Doubt over Lotte measures persist

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Doubt over Lotte measures persist

The Seoul Metropolitan Government yesterday announced a set of measures that must be met before it would allow an early opening for the Lotte World Mall, also known as Lotte World II, in southeastern Seoul.

But the move does not appear to have been successful in quieting down an anxious public, which has continually raised questions about the stability of the complex as well as the government’s efforts in ensuring its safety.

The announcement comes after the city government approved Lotte Corporation’s request to provisionally open the Lotte World Mall complex - which includes the 123-story Lotte World Tower and three auxiliary buildings - for 10 days sans commercial operation over the Chuseok holiday, during which citizens had the opportunity to tour the complex.

Though, so far, it has only added to the criticism that the government is trying to shift the responsibility for the early opening onto the public.

The measures suggested by the city government yesterday included conducting safety drills with related authorities and experts; monitoring the traffic situation and parking reservation system; and organizing a task force with Lotte Corporation and district officials.

However, most of them were already carried out by an advisory panel comprised of civilians and experts in July and August, and experts already issued their assessment regarding traffic and safety around the complex.

The new measures announced are contrary to the remarks made by Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon in an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo on July 22, when he emphasized that the city government should take responsibility for the early opening of the complex.

“I sat in the middle of the table and listened to the experts debate,” Park said in the interview. “In the process, I concluded that there are no safety problems, but I said I will determine whether to open the complex early once 79 safety and traffic issues are solved.”

The local government originally turned down Lotte Corporation’s request to open its three low-rise buildings in April, demanding that it come up with solutions to improve traffic and safety issues in the area.

However, on Sept. 3, the Seoul government delayed its decision on an early opening, saying it would decide after the public has had a chance to look around the complex first. But the complex’s provisional opening during Chuseok did not have any programs that allowed visitors to assess safety.

Jin Hee-seon, the head of the city government’s Housing Policy Division, said yesterday that the Seoul government would determine the early opening. “The provisional opening is only to form a social consensus, and the Seoul government will make the final decision,” Jin said. “We will finalize the decision within the month.”

BY KANG IN-SIK, GONG HYEON-JEONG [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]














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