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New Year’s bell-ringing ceremony returns in 3 years

The bell-ringing ceremony held in 2019 at Bosingak in Jongno, central Seoul (Yonhap)
The bell-ringing ceremony held in 2019 at Bosingak in Jongno, central Seoul (Yonhap)

After three years of pandemic-related setbacks, the traditional bell-ringing ceremony is returning as an offline event on Saturday night at Bosingak in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, to ring in the new year.

Amid growing anxiety over public safety at high-density events following the Itaewon crowd crush, the city said it would deploy 1,000 safety personnel. The roads in the Bosingak area will be fully controlled from Saturday, 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. the next day.

More than 100,000 people are expected to see the ceremony at the scene, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

Subway Line No. 1 will skip Jonggak Station, where the Bosingak bell is located, for two hours from 11 p.m. The city said it made the decision to avoid too overcrowding

Public transportation services will also extend their operations until 2 a.m. to reduce inconvenience for those returning home after the event.

“I hope that the New Year bell-ringing event held for the first time in three years will send away the eventful year and ring in a new beginning of hope,” said Joo Yong-tae, head of the culture division at the Seoul Metropolitan Government, via a press release.

Joo added that the city would do its best to manage safety problems so that visitors could safely enjoy the event and return home afterward.

The bell-ringing ceremony has been held annually since 1953. Under the tradition, the ringing of the bell bids farewell to the old year and expresses hope, happiness and expectations for the upcoming year.

The event follows the practices of the Bosingak bell during the Joseon era (1392-1910), where it rings 33 times at 4 a.m. to signal the end of the night curfew and the start of the new day.

By Park Jun-hee (