Space for cultural events eyed for Cheong Wa Dae after public opening

SEOUL-- Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea's presidential office surrounded by vast green areas in the heart of Seoul, will likely turn into a space for various cultural events as well as a public park under President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's incoming government, transition team officials said Thursday.

Yoon's transition committee is considering transforming Cheong Wa Dae into a space for K-pop and Korean traditional music performances and various other cultural events, the officials said.

Yoon has vowed to relocate the presidential office to Yongsan, central Seoul, and return the Cheong Wa Dae compound to citizens after his May 10 inauguration.

Cheong Wa Dae, situated at the foot of Mount Bukak behind the Gyeongbok Palace, the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), has been the venue of the presidential office and residence for the past 74 years after the South Korean government was established in 1948. The 250,000-square-meter (62 acres) compound is 3.4 times larger than the White House.

"Cheong Wa Dae will be completely opened to the public and refurbished after Yoon's inauguration," a transition team official said. "In particular, the space will be used for cultural events, such as joint performances of K-pop and Korean traditional music," the official said.

The transition committee plans to convert Cheong Wa Dae's open spaces into those for performances, exhibitions and people's physical activities, among others, according to the officials.

It also plans to develop various walking trails for the public in and around Cheong Wa Dae, while trying to keep its main buildings and facilities intact, they said.

The construction of a contemporary history hall where visitors can learn about the experiences of former presidents and a historical and cultural space with the theme of the Korean alphabet, hangeul, will be under consideration, they added.

The state-run Korea Culture & Tourism Institute has recently reported to the transition committee that the opening of Cheong Wa Dae to the public is expected to generate at least 200 billion won (US$165 million) in economic effects per year.

Source: Yonhap News Agency