More than 100, 000 people are gathering to celebrate as South Korea holds a bell-ringing ceremony at Bosingal Pavilion to mark the New Year.
This year was different, though, due to the threat of the infectious COVID-19 virus. The pandemic has cancelled for the first time the annual tradition that existed in 1953, bringing the event in a video that was pre-recorded.
Seoul citizens, despite the changes, still regard the bell ringing as a special part of their New Year.
The Bosingak bell-ringing ceremony was recently added by the Seoul Metropolitan Government to its list of Seoul Future Heritage list. The ceremony was an addition to the assigned 488 building, sites, and non-physical cultural assets of the city listed since 2013. These assets of the city are considered as an important part of history and culture, and worthy to be preserved and passed down to the next generations.
According to the city government, the bell-ringing ceremony embodies Seoul’s New Year event, and it became a tradition through the years of observance.
“The Bosingak bell tolling at night comes to mind when people think of the New Year and January,” Kim Kyung-tak deputy director of the city’s culture policy division, Kim Kyung-tak, said.
Annually, the bell is ring by the mayor of Seoul, government officials and invited representatives to signal the new year.
Seoul citizens and other people who want to witness the annual celebration surround the pavilion near Jonggak Station in Seoul Metro Line 1. The event is comparable to the yearly ball drop witnessed in the Times Square, New York.
The bell is rung for 33 times, in accordance to the 33 heavens of Buddhism, and is being broadcasted through major television channels.
The event welcomes hope for the welfare and progress of the country and its people.
Apart from the Bosingal Bell, the Yeouido Park was also added by the government in the Seoul Future Heritage list.
The said park was originally created as an airfield in 1916 when South Korea was under the Japanese occupation. Yeouido Park serves as an airfield and an airbase after liberation. It was reestablished in 1972 to become a space for large crowds. Developed as 5.16 Square, the square refers to Park Chung-hee’s 1961 military coup d’etat.
The square was later on developed into a public park. It officially welcomed people on January 24, 1999.
“Watching Trams”, a short story by writer Ha Geun-chan, was also included in the list. The literary masterpiece first came out in January 1976 under the Literature and Thought publishing.
“Watching Trams” tells the feelings of citizens who ride the subway for the first time. The story is about the journey of a man and his grandson in the subway, as their new experience. The writer, through the story, has poured his regret and void regarding the fast changes in the society, and expressed his yearning for the past.
The short story made it to the list as it shows Seoul’s history, including the opening of the subway, the city government said.