3-day weekend for Liberation DayThe government decided to designate Aug. 14 a temporary holiday for Liberation Day, which falls on the following day and carries special significance this year as it marks the 70th anniversary of the end of Japan’s 36-year colonial rule of Korea after World War II ended.
During her first Cabinet meeting Tuesday after returning to work from a summer vacation, Park told her Cabinet members to designate Friday, Aug. 14 a temporary holiday, in hopes that people will go out and spend and help the flagging Korean economy.
“Not only does this year’s 70th anniversary hold special meaning, but it is also important to revive the domestic economy [through a three-day holiday] by raising a sense of pride among the people,” Park said.
Korea’s economy has been hit by a slump in exports, a drought and the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome in May.
After 186 Koreans contracted the potentially fatal virus, foreign tourists cancelled visits to the country in fear of catching the disease.
To encourage tourists to visit Korea, especially from China, Park called for the implementation of a so-called Korea Grand Sale, which will run from Aug. 21 through Oct. 31. Over 30,000 businesses, including hotel chains, department stores and restaurants, will offer discounts. Lotte Duty Free will offer up to 80 percent discounts on some items, and Jeju Air will offer up to 70 percent discounts on some flights. The amusement park Everland will offer 50 percent discounts on tickets that give admission to all rides.
The designation of Aug. 14 as a holiday will get final approval at the next Cabinet meeting, scheduled for next Tuesday. During the three-day holiday that will run from Friday to Sunday, highways will waive tolls to encourage people to travel domestically.
Joseon Dynasty palaces, as well as other cultural heritage sites in Seoul, will be open to the public for free. State-owned art centers will also offer free admission from Friday to Sunday.
The government says an extra holiday will lead to a boost in domestic consumption of about 1.3 trillion won ($1.1 billion).
The government will hold its commemoration of Liberation Day on the holiday itself on Saturday, Aug. 15, and Park will give an address.
Park also called on her Cabinet to swiftly implement a supplementary budget of 11.6 trillion won.
BY KANG JIN-KYU [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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