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New Gwanghwamun Plaza to open to the public tomorrow
2022-08-13
After a year and nine months of construction, the new Gwanghwamun Plaza is set to open to the public tomorrow.  
 
The Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) said Friday it will host the Ceremony of the Royal Palace Chief Gatekeepers, also known as the Sunra Parade, from tomorrow to Aug. 14 to celebrate the completion of the plaza that reflects the 600-year history of the capital city.  
 
Sunra refers to the night patrol of the royal gatekeepers of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The gatekeepers had to walk along the perimeters of the palace walls during the night to prevent fires and theft. The Sunra Parade is a reenactment of the traditional palace patrol that shows the clothes and weapons of the time. The CHA said the upcoming parade will use the clothes and weapons from the early Joseon Period during King Sejong’s reign (1418-50). As the reenactment is for the public to witness, the parade will take place during the day, instead of at night, the CHA explained.  

 
About 50 gatekeepers will leave Gwanghwamun Gate at 10:15 a.m. when the changing of the guards comes to an end. They will walk down the new Gwanghwamun Plaza that’s now 2.1 times larger than before. The gatekeepers will parade down to the Statue of King Sejong and will then will let their guards down to take pictures with the public.  
 
The parade will be held every day until Aug. 14 except Tuesdays when the palace shuts down and on rainy days.  
 
About two-thirds of Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul has been fenced off since October 2020 under Seoul City Government’s grand project to redesign the area as a “more pedestrian-friendly park-like plaza.” The plan involved expanding the Gwanghwamun Plaza, which went through a major facelift in 2009, westward and eliminating southbound traffic lanes between the plaza and the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.  
 
According to the Seoul City Government, it increased the green areas to take up a quarter of the plaza. It planted about 5,000 new plants including 300 tall trees. New fountains have been installed as well, one measuring 40 meters (131.2 feet).  
 
The domains of Yukjogeori (street of six government offices) and the structures discovered during the construction such as stone foundations, waterways and pieces of ceramic, will be exhibited so that visitors can see the remnants of major government offices of the Joseon Dynasty.    
 
The city government has also organized a special event to celebrate the reopening. An outdoor stage will be set up in the plaza for different celebratory performances at 7 p.m. on Saturday. The city government also added that rallies and protests will no longer be authorized in the plaza so that the area can become a “true resting place for the citizens.”  
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