An old resting area (left) is juxtaposed next to a rendering for the new one, which is expected to open in October. (Courtesy of Jung-gu Office)
A dedicated resting area for essential public workers is to be newly built in central Seoul’s Euljiro 5-ga.
Jung-gu Office announced Wednesday that it plans to build a seven-floor resting area building with a floor space of 200 square meters by October, with construction to begin early this month.
The existing rest areas in Jung-gu for on-site essential public workers were installed on a small scale and mostly located underground. They have been vulnerable to ventilation problems, and some burned down three years ago and were replaced for temporary housing in empty spaces nearby senior citizen centers.
The new building is expected to function as both a resting and office space for some 120 field workers in Jung-gu, including street cleaners and public trees and parks managers, who oversee 11 districts, from the Cheonggyecheon to Jangchungdanro.
The construction will allow on-site workers to easily change clothing, rest and have meals in a more pleasant environment, as well as avoiding severe cold and heat waves during harsh weather seasons.
A gongmugwan sweeps the snowy streets of Euljiro, central Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
“Gongmugwan” is the official name given for street cleaners today who play a direct and major role in managing the public environment, picking up garbage and sweeping streets every morning, supporting the daily lives of residents.
Recently, the government identified gongmugwan as essential workers in Korean society, as they have helped maintain basic social functions throughout the COVID-19 crisis, carrying out the duty even in invisible places.
“Securing a proper resting area for gongmugwan was one of the main problems we found that needed improvement while walking around the Jung-gu area,” Seo Yang-ho, head of the Jung-gu Office, said in a press release.
“In particular, the central area such as Euljiro and Chungmuro was crowded with a floating population.” Seo expressed that throughout the construction period, he will keep an eye on the needs of on-site workers to improve their working conditions.
Meanwhile, reevaluations for some underdeveloped resting facilities are crucial at this point, but the indifference of public officials related to the environment and welfare sectors keeps the problem at a standstill.
According to data submitted by Oh Hyun-jung, a member of the Seoul Metropolitan Council’s Environment and Water Resources Committee, in November, more than 20 of some 500 rest areas for gongmugwan in downtown Seoul had no restrooms, and 130 had no heaters. Fifteen had no ventilation system at all.
By Kim Hae-yeon (firstname.lastname@example.org