Under the new rules, event organizers and protestors won’t be able to occupy the landmark location for more than six days for the same event, as the Seoul Metropolitan Government is poised to tackle the issue of no-shows.
The amendment regarding the use and maintenance of Gwanghwamun Square was announced on Wednesday, replacing the city’s previous ordinance which only looked into the nature, purpose and legality of events and protests before giving permission to go forward, without a limit on the length of occupation.
The latest move by the Seoul Metropolitan Government comes following criticism against the previous ordinance over a lack of clarity, which meant an arbitrary standard has been used for the Seoul government officials to decide when to give the green light to events and protests.
The practice among some event organizers of booking the venue for extended periods of time and canceling at the last minute played a major role in the new changes, as the no-shows put a strain on government coffers in the absence of a specific refund policy.
Against this backdrop, the Seoul government from now will be able to deny event and protest organizers access to the venue based on a number of reasons, including a long-term use of over six days, causing disruption and inconvenience to the nearby location and passengers, and having failed to cover the cost of property damages caused from previous events.
“Between April and May, or September and October, many event organizers don’t get to use the space even after filing an application, and last minute cancellations leaving the venue empty for a long time can make others frustrated,” a Seoul government official said.
In addition, the Seoul government will also introduce a new rule governing the order in which protests are held during busy months, based on when application e-mails are sent, and will provide a communication channel through which event organizers can adjust and agree on schedules.
With another new policy allowing event organizers to make plans ahead of time for up to 30 days of the year, the Seoul government is hopeful its new guidelines will encourage more equitable use of Gwanghwamun Square throughout the year.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)