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President-elect Yoon declares to relocate office to Yongsan

President-elect Yoon declares to relocate office to Yongsan

Posted March. 21, 2022 07:57,   

Updated March. 21, 2022 07:57


South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol on Sunday made an official declaration to open a new presidential office in Yongsan, central Seoul. In the meantime, Cheong Wa Dae, the current presidential office at the center of the nation’s supreme power, will fade away in the mists of history in 70 years but transform into a completely public park upon the forthcoming president’s inauguration.

Yoon briefed press members for around 50 minutes on his plan to relocate the current presidential office to the main Defense Ministry building in the Yongsan area on Sunday. Holding a presentation pointer in front of the bird's-eye drawing, he described the relocation plan as a hard decision but a mission to accomplish for a better future of the nation. He will move in to get his job started right after his inauguration ceremony in May 10, according to the briefing.

As for what brought him to decide to move in to the Defense Ministry compound, the president-elect explained, “The compound for the Defense Ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff is already equipped with national security control systems, making it easy to give a complete site of Cheong Wa Dae back to the public. Also, this new site may not cause public inconveniences regarding presidential security services.” Yoon went on to say, “It is said that where you stay determines how you work. It is a more significant job as President to serve citizens than to safeguard presidential authority,’” adding that he will make sure to strengthen interactions with the public. He also stated that a new presidential office will be named based on public opinions. The presidential transition committee estimated relocation cost at 49.6 billion won.

Regarding his withdrawal from the original relocation plan to the Gwanghwamun area, he said, “We have found that citizens around the Gwanghwamun area will see serious conveniences even in case of a minimum level of presidential security measures in place,” adding, “After elected, I was briefed on what my original presidential pledge will bring about this area. I came to realize that it will be no different than a disaster for the public.”

If Yoon’s plan is executed as announced on Sunday, the current Cheong Wa Dae site will be completely open to the public 50 days later. Yoon promised, “The main building, Yeong Bin Gwan Hall and Nok Ji Won & Sang Chun Jae, dubbed the best garden ever, will return to citizens,” explaining that anyone can also have open access to climbing routes from Gyeongbok Palace through Cheong Wa Dae to Mt. Bugak. The presidential transition committee expected added value across the Gangbuk area to increase if redevelopment projects are allowed to start in the neighborhoods of the Cheong Wa Dae site, a current protected area with military facilities involved.

Jeong-Soo Hong hong@donga.com