Ewha Swimming Pool, which was the very first swimming pool introduced by a Korean university in 1978, has been closed since Feb. 28 by the school. The lack of reasoning left many students enraged and confused. In response, reasons for the closure and three alternative plans were introduced at the briefing session held on April 30 by the Office of Facilities Management.
The first reason for the closure was the deterioration of facilities, such as rusted boilers and water tanks. According to the safety diagnosis completed by Korea Energy Agency in Oct. 2018, the Ewha Swimming Pool was diagnosed “unfit” in terms of safety.
“The steam boiler has been on use for more than 15 years since November 2003, and the facilities need an overall renovation,” commented Lee Hee-jin, Team Leader of the Office of Facilities Management Safety Team.
Labor policy of 52 working hour per week enforced by Ministry of Employment and Labor also influenced the closure. In order for the swimming pool to run smoothly, boilers must be turned on at least two hours before use and turned off two to three times starting from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.. There were previously only two workers assigned for this task, and the school concluded that it would be difficult to run the swimming pool under such limitations on working hours.
Deterioration of the Alumnae Building and water leakage issues were also big factors that influenced the school’s decision. According to the inspection results of Je-il Structure Safety Technology Co. LTD in 2015, Ewha Swimming Pool received grade “C,” which means the pool requires a renovation to continue normal operation.
“In 2017, there was an emergency repair regarding water leakage, which was discovered to be the problem of the swimming pool itself,” said Nam Seok-jin, the Team Head and General Manager of Construction at Office of Facilities Management. “Fixing the issue perfectly seems challenging technology-wise.”
To cope with the issues mentioned above, the Office of Facilities Management listed three possible plans from A to C for the future.
Plan A, the short-term plan, stated conducting essential repairs and re-opening the swimming pool in the shortest time possible.
“Although students and faculty members would benefit as early as possible with Plan A, issues regarding repairing the pool will soon resurface,” Lee said Lee Jun-yub.
Plan B included accepting people from outside of school to use the swimming pool, which would increase the usage fee, and receiving investment from outside the university.
“This could help the school to fix the overall problems of the pool and continue using it in the Alumnae Building. However, due to the tax law, the school finds it hard monetizing the pool,” Lee added.
The last option, the long-term plan, delivered a complete removal of the pool, considering that the Alumnae Building was not designed for a swimming pool in the first place. The school further suggested the possibility of installing a new swimming pool in a different building, possibly combining it with ECC Fitness Center.
In the following Q&A session, there was sharp criticism regarding the school’s limitation on student participation in terms of choosing among the three options and the briefing session starting before the end of the official lecture period in Ewha. Remarks from the officials stressing that Seoul National University, Yonsei University and Ewha are the only universities that own a pool left many students convinced the school is leaning towards Plan C, which indicates the removal of the pool the Alumnae Building. Especially the school’s act of presenting blueprints for only Plan C made many students believe that the school is rooting for Plan C, which does not promise the earliest access to the pool for students and faculty members of Ewha.
“I was very disappointed to find out about the closure of the swimming pool at the beginning of the semester,” said Nam Da-won, a freshman majoring in English Education. “However, I also see that the swimming pool requires a systematic renovation, and that takes time. I am looking forward to seeing the swimming pool renovation happen very soon, whichever solution the school may choose.”