SEOUL, Dec. 31 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s capital city will welcome the new year with a traditional bell-ringing ceremony at Bosingak, the metropolitan government said Thursday.
It said the Watch-Night bell in Jongno district, downtown Seoul, will be rung 33 times on New Year’s Eve by 11 people, including Seoul city mayor Park Won-soon.
The ceremony, broadcast live across the country, has been held every year since 1953. The ringing of the bell bids farewell to the old year and is an expression of hope, happiness and expectations for the new year.
Besides Park, a paramedic who saved 11 people, a person who overcame the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus and the widow of the late bell-ringer who helped her late husband maintain the belfry will be taking part in the ceremony that kicks off at midnight.
The Seoul government added that a “official Santa Claus” from Finland will join as an honorary guest to ring the bell.
Organizers for the event said live performances will be held along with a speech given by the mayor.
Public transportation in the capital city will run till 2 a.m. to help people get home after taking part in the midnight event.
City officials added that to accommodate people wanting to see the bell-ringing ceremony, roads around Bosingak will be closed from 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., with all buses transiting the area required to make detours during that time.
“People are advised to use public transportation to avoid congestion,” the police said.
The bell-ring ceremony has its roots in the practice of the Bosingak bell being rung 33 times at around 4 a.m. to signal the end of the night curfew and start of the new day. The bells sounded the opening of the Seoul’s main gates to traffic after they were closed for the night.