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G-20 Summit Venue Turned Into Impregnable Fortress

Posted November. 11, 2010 11:24,   


The Seoul COEX, the venue for the G-20 summit, has been turned into an impregnable fortress.

Police were dispatched everywhere Wednesday within the complex including emergency stairs, basement parking lots and elevators. A double-layered security fence was erected around the complex, while armored vehicles, 1,000 police officers and helicopters were deployed.

○ Impenetrable fortress

Police and the G-20 security control committee established a 2-meter high green metal fence late Tuesday night around the complex, which includes the Korean World Trade Center and ASEM Tower. Additional fences were set up around street intersections and crosswalks from midnight Thursday, when traffic was barred completely.

People looked at the fences set up overnight. An office worker who took a photo near the fence said, “I think it was proper to set up security fences to prevent any unfortunate incidents.”

Korean traditional fences were also set up. A police officer said, “These fences offer better views than metal fences since they contain traditional Korean designs. We initially planned to put up ivy-covered fences around the 600-meter perimeter around the COEX, but decided to use them only when necessary to relieve inconvenience in commuting.”

○ Guardians

For tighter security ahead of the summit, police used emergency security alerts and deployed more than 50,000 officers, among whom 1,000 were deployed to the complex. The number is higher if combat police and conscripted policemen are included.

Among the 1,000 policemen, 500 will post guard in two shifts in the area around COEX, Samseong subway station and intersection around Kyunggi High School. Police were also deployed at 3,000 places deemed vulnerable to terrorist attacks, including the subway station and the COEX mall.

Special forces wearing bulletproof vests went on 24-hour guard armed with heavy weapons including submachine guns. Three-wheel electric police cars were patrolling outside the complex, while SWAT teams and dozens of sniffer dogs were deployed at the X-ray scanner at the complex and the Samseong and Seolleung subway stations.

Sniffer dogs were dispatched a month ago, sleeping at the freight car in the police bus.

One-man demonstrations were staged even amid tight security. Following a nude protest by a foreigner belonging to an animal rights group Tuesday, a man staged a 30-minute demonstration Wednesday.

○ Sanitation and a prayer room

Civil servants were on cleaning alert. With the area around the COEX covered with leaves after rain over the weekend, the Gangnam district office dispatched workers to rake the leaves.

The office also dispatched six of its 12 water-cleaning vehicles to clean the streets every morning. “We started to clean the area seven times a week instead of twice a week,” a Gangnam official said.

Mosquito quarantine teams from the Gangnam office will also work 24 hours, mobilizing when reports of mosquitoes are made at the hotels where G-20 summit leaders are staying or near the COEX complex.

Extra consideration was also made for visiting foreigners. Interpreters fluent in the languages used by summit participants were deployed and a prayer room was set up for Muslims.

An official at the G-20 summit organizing committee said, “The Seoul G-20 summit serves as a wonderful chance to introduce Korean culture, science and technology, and food to the world. We’ll do our best to leave a deep impression on the elite including G-20 summit participants, staff from international organizations and journalists.”

jhk85@donga.com jks@donga.com