Posted June. 07, 2012 00:39,
The Patriots and Veterans Affairs Ministry will build a "Memorial Flame" at Seoul National Cemetery to honor the memory and spirit of the nation`s patriots and veterans.
"We will start an eternal flame at the cemetery on Memorial Day to pay tribute to heroes who gave their lives for their country next year," the ministry said in a statement Wednesday. The plan was decided on in August last year.
Under the plan, the flame will resemble the "Eternal Flame" of the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington and the "Memorial Fire" under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and lit 24 hours a day.
Former Special Affairs Minister Lee Jae-oh proposed the project on Twitter in late 2010, and gained a huge public response. President Lee Myung-bak also supports the project, the ministry said.
The memorial flame was not lit on this year`s Memorial Day, however. The ministry has yet to decide the site due to a cut in related budget by parliament last year.
The National Assembly`s State Affairs Committee submitted a budget proposal of 3.2 billion won (2.71 million dollars) at the end of last year, of which parliament approved 500 million won (423,549 dollars) for the design cost. Committee members opposed the flame being built at Seoul National Cemetery because since the area is out of the way, few people are expected to visit.
Accordingly, the committee nullified the project and demanded that the ministry reexamine potential sites and report it to parliament before proceeding. The related budget was slashed and the plan to light a fire on Memorial Day this year was postponed to June next year.
In late May, the ministry surveyed 1,500 people over age 19 and conducted online voting for 80,000 people to select the candidate sites, and the results will soon be announced. The candidate sites include the National Assembly, the War Memorial of Korea, Seoul National Cemetery, Gwanghwamun Square, Cheonggye Square and Yeouido Square.
Even when the site is decided, construction will start only after the Seoul Metropolitan Government conducts screening for final approval by the mayor later. The city government was negative last year on the establishment of a flame facility at Gwanghwamun Square due to operational matters, according to the ministry.
A ministry official said, "If a site is decided among the four candidates, we will hold close discussions with the city and related institutions to ensure that the flame is finally lit on Memorial Day next year."