Throughout today, police will have 200 companies of riot policemen totaling around 20,000 standing by in central Seoul to maintain security. Some 360 traffic policemen will man major intersections in the vicinity. Bongha Village and the Gyeonggi area will also have a massive police presence. Police will block Gwanghwamun from noon until 2 p.m. and have advised citizens to take public transportation.
The US Embassy is closed today out of respect for the funeral, and has also advised citizens to keep their wits about them. An excerpt:
The U.S. Embassy will be closed for all routine services on Friday, May 29, 2009, due to the funeral services for former Korean President Roh Moo Hyun at nearby Gyeongbok Palace and the City Hall area. We expect extremely large crowds, severe traffic congestion and possible disruptions, and a sizable police presence in the immediate vicinity of the Embassy. Embassy staff will be available for emergency consular services only.
The Embassy has no indication that the crowds assembling for the Presidential funeral services will pose any threat to Americans. Nonetheless, we always recommend as a matter of prudence that Americans exercise proper caution if within the vicinity of any large crowds. American citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. The Embassy will continue to keep the American community informed of any changes in the overall security situation.
The Herald gives an overview of what to expect from the funeral itself:
The official funeral will start as the funeral cortege carrying Roh's coffin enters the front yard of the ancient palace.
President Lee Myung-bak is expected to attend, as are other former presidents, several ministers, lawmakers and foreign delegates, plus Roh's family and close aides.
Lee Dal-gon, minister of public administration and security, will offer a brief personal history of Roh, followed by funeral speeches by current Prime Minister Han Seung-soo and former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook.
A video showing images of Roh, such as his inaugural oath in 2003 will be screened.
Starting with President Lee, Roh's bereaved family members and other guests will offer white chrysanthemums before Roh's portrait to pay farewell.
The official funeral service will end with a volley of firings.
A limousine carrying Roh's coffin will then move to Seoul Plaza in front of the city hall for a mourning event, which will start at 1 p.m.
After the service, Roh's body will be cremated at a crematorium in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on the way back to his hometown village.
His ashes will be placed at a small temple where the memorial tablets of his late parents are enshrined for 49 days, before being buried on a hill near his residence.
And the Donga Ilbo tells us "Roh’s Funeral Committee to Be Largest in Korean History," double that of Park Chung-hee's in 1979. Those of you in Seoul, please pass along any on-the-ground reports you have.