New Gwanghwamun Square to reshape downtown Seoul

This illustration of the new Gwanghwamun Square shows the increased space for strolling and the addition of new fountains and trees. Courtesy of Seoul Metropolitan Government


Anticipation mounting ahead of Aug. 6 opening after 21-month-long renovation

By Ko Dong-hwan

Gwanghwamun Square, which will soon be reopened under the scorching summer heat that has been raging for weeks in Seoul and other countries, does more than just provide extra shade from the sun. After opening on August 6, it’s popular with kids looking for summer fun and not only the most important public space for decades but also kids who want to learn about the history of the big open space. It is expected to be a place for. It’s a city, but the whole country.

This illustration shows a bird’s-eye view of the renovated Gwanghwamun Square. / Courtesy of Seoul Metropolitan Government

After being closed for renovation in 2020, the space adjacent to Gwanghwamun Palace to the north, Seoul Government Building and Sejong Center to the West, and the US Embassy to the east will finally be reopened on August 6. The square will be covered to celebrate the reopening with a special outdoor ceremony featuring congratulatory speeches from senior officials such as Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon and orchestra performances.

The refurbished space is 40,300 square meters, more than double the 18,840 square meters of the previous space. The width of the long rectangular room has also been increased from 35 meters to 60 meters, making it more spacious for pedestrians. 5000 newly planted trees, including 300 tall trees, have increased the area of ​​Flora Plaza from 2,839 square meters to 9,367 square meters for enhanced protection from summer sunlight.

The expansion also means more space for demonstrations and protests. The city government has designated 5,275 square meters of lawn on the north side of the square and the square in front of the statue of King Sejong in the center of the square for public activities, 1.3 times the area previously designated. Open space for unplanned activities has more than doubled from 14,840 square meters to 35,025 square meters.

The Gwanghwamun Square Project Division, which is under the Balance Development Headquarters of the City Government, will accept requests to use the square for demonstrations and other public purposes from August 8 and will open it for use from August 22. Stated.
Another major change is that the streets that once surrounded the square merge to the east of the square. The entire square has moved west, approaching the entrance to the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, and the Government Building.

As of Monday, the refurbishment was 91% complete, with fountains, streams, and colorful media lights moving constantly, giving the square a sense of dynamism.


Statues of Yi Sun-shin and King Sejong (behind) will grab attention of passersby better at night with focused lights and water fountains. Courtesy of Seoul Metropolitan Government


Hundreds of fountains gather in front of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, spraying water in the form of a 40-meter-long tunnel, the Korean writing system created by King Sejong in the 14th century, Hangul. .. Behind the statue of King Sejong, there is a “media glass” that exhibits various media art such as the achievements of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-sin, taekwondo, and debut works.

A media wall will be set up at Exit 9 of Kowamon Station on Subway Seoul Line 5, and various video arts such as a virtual aquarium will be exhibited. The Sejong Center for the Performing Arts and the KT office building on the east side also has a media facade, and the night view of the area is decorated with video shows.

The ruins of the National Audit and Inspection Bureau of Goryeo and Korea, which were excavated during the renovation of the site Square, also attract the attention of passers-by. Since the square was established in 2009 to emphasize the historical value of the ruins, it has been exhibited at the place where archaeological relics were found, 1.2 meters deep, following the initiative of Mayor Oh .

In May 2021, the city government published the entire process of exposing the remains and urged an enthusiastic response. Yo Chang-Kwon, director of balance development, said the square is the center of the country, a symbol of Seoul, connecting the past and present, and people with art, and providing a place for people to interact differently.

“We will resume with a pleasant vegetation that mixes natural beauty with history and culture,” says Yeo. “I hope the new square will be filled with the footprints of many visitors.”

The city government began cleaning the statues of King Sejong and Admiral Yi with a high-pressure water jet on Monday before the square reopened. rice field. The agency last cleaned it 27 months before the refurbishment began.


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