Seoul mayor to reconsider 100-meter flagpole at Gwanghwamun Square amid growing criticism

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon explains the purpose and meaning of erecting a 100-meter flagpole at Gwanghwamun Square during a press briefing at City Hall, Thursday. Yonhap

The Seoul Metropolitan Government will reconsider its plan to set up a 100-meter-tall flagpole at Gwanghwamun Square, amid growing public opposition, the mayor said Thursday.

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon also said he is open to all possibilities as long as it boosts national pride and honors war veterans.

“The core aim of the initiative is to boost public pride, foster a sense of national patriotism and honor war veterans,” Oh said during a press briefing at City Hall.

During a meeting with Korean War veterans on June 25, Oh announced plans to dedicate a sculpture symbolizing patriotism and national pride to Gwanghwamun Square. The initial proposal included a 100-meter-tall flagpole, flying a Korean national flag measuring 21 meters wide and 14 meters high.

Oh acknowledged that previous explanations about the purpose and meaning of the project were insufficient.

He emphasized that Gwanghwamun Square, the heart of the city, is a national symbol where history, culture and civic spirit coexist. He also noted 대표하는 that the square is a significant landmark for not only Seoul citizens but also foreign residents and international tourists.

To enhance the symbolic nature of the site, Oh plans to install a media facade to display moving images and a brazier to hold an “inextinguishable flame” in honor of patriots and Korean War veterans.

He suggested that this memorial could become a significant site for visitors, particularly those from the 22 countries that participated in the Korean War.

“It can be a place commemorating the 22 countries that took part in the Korean War, becoming a must-visit site for international visitors,” Oh said.

He also defended the choice of hanging the national flag at Gwanghwamun Square, stating that the national flag is universally recognized as the country’s symbol.

He cited examples from other countries, such as the Civic Center in San Francisco, Marunouchi Square in Tokyo and Plaza de la Constitución in Mexico City, Mexico, where national flags serve as prominent symbols.

Oh pointed out that there are five officially recognized national symbols according to the Ministry of Interior and Safety — the national flag, national anthem, national flower, national emblem and national seal.

“It doesn’t need to be the national flag necessarily. It can be anything among these five symbols, or even beyond these symbols if there is public consensus,” he said.

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