SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, November 23, 2020 – The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it started the construction work on November 16 to create the relaxing and pedestrian-friendly Gwanghwamun Square, based on over 300 times of discussions with citizens over the last four years. The construction will be carried out in stages, starting from the expansion and maintenance of the eastern road of Gwanghwamun Square.
As there have continuously been civic complaints about the inconvenience in using the Square, the city government has steadily communicated with citizens by setting up the Gwanghwamun Forum (2016) and the Gwanghwamun Citizen Council (2018), to solve this issue through citizens’ collective intelligence.
In February 2020, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced its project direction based on the citizens’ opinions. After around 20 rounds of preliminary administration (deliberation) process and discussions with residents and relevant agencies, including the Ministry of the Interior and Safety and the Cultural Heritage Administration, the city announced, this September, the final plan to transform the Gwanghwamun Square into the relaxing and pedestrian-friendly place.
The western section of the Square by the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts will be incorporated into the Square to enlarge the pedestrian road. The lanes on the eastern section by the US Embassy will be widened to a two-way road of 7–9 lanes.
The more expansive square will turn into a “park-like square enjoyed in daily life,” reflecting citizens’ wishes. This space will be filled with a rich scent of flowers and grass, a forest of four seasons, and shade as over 100 kinds of flowering trees in various sizes will be planted.
In order to prevent traffic and pedestrian inconvenience, the construction will be conducted in two stages: 1) expansion and maintenance of the eastern section (November 2020 – February 2021) and 2) creation of a park-like square (May – October 2021).
The first stage of the construction will be carried out on the road near the Square. The expansion and maintenance of the eastern road will be completed by February 2021 so that the western road traffic can pass through the eastern section. With the Seoul Metropolitan Council’s resolution last year, a budget of KRW 10.1 billion is allocated to this construction, which will be conducted by the end of February 2021.
In the second stage of the construction, the road on the western section will be replaced with a pedestrian road, becoming a “square embracing a park,” which is one of the most common opinions from citizens. Flowers, trees, and grass will be planted so that citizens can feel the seasonal change. In addition, a bicycle lane will be installed on the eastern section of the Square. During the construction, improvement works will also be conducted for the Haechi Madang and the Sejongno Park to promote stronger alignment between the Square and neighboring areas.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government will complete the expansion and maintenance of the eastern section of the Square by this year to minimize citizens’ inconvenience and the impact on neighboring commercial districts, with consideration on road connection following the creation of the “Pedestrian Forest Path of Sejong-daero.”
To maintain the current traffic speed, the construction will occupy the only one road. Along with this, the city sets up and implements the comprehensive traffic measure including 17 plans in order to minimize the inconvenience of drivers and public transportation users.
For the seamless implementation of this measure, the city will immediately launch the Task Force for Traffic Management of Gwanghwamun Square jointly with Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.
Acting Mayor of Seoul, Seo Jeong-hyup said, “The Gwanghwamun Square project has been aligned with the city governance to promote the “recovery of the historical characteristics of Gwanghwamun Square,” and the “expansion of pedestrian zone in Fortress Wall of Seoul,” based on the Seoul Historic Downtown plan (2015) and the Special Measures for the Green Traffic Promotion Zone (2018). The Seoul Metropolitan Government will keep its way to respect the long history of citizen’s participation and communication, and to live up to their effort and expectation, because we were able to reach the outcome through more than 300 times of communication with citizens over the 4 years. The Gwanghwamun Square, the heart of downtown Seoul, will turn from grey to green and become a base space of ecological civilization.”