Squares and plazas in Seoul, open to all including protests and sit-ins, may get a "break" day.
Citizens have been calling for a "break" from rallies at Gwanghwamun Square, Cheonggye Plaza, Seoul Plaza and other public spaces in downtown Seoul, and the city government is seriously considering this.
|Conservative groups hold a rally at Gwanghwamun Square, Oct. 3. Korea Times file|
"The idea has been suggested multiple times during meetings of a civic committee which was formed to discuss the remodeling of Gwanghwamun Square," a city official said.
The spaces subject to the plan are Gwanghwamun Square, the western side of Seoul Plaza and Cheonggye Plaza. Once a day is designated, any events including rallies and protests will not be permitted on the day.
To set legal grounds to designate the day, the city needs to change ordinances. "We have been reviewing, in working-level discussions, whether changing the ordinances will be possible," the official said, adding details of the plan have not been decided yet.
The city said it will conduct a poll first to gather public opinion for the plan. If the public shows a positive reaction to the plan, the city will move to revise the ordinances and determine how often and which days should be designated as no-rally days.
Besides the poll, the city will also refer to the ordinances of other cities such as Berlin, London and Prague, about running such spaces.
The response to the plan is largely positive.
"It has been too loud for too long," said Ryu Kyung-sook, an office worker in a building nearby Gwanghwamun Square.
"The protests, rallies, their loudspeakers and endless speeches, have ruined my day. Are we asking too much if we, my coworkers and I, want to take a walk around the square during lunch time? Are we asking too much if we want to go home without hearing any loud voices from the speakers after work?"
Yim Chang-bin, who works at an office near the square, said, "Activist groups holding rallies make all the noise. They are singing, chanting and yelling every day."
Yim added, "I understand they are exercising their rights, but their chanting has become nothing but noise pollution. No one's listening. People just want to pass by the space quickly."