Seoul makes way for more pedestrian areasAs part of an effort to make Seoul friendlier to pedestrians, the city is undertaking several projects intended to provide more leisure spaces where residents can engage in cultural activities or just take a walk to release their stress.
The city of Seoul announced such plans on Monday. The construction will cost 9.4 billion won ($7.8 million).
With the scheduled changes, some of the current familiar landscapes of Seoul are expected to change.
The sidewalks along Sejongno, Taepyeongno and Namdaemunno are expected to be widened, and 16 crosswalks are to be placed at strategic locations so that pedestrians don’t have to use underground tunnels to cross a street.
In addition, a public square is planned for this May in front of City Hall, with others set to grace the areas in front of Gwanghwamun and Namdaemun that are scheduled to be completed by April 2005. At the planned square in front of Namdaemun, the city is building a photo zone, exclusively for those who want to take photographs.
The architectural plans for the park in front of City Hall are currently being drawn up while the process itself will start as soon as the police have laid out plans for the traffic flow.
Other plans include demolishing the 6-meter-wide green area that separates the Sejongno road, which will go down to seven lanes from eight.
The statue of General Lee Sun-shin, a famous navy admiral who defeated the Japanese navy several times during the Joseon dynasty, which has been guarding the road since 1968, is scheduled to move to the Gwanghwamun Yeollinmadang Park, which is located between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Gwanghwamun.
The statue, which was produced by Kim Sae-jung in 1968, weighs eight tons and is 12 meters tall. It was placed at its current location by late President Park Chung Hee.
The Jongno district announced on Monday new plans to revive an area commonly called Daehagno that stretches from Hyehwa-dong to Ehwa-dong.
The district has requested that the city of Seoul designate the area as a cultural zone, which would put certain restrictions on the usage of the buildings in that area. Businesses in this area that are considered to be in the cultural industry are eligible for receiving special tax benefits and low-interest loans. Currently, there are 50 mini theaters, five art galleries, three movie theaters and three museums located in the area.
An official with the district says that the district will submit a formal request next month that it hopes the city council will approve by May.
In addition, the district has also asked the city of Seoul to change the name of the subway station from Hyehwa station to Daehagno station in order to increase area’s name recognition.
The district also plans to install up to 25 sculptures along the road and build three public theaters, each with a 500-seat capacity.
Marronnier Park in Hyewha-dong, which is often frequented by couples, is also scheduled for a facelift. A new fountain and information office are planned, while old facilities will be removed and new artwork will be commissioned.
Other plans for the park include removing several stone walls belonging to Seoul National University’s medical school and the Hongik Design School. They will be replaced by trees, benches and sculptures.
by Yang Young-yu