[Newsmaker] Interior Ministry puts brakes on Seoul City plans for Gwanghwamun makeover

By Kim Arin
  • Published : Aug 8, 2019 - 14:01
  • Updated : Aug 8, 2019 - 18:15

The Ministry of Interior and Safety has asked the Seoul Metropolitan Government to put the city’s plans to revamp Gwanghwamun Square on hold.

According to the Interior Ministry on Thursday, the ministry told the city government July 30 that a public consensus should precede the plan’s execution. The ministry asked that civic groups be involved in the discussion, citing negative public sentiment over the Seoul city project.

The square renewal proposal submitted by Seoul encroaches on the Central Government Complex, located about 400 meters from the square. The ministry, which manages government buildings, has opposed the idea since day one.

In January, when Seoul first announced the project, then-Interior Minister Kim Bu-gyeom voiced strong opposition, saying, “Seoul city’s blueprint (for the square) is completely unacceptable.”

The current Interior Minister Chin Young again expressed disapproval of the Gwanghwamun project July 26 during a press conference, and said no progress had been made since its announcement.

The ministry and the city government have held working-level talks over the past few months, but they have reached no agreement to date.

The latest move by the ministry will likely prevent Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon from going ahead with his plan to have the square renewed by May 2021, before the end of his third term.

In a press briefing Thursday morning, Seoul called the ministry’s objections “hard to understand,” saying the city had done its best “to accommodate (the Interior Ministry’s) requests as much as possible.”

This digital creation shows the new Gwanghwamun Square envisioned by the Seoul Metropolitan Government under a proposal submitted in January. The new square would be 3.7 times larger, with more space both above and below ground. (Seoul Metropolitan Government)

By Kim Arin (