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Why does the President of South Korea want to move out of the Blue House?

On March 20, South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol said he would leave the Blue House and set up a presidential office at the new headquarters as part of efforts to better connect with the public.

The long history of the Blue House

Blue House or Cheong Wa Dae, Thanh Ngoai is the place where the President of Korea lives and works. This complex includes both the main residence of the President and his wife as well as the administrative offices of the president, advisers and other departments.

For decades, cabinet meetings, receptions, diplomatic events and decision-making important to South Korea have all taken place here. Therefore, the Blue House is not only the name of a specific place, but also a symbol of the President of Korea.

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The main building of the Blue House complex.

The site of the present-day Blue House in the Goryeo period (Goryeo 918-1392) was the site of the royal main hall. During the Joseon period (Joseon 1392-1910), this place was part of the garden of the Jingfu Palace (Gyeongbok). The palace was destroyed in the 16th century and rebuilt in the mid-19th century, changing its name to Jingwu Dai (Gyeongmudae), to express the desire to develop both literature and martial arts.

During the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula (1910-1945), Canh Vo Dai was remodeled into the Governor-General of Japan. After Korea gained independence, this place became the place where the President of Korea lived and worked. The complex was officially renamed Thanh Ngoai in 1960, and the main office building was completed in 1991.

Why does the President of Korea want to leave the Blue House?

Mr. Yoon’s plan to leave the Blue House received many mixed opinions from Korean public opinion. Critics say the hasty relocation of top government offices will undermine national security, fuel overspending and violate the rights of residents in the new office area.

Some have even suggested that the plan was devised because of a “feng shui” issue, which involves bad luck for many of Yoon’s predecessors, but the President-elect’s team denies this. .

“This is a difficult decision, but I do it for the future of the country. I sincerely hope people understand that this is not simply a relocation of the mansion but also my determination to serve the people, do the right thing and keep the promise to the people.” Mr. Yoon Suk-yeol said.

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Map of Cheongwadae and buildings in the complex.

Office relocation is one of the plans launched by the President-elect during the campaign. The former prosecutor said the current location and design of the Blue House has sparked criticism that South Korean leaders are aloof from the public, using excessive power.

On the Blue House campus, the offices of the presidential adviser and the press conference room are not located in the same building where the president works, but are several hundred meters apart. Some former officials said they occasionally used bicycles or cars to visit the president.

According to Yoon’s team, the Blue House complex (more than twice the size of the US White House complex) has become a “royal palace” too isolated from the public with tight security.

Previous administrations, including the administration of current President Moon Jae-In, have also pledged to move the presidential office. In a speech at the time, Mr. Moon said:

“I will be a president who is ready to communicate with people at any time. The President will directly inform the media on important issues. I will stop by the market after work so I can talk frankly with the people. Sometimes I will hold big debate events at Gwanghwamun Square.” But this plan has not materialized due to security and logistical problems.

Where will the South Korean president-elect move his office?

Yoon’s government transition team initially identified the Seoul government complex in Gwanghwamun as the location of the new presidential office, but amid security concerns, they moved the location to the complex. of the Ministry of National Defense in Yongsan District.

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Korean Ministry of National Defense Building. (Photo: Yonhap)

Mr. Yoon Suk-yeol said he will start his term in the new office. Meanwhile, Department of Defense officials will move to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) building along with the complex, while JCS personnel will gradually move to a combat command center near Seoul. .

Yoon said a large public park will be located near the new president’s office and ordinary people will be able to see his office up close. He also plans to set up a press center and meet with journalists regularly.

According to Yoon’s plan, the current Blue House will be open to the public on his inauguration day (expected to be May 10). He said he will collect comments from the people to choose a name for the new office.

The president-elect said the relocation would cost about 50 billion won ($41 million). Some critics had earlier said the plan would cost up to 1 trillion won ($825 million), an estimate Mr. Yoon called “unfounded.”

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