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(LEAD) Cultural facilities in Seoul to remain closed due to pandemic: ministry

All News 16:40 December 18, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with culture ministry's announcement in lead paras)

SEOUL, Dec. 18 (Yonhap) -- A group of major cultural facilities in Seoul will stay closed due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in the capital area, the culture ministry said Friday.

The ministry said it will extend the measure to suspend the operation of 24 national cultural facilities in Seoul, including museums, art museums, libraries and theaters, until further notice.

Those include the National Museum of Korea, the National Folk Museum of Korea, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Library of Korea and the National Theater of Korea.

They have been out of service since Dec. 8 as the country saw a spike in COVID-19 cases, especially concentrated in the greater Seoul area.

A sign shows that the National Palace Museum of Korea in central Seoul is closed due to the spread of the coronavirus in the capital area on Dec. 6, 2020. (Yonhap)

Major indoor heritage sites in the greater Seoul area, including the National Palace Museum of Korea in central Seoul, will also stay closed until further notice, the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) said earlier.

Following their previous suspension due to the pandemic, the indoor facilities were set to reopen Saturday, according to CHA.

The affected facilities include Seokjojeon and Jungmyeongjeon of Deoksu Palace and the Grand Greenhouse of Changgyeong Palace, both in central Seoul, as well as three Joseon-era royal tomb sites outside of Seoul.

CHA said, however, other outdoor heritage facilities, such as Gyeongbok, Changdeok and Deoksu Palaces in Seoul and open-air royal tomb sites from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) in the surrounding Gyeonggi Province will be open to visitors.

As part of efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, guided tour services will be suspended at those facilities, it added.

The reopening schedule of the indoor public facilities will be posted on their official websites once decisions are made, according to CHA.

On Friday, the country added 1,062 more COVID-19 cases, including 1,036 local infections, raising the total caseload to 47,515. Most of the new infection cases were from the greater Seoul area, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.


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