Defense ministry to vacate building by April 10 for relocation of presidential office

SEOUL-- President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's transition team aims to complete the relocation of the defense ministry by April 10 in line with his plan to move the presidential office to a building currently used by the ministry, an aide to Yoon said Monday.

Yoon on Sunday announced a plan to relocate the presidential office from Cheong Wa Dae to the defense ministry compound in Yongsan, central Seoul, in time for his inauguration scheduled for May 10.

The transition team initially planned to have the ministry vacate the 10-story building by the end of this month. But the target date was pushed back to April 10 at the request of the ministry, the aide said.

"There was a request from the defense ministry that it needs at least 20 days for its relocation," the official said. The two sides are fine-tuning the detailed schedule, he added.

The ministry plans to move into a nearby building used by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

"Remodeling will start as soon as the relocation of the defense ministry is completed, and there will be no problem with the schedule for the presidential office's move into the building by May 10," he said.

The transition team expects the ministry will be able to begin work to move out as soon as the government approves the spending plan for the relocation of the presidential office during Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.

Spanning about 276,000 square meters, the defense ministry compound also houses the JCS headquarters, the Cyber Operations Command, the Central Investigation Command, the Defense Installations Agency, the military court and prosecution and other installations.

Citing the finance ministry's estimate, the president-elect said Sunday the relocation would cost about 49.6 billion won (US$40.8 million), including 11.8 billion won for moving the ministry, 25.2 billion won for remodeling and 9.9 billion won for moving the office of the presidential security service.

Yoon said the defense ministry will share space with the JCS for the time being but it is desirable for the JCS to eventually relocate to the Capital Defense Command (CDC) in Namtaeryeong, southern Seoul.

If the JCS moves there, the construction cost for its new building will be around 120 billion won, Yoon's spokesperson Kim Eun-hye told reporters Monday.

Source: Yonhap News Agency