South Korean president-elect says to move future office beyond Blue House: media
Updated 14:02, 20-Mar-2022
South Korea's presidential office Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, March 16, 2022. /CFP

South Korea's presidential office Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, March 16, 2022. /CFP

South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol announced on Sunday that he will be moving his office from the Blue House to the defense ministry compound, the Yonhap news agency reported.

Yoon, who won a tight March 9 election, said at a press conference that he will move into the compound in Seoul's central district of Yongsan immediately after his inauguration on May 10, according to the report.

The Blue House, or Cheong Wa Dae, will be fully opened to the public on the same day, he said.

Yoon added that his residence will move from Cheong Wa Dae to one of the official residences in Hannam-dong, close to the defense ministry.

Yoon had promised during the presidential campaign that he would make the relocation. His team said the move would improve public access as well as communications with aides, and noted that the Blue House executive mansion had become a "royal palace," isolated and enclosed by forests and tight security.

Some Democratic Party officials have accused Yoon of being influenced by masters of feng shui, a form of geomancy, who have said the Blue House was inauspicious.

The Democrats alleged in the run-up to the election that a shaman was closely involved in Yoon's campaign. Yoon has denied any influence, saying only that he knew the man as a Buddhist priest.

Jee Jong-hag, head of a major local feng shui society, said the Blue House is badly located, which could explain why dozens of ancient kings worked and lived elsewhere. More recently, four out of the six presidents in the country's 25-year democratic history have been imprisoned or committed suicide after leaving office.

"I do see the link between the site and the ill-fated presidents," Jee told Reuters. "But Yongsan is a blessed spot, open and surrounded by gentle mountains. It's an incomparably humble yet auspicious piece of land compared to the Blue House location."

Some Democrats have called the planned move a waste of resources that could cost up to 1 trillion won ($822.7 million).

Yoon's spokeswoman dismissed that projection as having "gone too far," and said the team would make a decision based on public consensus but without wasting taxpayers' money.

The Yonhap news agency reported that the interior ministry estimated the cost of moving into the defense ministry at around 50 billion won ($41.14 million).

Only a limited part of the Blue House is open to the public, and any vehicle passing the area is subject to security checks.

Last remodeled in the 1970s, the main presidential office inside the compound is far from where secretaries work, which some officials have said hampers interaction.

Outgoing President Moon Jae-in had also said he would find a new office, but abandoned the plan for security and logistical reasons.

(With input from Reuters)

(Cover: South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol speaks during a news conference at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, March 10, 2022. /CFP)

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