New Gwanghwamun will be ready in April
“Apart from the restoration work on woldae [terrace] and the Haechi statues, all current construction on the square will be completed by April,” said the Seoul Metropolitan Government in a statement.
The square is being expanded westward, eliminating southbound traffic lanes between the square and the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.
The statues of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-shin will stay put but will be augmented with features to tell their stories, according to the city government. They include Hangul letters designed in a way that they look metallic during the day but are lit at night. Sejong is the king of Korea who invented hangul, or the writing system of the Korean language.
The first floor of the KT headquarters in Gwanghwamun will also be turned into a public lounge, and the basement floor will have new restaurants and cafes.
Some historical features of the square will be restored by 2023, according to the city government.
This includes the statue of haetae (a mythical unicorn lion, which is a legendary creature in Korea) that used to stand on south side of the Gwanghwamun Gate in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), and the woldae, or terrace, that used to stand in front of the gate. The woldae was where the king held public rituals, and where ordinary citizens could get a glimpse of the king.
These finds point to the existence of a road called Yukjogeori from the Joseon Dynasty, which used to stretch north-south from the Gyeongbok Palace and used to hold important government offices.
These finds will be preserved and exhibited at the square by 2023, the city government said.
BY ESTHER CHUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]