Yeouido flower fest to go as planned, for 3,500 peopleSome 3,500 people will be able to enjoy the Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival — one of the largest cherry blossom festivals in Korea — through an online raffle, but concerns are rising over ticket resales and possible spread of the coronavirus.
On Monday, Yeongdeungpo District Office, which governs Yeouido in western Seoul, announced that it will control the 1.7 kilometers (1 mile) of Yeouiseo-ro from April 1 to 12.
Three-thousand five-hundred lucky applicants from the website (https://blossom.or.kr/) will be allowed to walk the beautiful cherry blossom street. Applications will begin from April 1.
The festival will be held for seven days, from April 5 to 11. Seven groups will be allowed to enter from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. at one-hour, 30-minute intervals each day. Each group will consist of 99 people. An individual can register with up to three other people.
With almost all spring flower festivals canceled nationwide, some citizens are excited at the change to get to admire the most beloved spring flowers in Korea, despite the virus.
On the other hand, others raised concerns about holding the festival amid the ongoing pandemic.
"There are still 300 to 400 newly confirmed patients every day, and I cannot believe they are doing a draw," said a 28-year-old employee surnamed Jung.
According to an official from Yeongdeungpo District Office, the office submitted the rough plan for the number of people to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, and passed the standard to receive support.
"[The festival] will be held under quarantine rules according to social distancing Level 2," the official said.
Chon Eun-mi, a professor of respiratory medicine at Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital, said, "As the spring flower festivals are mainly held outdoors, the risk of infection is lower compared to indoor activities, but people should wear KF masks and keep 1 to 2 meters [3 to 6 feet] apart."
Chon added, "People should still refrain from eating food [outside] as they will have to pull down their masks, and also be careful even if they don't have symptoms, given there have been many cases of asymptomatic spread among people in their 20s and 30s."
Concerns have also surfaced over ticket reselling, as some suspect winners might sell the tickets online at a higher price. Some online users wrote comments predicting resellers online saying, "Cherry Blossom tickets sold for 300,000 won [$270]."
Regarding the potential reselling, Lee Eun-hee, a professor of consumer studies at Inha University, said, "A structure can be made in which the winners could sell at an higher price given the value of scarcity to 3,500 people.
"In the past, there were not many sales routes, but reselling was activated as suppliers and consumers could make exchanges easily following the spread of [secondhand online shopping market] users," Lee said.
The district office official said, "There will be an identification process at the site. We will establish a system internally to prevent the QR code from being copied, so it will be difficult to enter with a [resold] ticket unless someone steals their name or ID card."
Most of the spring flower festivals this year were canceled, including the Jinhae Gunhangje Festival and Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Festival, and the Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival must follow strict precautions in order to continue as the national spring flower festival.
BY SEO JI-EUN, HAM MIN-JUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]