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Seoul city approves Shilla's plan for hanok hotel

All Headlines 12:08 March 03, 2016

SEOUL, March 3 (Yonhap) -- The city of Seoul approved a plan by Hotel Shilla to build a traditional-style accommodation in central Seoul after rejecting previous attempts, officials said Thursday.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government reached an understanding on Wednesday to endorse the plan to erect a hotel built in the hanok-style within the compound of the luxury hotel's vast grounds in Jangchung-dong. Hotel Shilla is an affiliate of South Korea's biggest conglomerate Samsung Group. Hanok refers to traditional Korean tiled houses.

There has long been controversy over whether the hotel's move would hurt the natural scenery or help vitalize the country's tourism industry.

The Seoul government rejected or held off Hotel Shilla's four previous attempts in 2012, 2013, 2015 and earlier this year.

The finalized plan is to build a three-story structure with three basement levels and a total of 91 rooms. The company previously proposed a four-story building with four basement levels and 207 rooms.

The distance from the fortress wall of Hanyang, the old name of Seoul, also increased from 20.5 meters, as suggested in 2013, to 29.9 meters.

The city government said since it put the company's latest proposal in January on hold, Hotel Shilla re-worked its plan by providing pedestrian roads leading up to the fortress wall and protecting the nearby area's landscape.

Lee Je-won, an official at the metropolitan government said the first traditional hanok-style hotel in the center of the city will provide a unique and different tourism experience for visitors.

"It will contribute to strengthening Seoul's competitiveness as a global tourist city and play a positive role in designating the fortress wall a UNESCO World Heritage Site by improving the nearby environment," he said.

"We will combine the beauty of hanok with the convenience of contemporary architecture," a Hotel Shilla official said, adding they are not yet at a stage to talk about the price range of the facility.

The company is expected to invest some 300 billion won (US$246 million) into the hanok hotel project. It is expected to open in the early 2020s.

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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