The Seoul metropolitan city government said Thursday it will welcome the new year with a traditional bell-ringing ceremony.
The bell will be rung 33 times at Boshingak Pavillion in downtown Seoul at midnight on New Year's Eve by Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and 11 civic representatives, according to the city.
The bell-ringing ceremony, broadcast live across the country, has been held every year since 1953. The ringing of the bell bids farewell to the old year and is an expression of hope, happiness and expectations for the new year.
The event has its roots in the practice of the Boshingak bell being rung 33 times at 4 a.m. to signal the end of the night curfew and start of the new day during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The bell sounded the opening of the Seoul's four main and four small gates to traffic after they were closed for the night. The ritual is called "paru" in Korean.
The 11 civic bell ringers, who have been selected as the People of the Year, include Korean YouTube star penguin character Pengsoo; Michael Reiterer, ambassador of the European Union to South Korea; Lee Ha-eun, who represents multicultural families; and Lee Seo-yoon, who served as an interpreter for dignitaries during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
The operation of public transportation, including subways, in the city will be extended by one hour till 2 a.m. to help people get home after taking part in the event, the city said.
Traffic will be controlled on roads around Boshingak from 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., with all buses passing through the area required to make detours during that time, it said.
More than 80,000 people are expected to see the ceremony at the scene, it added. (Yonhap)