Seoul mayor wants to replace Yongsan base with a large garden
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon announced plans to create a large garden in central Seoul where visitors can experience different “gardens of each continent and country.”
The remarks were made on Saturday during a visit to the International Garden Festival in Chaumont-sur Loire, France, one of the world’s three largest garden festivals.
Oh kicked off an 11-day tour around Europe last Friday and is expected to visit four countries through Oct. 31 — France, Switzerland, Spain and the Netherlands.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government said the purpose of the trip was to get inspiration on urban development.
While visiting the garden festival in France, the Seoul mayor said it was his dream to design the Korean capital to look like a garden, including by creating a garden at Yongsan Park in Yongsan District, central Seoul, once the U.S. military completely leaves the Yongsan base.
By late July, the United States had returned 31 percent of land at the base, said Korea’s Land Ministry. The military base, which totals around 2 million square meters (494 acres), is being returned in several phases to the Korean government based on a bilateral agreement between the two countries in 2004 to move the base to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, and other parts of the country.
Permission from the central government would be required to allow a garden to be created at the park, Oh pointed out.
Oh also mentioned plans to develop the Seoul Garden Show into a globally renowned exhibition by increasing the number of gardens showcased in the show from the current 28 to over 40 next year.
Instead of scrapping all the garden installations once the show ends, Oh said the city would manage the gardens all throughout the year and invite horticulture experts and scholars from around the world to hold academic forums.
In comparison, the International Garden Festival features about 30 different gardens sprawled across 35,000 square meters. The Seoul Garden Show currently occupies about 7,500 square meters of land.
The Seoul Garden Show is an annual festival that kicked off in 2015. This year’s festival was held from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6 at Dream Forest in Gangbuk District, northern Seoul. Next year’s festival is set to be held along the Han River.
Oh’s ultimate goal is to attract more foreign tourists to Seoul. Seoul saw about 14 million foreign visitors in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic. Oh wishes to increase that figure to 30 million.
Last August, the Seoul Metropolitan Government unveiled the Great Sunset Han River project, which included plans to build more tourist attractions around the city such as large floating stages and waterfront sculptures along the Han River. Oh’s ambition to build the world’s tallest observation wheel, larger than the London Eye or the Singapore Flyer, was also announced.
BY LEE SUNG-EUN,MOON HEE-CHUL [email@example.com]