Seoul, March 20 (IANS) South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol on Sunday announced a decision to move the presidential office from Cheong Wa Dae to what is now the Defence Ministry building several kilometres away, saying he wants his office to move out of a “symbol of imperial” and get closer to the people.
The decision is highly symbolic as Cheong Wa Dae has been used for decades as the presidential office and residence, though its secluded location and the way the President’s work office is located away from those of aides sparked criticism it causes the President to be out of touch with the public, reports Yonhap News Agency.
Yoon said he will move into the Defence Ministry compound in Seoul’s central district of Yongsan immediately after his inauguration on May 10.
On the same day, Cheong Wa Dae will be fully opened to the public, he said.
The Defence Ministry will move into the Joint Chiefs of Staff building in the compound, he said.
“It’s a difficult task, but it’s a decision I made for the future of the country,” he said during a press conference at his transition team’s headquarters.
“I ask the people to understand that this is not simply a relocation of space but my determination to properly serve them and work properly, as well as to fulfil my promise to them.”
Yoon promised during the campaign to relocate the presidential office to the Gwanghwamun government complex and “return” Cheong Wa Dae to the public.
The Gwanghwamun complex was however ruled out because officials said it could not be secured from outside threats, given that it is surrounded by other high-rise buildings, reducing the options to the adjacent annex used by the Foreign Ministry, and the Defence Ministry.