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Presidential retreat for vacation

Posted June. 24, 2017 07:12,   

Updated June. 24, 2017 07:18


Former President Roh Moo-hyun had an overnight stay at Cheongnamdae, a presidential retreat in Chungju, North Chungcheong Province, on April 17, 2003. It was the day before he returned the villa, which was constructed in 1983 by former President Chun Doo-hwan, to the public as he had pledged during his presidential campaign. It was a commemorational event before the returning ceremony of the villa next day. Since then, Roh stayed at Jeodo Island in Geoje, South Gyeongsang Province, Yooseong Hotel in South Chungcheong Province or Seogwipo Hotel in Jeju Island during his summer vacation. With more difficulties in guarding a president, however, the Presidential Office in part blamed Roh’s decision on returning Cheongnamdae to the public.

Former President Kim Young-sam demolished the safe house in Gungjeong-dong in front of the Presidential Office with a forklift in March 1993 soon after his inauguration. The house was where former President Park Chung-hee was assassinated over a meal by his intelligence chief Kim Jae-gyu on October 26, 1979. After visits to safe houses in Gungjeong-dong, Cheongun-dong and Samcheong-dong near the Presidential Office, President Kim instructed to demolish these houses, saying, “These places are where people were entertained by women.” The public welcomed his decision to create the Mugunghwa-dongsan Park on the land where meetings with politicians took place behind closed doors.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama used to rent and stay more than two weeks at luxurious villas in Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts in summer and Hawaii in winter. Former President George W. Bush had 149 visits over 487 days to Camp David, a presidential retreat in Maryland. President Donald Trump has called his Mar-a-Lago, the Florida resort as the “Winter White House.” Every president needs a place to rest away from work.

The Presidential Office has been discussing returning Jeodo Island, the last presidential retreat, to the public with the Navy. Jeodo Island was designated as a presidential retreat by Park Jung-hee who also named the island as Cheonghadae, a presidential office on sea. Former President Park Geun-hye had an overnight stay in the first summer after she became the president and recollected her memories from childhood with her father. The writer is not sure about Moon’s perspective on returning a presidential retreat to the public after he once said that he was renting the Presidential Office for five years. It is a time to change the thinking that a private villa for vacation is a luxury item.