The memorial hall for the 2014 sinking of the Sewol ferry was planned to be demolished as part of the current Gwanghwamun square reconstruction, gathering reactions from the public.
A group of bereaved families and civic group members, the 416 Global Network, expressed their willingness to negotiate where to place the memorial space until the construction is finished.
“But we are disappointed that the city government has neither considered such options nor suggested a meeting with the mayor for discussion,” the 416 Global Network said.
The decision to remove the hall was made amid the discussion between the two parties since last year.
During the construction, the memorial space can be moved. It can be established again when the construction of the Gwanghwamun Square is done.
Instead of allowing for the hall to be reestablished at the square, the city government has suggested putting up a memorial stone or trees.
“We do not want the city government to set up a memorial stone or tree. The exhibition space is a place for citizens to remember and mourn the tragedy, although the city’s unilateral decision concerning its removal is nothing but a sign of their refusal to memorialize the country’s worst accident,” the group said.
The city government cited an agreement made with the bereaved families in 2019 that the hall will be run until December of the same year as the Gwanghwamun Square renovation project will take place.
Ex-Mayor Park, however, decided at the end of 2019 for the space to be kept for an additional year. The removal of the hall was rescheduled to December 2020 but the former mayor died in an apparent suicide in July 2020. He was replaced last April by People Power Party’s Oh Se-hoon.
“We met several times since July of last year with the families to discuss the removal issue, and we told them the space should be cleared when the reconstruction of the square begins,” according to a city official, adding that there is “no possibility” for the space to be moved somewhere else in the city, as reported by The Korea Times.
“From the perspective of the bereaved families, the removal of the space might be disappointing and we fully sympathize with them, but we are only proceeding with the previously planned process and have no other intentions,” the official added.