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Sunday, 4 August 2013

Streets of Seoul, Part V: Sejong Boulevard (Sejong-daero)

The statue of King Sejong the Great blanketed with snow during Winter Season.
Sejong Boulevard a.k.a Sejong-daero (Hanja: 世宗大路) is a boulevard that stretches 2.2km (1.37 miles) from Seoul Station, Seoul Yongsan-gu to Gwanghwamun Gate of Gyeongbok Palace (Gyeongbokgung), Seoul Jongno-gu. This boulevard is a combination of two avenues: Sejong Avenue/Sejongno (세종로/世宗路) and Taepyeong Avenue/Taepyeongno (태평로/太平路) where the Sungnyemun (Namdaemun) in Seoul Jung-gu is located between these avenues. Sejongno and Taepyeongno are combined into Sejong Boulevard in 2010.

This boulevard is bestowed from the Fourth King of Joseon Dynasty, King Sejong the Great who invented Korean National Alphabet, the Hangul. It is a part of National Road No. 48 and  points north to Mount Bugak, Mount Bukhan, and one of the Jewel Palaces of Joseon DynastyGyeongbokgung. It is also of historical significant as the location for royal administrative buildings and features statues of the Admiral Yi Sunshin and King Sejong the Great.

At the crossroads, stands the statue of the Admiral Yi Sunshin, the naval war hero of Korea. At the northern end of Sejong Boulevard sits Gwanghwamun, the gate at the entrance to Gyeongbokgung. To either side of the street rests the Public Prosecutors Office, Sejong Center, U.S. Embassy, Kyobo Life Insurance, Kyobo Book Centre and Donga Ilbo headquarters.

It was customary for the Korean Marines who are about to graduate their 2 years of service, to congregate in front of Lee's statue and swear allegiance. This was stopped due to creating immense traffic congestions to the 8 lane street of Sejong Boulevard Northern Bound.

In 2009, major sections underwent a renovation period of 15-months, which downsized the 600-meter road from 16-lane to 10-lanes of traffic. The project included sections of the road from the front of Gwanghwamun and strenches south from the three-way intersection, along the front of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts to the Sejong Boulevard intersection (Sejong-daero Sageori), where the statue of the Admiral Yi Sunshin stands. The reduction was to construct the Gwanghwamun Plaza, a public open space in the center to the road.

On 29 November 2009, parts of road were closed to traffic for twelve hours to film lengthy gunfight scenes for Korean Broadcasting System (KBS)'s 2009 spy action television drama series Iris, starring Lee Byung-hunKim Tae-heeJung Joon-hoKim Seung-woo and Kim So-yeon. The five lanes along Gwanghwamun Plaza in front of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts were closed to traffic from 07:00 to 19:00, while the five lanes on the Kyobo Book Centre side remains open to traffic. This marks the first time the Seoul Metropolitan Government has granted permission to blocked traffic along the Plaza for filming and it is part of Government's plans to promote the city's major tourist attractions; including Cheonggye Stream and Han River.

On 23 September 2012, the Seoul Metropolitan Government started on a trial basis, a 550-m designated section of Sejong Boulevard Northern Bound as pedestrian-only but permitted for cyclists. The section includes the road from the Gwanghwamun three-way intersection (Gwanghwamun Samgeori), along Gwanghwamun Plaza in front of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts to the Sejong Boulevard intersection.

Seoul Station Rotary - Sungnyemun Rotary - Seoul City Hall Taepyeongno Main Office and Deoksu Palace (Deoksugung) - Seoul Shinmun Main Office - Four Intersections of Sejong Boulevard (Sejong-daero Sageori) and Kyobo Bookstore Gwanghwamun Main Branch - KT Gwanghwamun Branch, Sejong Center and Broadcast and Telecommunications Committee of Republic of Korea - US Embassy and Sejongno Park - Gwanghwamun Plaza and Government Complex of Seoul - Three Intersections of Gwanghwamun (Gwanghwamun Samgeori)