Seoul city hosts first mass debate by 3,000 citizens on air pollution

By Park Sae-jin Posted : May 18, 2017, 11:07 Updated : May 18, 2017, 11:16

Baseball fans wear masks to filter particulate pollution during a baseball match. [Yonhap Photo]

South Korea's largest-ever open debate involving about 3,000 citizens will take place on a symbolic plaza at the heart of Seoul this month over how to reduce air pollution by controlling the traffic of vehicles.

The debate on May 27 will be held at the Gwanghwamun Square, the site for a wave of candle-lit rallies demanding the ouster of South Korea's impeached ex-president Park Geun-hye. Participants in the open debate will be given pollution-filtering masks.

The Seoul Metropolitan government is pushing for a system to restrict the movement of old diesel-fueled vehicles into the city center. Due to complaints about inconveniences, city officials have decided to hold public discussions.

City officials are conducting an online survey of citizens on how to reduce particulate pollution. The selectable answers included one: "Restricting access to vehicles into the city center area by grading cars with a new environmental-friendly standard." 

The same question has been asked by environment activists. Many other groups representing scientists, the parents of schoolchildren, youngsters and others showed great interest in the open debate.

Public concerns have been growing about particulate pollution. While China has been cited as the main culprit for aggravating particulate pollution on the Korean peninsula, experts also point to power plants and vehicles using fossil fuel.

In an effort to reduce fine dust emissions, President Moon Jae-in has ordered a temporary shutdown of eight coal-fueled thermal power plants, aged 30 years or older, for 30 days starting June 1.

Park Sae-jin =
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