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Gwanghwamun plan may not go through

Interior Ministry says it wasn’t asked about plan for its buildings
Jan 25,2019
The Ministry of the Interior and Safety said the Seoul city government’s plan to redevelop Gwanghwamun Square in the city center may not be feasible.

“According to the blueprint proposed by the winning team, the parking lot in front of the government complex building is going to be turned into a park,” the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. “The ministry was not consulted about this.”

The Ministry of the Interior’s building is south of Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul and west of Gwanghwamun Square.

“The blueprint also suggests that a new road created behind the building will lead to the scrapping of some annex buildings in the area, like the security office, visitor center and a day care center,” it said. “After this, it will be hard to manage the government complex building as it is now.”

The ministry added that it “is willing to work with the city government on these details.”

Seoul Metropolitan Government admitted that it did not consult the ministry before announcing the blueprint on Monday at a press conference at City Hall.

“It’s true. We did make the announcement for the blueprint without consulting the ministry about it before,” said Kang Maeng-hoon, deputy mayor of urban regeneration at the city government. “We will reach an agreement with the ministry before the blueprint is finalized at the end of the year. But I think the fact that the ministry is moving its headquarters to Sejong will give us room to reach a compromise.”

The city government held a meeting with the ministry on Thursday.

“The Seoul city government and the Ministry of the Interior held a meeting on Thursday morning and agreed to work together for the successful renovation of the Gwanghwamun Square,” the city government said in a statement. “Regarding the central government complex buildings and premises, we will cooperate closely to reach an agreement. For this, the city government and the ministry decided to form an interagency team to coordinate details to the project.”

The city government emphasized that the blueprint has not yet been finalized.

“The blueprint contains proposals by the winning team,” it said. “We will finalize the details to the plan.”

The Seoul city government plans to remove structures at Gwanghwamun Square and build an underground plaza connecting at least five different subway and train lines by 2021.

The plan involves bringing back a Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) terrace that used to sit just outside Gyeongbok Palace and possibly moving the statues of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-sin out of the square. It includes expanding the square to include the lanes of traffic in front of the Sejong Center and building an underground plaza that will connect Gwanghwamun Station to City Hall Station and extend as far as Dongdaemun.

BY ESTHER CHUNG, LEE SANG-JAI [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]