The Gwanghwamun area will soon transform into a place for citizens to walk around and enjoy various activities. Gwanghwamun Square will become larger in space, expanding to the direction of Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, and have park-like features added to it. The east side of the road from Sejong-daero Junction to Gwanghwamun will be widened to 7–9 lanes, and then it will be connected to the “People Forest Road” along Sejong-daero, completing a walking trail of about 2.6 kilometers from Seoul Station to Gwanghwamun. This will create the perfect pedestrian-friendly environment in the areas of Sajik-dong, Cheongunhyoja-dong, Samcheong-dong and more, increasing accessibility to Gwanghwamun Square and attracting more visitors, which is expected to vitalize the commercial district of the area.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) established the specific plans of this project by consulting with experts and related agencies based on the voices of citizens and developed them through another round of active communication with citizens, which led to the direction of transforming the square into a place where people can relax and enjoy their stroll.
Considering the willingness of citizens, the SMG set the basic initiatives of the Gwanghwamun Square transformation project—phased conversion of walking trail completion; inclusion of park-like features; and futuristic planning of the entire Gwanghwamun area. It also revealed the four specific plans of great impact brought on by communicating with citizens.
First, to minimize the inconvenience incurred from heavy traffic congestion in Sajik-ro, the east side of the road from Sejong-daero Junction to Gwanghwamun will be widened to a two-way road of 7–9 lanes (7 driving lanes), while maintaining its functions. Traffic policies of the area were decided through preliminary deliberation procedures and consultation with local residents and related organizations.
Second, the west side of the road near Sejong Center for the Performing Arts will be transformed into part of a square that will contain a park. It will have seasonal flowers and trees, creating a park-like square in the heart of the city. The conversion of the west-side road to a square was opted through considerations of public opinion poll results, experts’ opinions, and suitability with surrounding buildings.
Third, the underground space will not undergo massive development—the existing Haechi Plaza will simply be renovated.
Fourth, nearby areas of the square, including the west side of Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon and Cheonggyecheon Stream, will have improved walking environments, creating an overall pedestrian-friendly city. The area of Gwanghwamun that connects to Seoul Station, including Gwanghwamun, Sejong-ro Park and the site of Uijeongbu, will soon have a comprehensive development plan.
To realize this, the road widening project for the east side road of the square will commence by the end of October 2020. It is planned to be done in connection with the ongoing People Forest Road project along Sejong-daero (1.5-km walkway from Seoul Station to Sejong-daero Junction).