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Mayor to reconsider plans for giant flagpole

July 11, 2024 - 15:05 By Lee Jaeeun
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon holds a press briefing regarding the plan to establish a national symbol space in Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)

The Seoul Metropolitan Government will reconsider its plan to erect a 100-meter-tall flagpole with a giant Taegeukgi, or South Korea's national flag, in Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul, Mayor Oh Se-hoon said during a press briefing held at the city hall on Thursday.

The mayor said he would take public opinions before pushing ahead with the plan to create the National Monument Space featuring the large flagpole, initially announced on June 25 on the 74th anniversary of the 1950-53 Korean War.

"We will gather extensive feedback with an open mind to ensure that the National Monument Space reflects the collective will of the people and stands as a significant landmark in Gwanghwamun Square," Oh said.

Feedback will be accepted through its official website. Additionally, an advisory committee of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, consisting of civic groups and experts, will discuss and propose the scale and design of the monuments related to the National Monument Space.

This is seen as a step back by the mayor, as he sought to transform Gwanghwamun Square into a landmark showcasing Korea's identity and heritage, similar to the Washington Monument in the United States, the Arc de Triomphe in France or the Spire of Dublin in Ireland.

The project was to include the towering flagpole as well as a symbolic "Unextinguishable Flame" to honor patriots and war veterans.

However, this proposal faced significant opposition from political circles and civil society, with critics labeling it an excessive display of patriotism and nationalism. Concerns were also raised regarding the aesthetics and practicality of such a structure within Gwanghwamun Square.

Oh said that although the 100-meter flagpole concept could be shelved, the broader project to commemorate significant historical events and figures would continue. The revised plan will also engage public and expert opinions to design symbolic structures or spaces that collectively reflect Korea's historical milestones, such as the Korean War, the March First Movement and the April 19 Revolution.

The city plans to launch a design competition from August to November this year, with construction scheduled to begin in May 2025 and completion expected by December 2025.

A rendered image of the proposed National Monument Space in Gwanghwamun Square, provided by the Seoul Metropolitan Government (The Seoul Metropolitan Government)