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Seoul city to begin renovation project on Gwanghwamun Square next month

The Seoul city government said Sunday it will redesign Gwanghwamun Square and the road around it in an effort to transform the square into a city-center park with more trees and flowers.

The sweeping plan calls for removing the western side of the 10-lane Sejongro boulevard to expand the Gwanghwamun Square currently located in the middle of the road, while expanding the eastern-side boulevard to accommodate traffic on both sides.

Finalization of the plan has been delayed as activists and other critics expressed concern about traffic congestion worsening as the currently 10-lane boulevard will be reduced to a seven-lane road running past the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.

The city government plans to take various steps to keep the average traffic speed at the current level.

Construction will begin in late October to expand the eastern side of the boulevard, officials said.

The city government plans to plant more trees and flowers at the pedestrian plaza to transform it into a park for citizens. It also dropped an earlier plan to relocate the statues of the Joseon dynasty figures King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-sin.

The city stressed the plan was finalized after discussing the matter with the central government, the national heritage agency and residents. (Yonhap)