SEOUL, June 1 (Korea Bizwire) – Gwanghwamun Square, one of Seoul’s most famous landmarks in the heart of the historical downtown area, could become a more pedestrian-friendly and car free space, according to a new urban design proposal put forward by Seoul’s official urban planning committee.
Gwanghwamun Forum, a committee consisting of some 40 experts in the fields of urban planning, history, transport and architecture, dedicated to redesigning the area of Gwanghwamun Square, published a new blueprint yesterday after holding an open debate with citizens.
According to the proposal by Gwanghwamun Forum, the famous Sejongno, a multiple-lane thoroughfare that runs parallel to Gwanghwamun Square, which faces Gyeongbokgung Palace, could be buried below ground in a network of underground tunnels from the point where the Gwanghwamun Kyobo Building and KT’s Gwanghwamun building meet.
If the Seoul government decides to move forward, the groundbreaking city planning proposal is expected to completely reshape Gwanghwamun Square, which now faces both the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts and the American embassy.
The committee behind the proposal argues that by replacing some sections of Sejongno with underground tunnels, restoring a pair of traditional Haetae statues to their original positions would also be possible, while other ideas suggested included building information facilities.
According to a survey conducted by Gwanghwamun Forum last month, most citizens associate Gwanghwamun Square with politics and cultural events.
When asked what they think of as the most impressive moment in Gwanghwamun Square, more than half of the 1,063 respondents aged over 20 who have visited the area in the past said the sight of ‘citizens that gathered to participate in an event with a political or cultural cause.’
When it comes to inconveniences, nearly three in ten respondents commented on a lack of rest areas, while over 50 percent said improvements need to be made regarding usability and convenience.
The committee says it will continue to work and share opinions with both private citizens and experts during the process, while pushing for reforms to the current ordinance regarding the running of Gwanghwamun Square.
The new proposal is expected to be submitted to both the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the central government.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)