (Yonhap)
Interior and Safety Minister Chin Young (Yonhap)

In January, Seoul City announced a plan to transform the square by 2021.

The renewed square would be 3.7 times larger, with expanded space both above and underground. It would also be pedestrian friendly, more parklike and greener. In addition, the iconic statues of King Sejong and Adm. Yi Sun-sin would be relocated to allow a better view of Gyeongbokgung, a palace which sits north of the square.

The proposal was met by vehement opposition from then-Minister of the Interior and Safety Kim Bu-gyeom, who said the renovation scheme was “completely unacceptable,” as it would “trespass on state-owned land and property.”

However, the capital’s Mayor Park Won-soon -- a likely contender in the next presidential race -- is pushing the plan forward as one of the key projects during his third term in office.

Seoul City said negotiations with the ministry for the plan were in the final stage, refuting Chin’s remark that no agreement had been reached.

On the other hand, the Interior Ministry said that while there had been meetings, nothing has been officially confirmed, with no papers signed.

A Seoul City official said the city would work to accommodate the ministry’s requests as much as possible and have the plan executed without delay.

By Kim Arin (arin@heraldcorp.com)
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