This image, provided by the Seoul metropolitan government, illustrates Gwanghwamun Square after it is redesigned. (Seoul metropolitan government)
Gwanghwamun Square, a landmark of Seoul, will get new historical and cultural attractions by next April, the Seoul metropolitan government said Wednesday.
Construction has been under way to expand the square and turn part of it into a park as part of a controversial project launched by the administration of former Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon.
The announcement of the new attractions comes two months after new Mayor Oh Se-hoon said he would keep the project despite opposition from some citizens due to the cost it has already incurred and seek to make improvements to the square.
The plan includes displays of artifacts from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) era, and the construction of a waterway resembling the drainage system of the time.
The underground exhibition halls dedicated to King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-sin will be renovated in a bid to attract more visitors, while designs of the Korean alphabet, Hangeul, will be embedded in benches and other installations across the square.
Other works are expected to take longer.
The restoration of a Joseon-era platform that used to stand in front of Gyeongbok Palace, north of the square, will be completed in 2023. The platform, which was used by kings to communicate with the people, was destroyed during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea.
Two statues of Haechi, a mythical four-legged creature, will also be restored to their original sites by 2023, the metropolitan government said.
To improve interconnectivity between the plaza and its surrounding facilities, the adjacent KT Corp. building will have an underground path to the Sejong exhibition and open a restaurant, coffee shop and other amenities in its basement by 2023.
The metropolitan government said it will also craft a plan by next June to create a 7-kilometer path from Gwanghwamun Square to the Han River.
"Gwanghwamun Square will be reborn into a space that gives rest and vitality to citizens," Vice Seoul Mayor Ryu Hoon said. (Yonhap)