About 600 police officers will be deployed to Gwanghwamun Square on Thursday evening to screen thousands of people who are expected to turn up to cheer on Korea’s 2022 World Cup soccer team’s first match against Uruguay.
The square in front of the US Embassy will be divided into several parts, each of which will have a different exit route. After the game is over, the crowd will have many exits.
Police officers and officials from the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Jongno District Office, as well as the event’s host Red Devils, will be looking for potential safety hazards at subway exits and other difficult areas.
The SWAT team will be looking for explosives.
When the game ends near midnight, the police will move to nearby nightlife districts to manage security.
The plan was announced by the Seoul metropolitan government on Wednesday, a day after it allowed the Red Devils to hold so-called mass cheering events in downtown Seoul for World Cup matches this week and next.
The Red Devils is the official supporter club of the Korea national soccer team.
Korea will play three matches next week: against Uruguay on Thursday at 22:00 local time; against Portugal on Tuesday at 4am; and against Ghana on December 3 at midnight.
Large public events have been held in Seoul during every World Cup since the historic Korea-Japan World Cup in 2002, when the Korea national soccer team reached the semi-finals, the farthest in World Cup history.
According to government estimates, more than 8 million people filled the streets of downtown Seoul during the 2002 Games.
This year, approval from the Seoul metropolitan government was delayed after a surge in crowds in Itaewon on October 29, when 158 people were killed during Halloween celebrations in the Itaewon district of downtown Seoul.
Lack of crowd control and security measures were blamed.
The police were heavily criticized for their lack of precautions.
While most local governments outside of Seoul said they had no plans to host any public events, some said they could allow private sector organizers like the Red Devils to host them if they put forward solid security plans.
During Wednesday’s meeting on the Itaewon and Covid-19 tragedies, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo appealed to the Red Devils, police, fire departments and local governments to “prepare thoroughly” for World Cup events and make sure “not a single accident happens.
Han asked members of the public to cooperate with the authorities to ensure the safety of the events.
Regarding the Itaewon tragedy, Han said that all funeral services for the victims, including foreigners, had been completed.
Discussions are underway to review the national security system to prevent similar incidents in the future, Han continued.
Regarding Covid, Han warned that the threat is still real, mentioning that more than 70,000 people tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. The prime minister said he was strongly recommending all seniors get extra vaccines.
LEE SUNG-EUN [[email protected]]