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Seoul National Cemetery to become more accessible to public

Seoul National Cemetery to become more accessible to public

Posted May. 30, 2023 07:59,   

Updated May. 30, 2023 07:59


Plans are in place to realign the jurisdiction of the Seoul National Cemetery (SNC) from the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs (MPVA). This significant change, occurring on the 70th anniversary of the cemetery's establishment, will see it become a focal point for honoring national patriotism and veterans. The MPVA plans to transform the cemetery from its current into a more approachable place for citizens, thereby establishing it as a central place symbolizing patriotism and veterans' honor.

In a phone call with The Dong-A Ilbo, an official from the Presidential office disclosed ongoing discussions to transfer the cemetery’s jurisdiction. The move would allow the MPVA to maintain and manage all national cemeteries under one unified system. This strategic change will be deliberated and decided at the National Veterans Affairs Committee meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, coinciding with the elevation of the office to a ministry-level body next month.

Up until now, the SNC has been overseen by the MND, while the remaining 11 national cemeteries, including Daejeon National Cemetery (DNC), were managed by the MPVA. This bifurcation stems from the fact that the SNC started as a military cemetery in 1955, exclusively intended to honor those who lost their lives in the Korean War.

Internal discussions within the MPVA are underway to refashion the SNC into a hub for fostering and celebrating veterans' culture, designated as the 'Patriotism and Veterans Honor Cluster.' The vision is to replicate the accessibility of the Arlington National Cemetery in the U.S., encouraging ordinary citizens to regularly visit and pay homage to the nation’s patriotic forebears. A high-ranking government official noted the need for change: "Despite the Seoul National Cemetery's symbolic importance as a national monument, it has been insufficient in reaching out to the public. A transformation is necessary – one that augments infrastructure, improves accessibility, and invites citizens to engage more deeply with the legacy of our nation's veterans."

Kwan-Seok Jang jks@donga.com