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Cultural institutes shut down again as COVID-19 resurgence seen in Seoul metropolitan area


The three venues of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) in Seoul, Gwacheon and Deoksugung will temporarily close for next two weeks starting Saturday, reflecting the government’s strict social distancing measures in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province, MMCA announced on Thursday.

MMCA Cheongju in North Chungcheong Province, however, will remain open for now.

The announcement came after the government brought back stricter social distancing norms Thursday afternoon for the Seoul metropolitan until June 14 as the highest number of new coronavirus cases was reported in nearly two months in the country. The latest infection cluster stemmed from Coupang’s logistics center located in a city west of Seoul.

All communal facilities including nightlife businesses, religious establishments, museums, theaters and parks will remain closed for two weeks per government order.

Included in the shutdowns are the National Museum of Korea, National Folk Museum of Korea, National Museum of Korean Contemporary History and National Hangeul Museum -- all located in Seoul -- which will remain open until 6 p.m. on Friday.

“Since the decision was made yesterday afternoon, visitors are coming into our facilities (today). So they will operate until 6 p.m. today,” a Culture Ministry official Choi Jin told The Korea Herald.

The National Library of Korea in Seoul and the National Library for Children and Young Adults will also close down starting at 6 p.m. on Friday.

In addition, four performing arts centers -- National Gugak Center, National Theater of Korea, Jeongdong Theater and Myeongdong Theater as well as seven state art companies, including the Korean National Ballet and the Korea National Opera, will be closed.

These facilities will remain closed until June 14. The government said it will monitor the new coronavirus spread to confirm the reopening date after two weeks.

All the indoor and outdoor facilities of the Cultural Heritage Administration, including the National Palace Museum of Korea, royal palaces and tombs, will be closed from 6 p.m. on Friday to June 14 as well.

By Park Yuna (