SEOUL, Dec. 24 (Yonhap) -- All sunset and sunrise events will be banned at national parks across the country until early next month, the Ministry of Environment said Thursday, in accordance with the government's special anti-COVID-19 measures.
The ban will be in effect from Thursday to Jan. 3, the ministry said, noting violators will be fined over 100,000 won (US$90).
In previous years, local governments organized sunset and sunrise events at national parks in time for the end and beginning of the year and eased access restrictions to mountain national parks by advancing their opening hours from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m.
During the ban, however, people are not allowed to enter mountain national parks before 7 a.m. every day. From Dec. 31 to Jan. 3, in particular, all parking lots at national parks will be closed and their trails will be closed beginning at 3 p.m., the ministry said.
First-time offenders will be fined 100,000 won, and the penalties will increase to 300,000 won for second-time offenders and 500,000 won for third-time offenders, it explained.
National park authorities will also strengthen monitoring of all visitors in the coming days to ensure they thoroughly comply with antivirus measures, including wearing facial masks, within all places of national parks.
Traditionally, Koreans have attached enormous significance to viewing the year's first sunrise and last sunset to look back on the past year and wish for prosperity and happiness in the coming 12 months. Ideal sunrise spots are mostly located on mountains and the eastern coast.
Local governments, which are home to many popular sunset and sunrise locations nationwide, have already canceled their annual sunset and sunrise festivals and events to help stem the spread of COVID-19. Instead, many of them plan to offer live broadcasts of the sunset and sunrise at major mountains and beaches through YouTube.
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