SEOUL– President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol is considering building a new presidential residence in Seoul’s central district of Yongsan, officials said Thursday, as Yongsan’s defense ministry compound is talked about as a key candidate site to relocate the presidential office to.
Yoon pledged during the presidential campaign that if elected, he would set up his office in the Seoul government complex in Gwanghwamun and open the Cheong Wa Dae compound to the public.
The defense ministry compound has recently been mentioned as an alternative to the Gwanghwamun complex because of its advantages in terms of security and other issues.
“The option of building a new residence in Yongsan is being discussed in tandem,” an official on the task force handling Cheong Wa Dae’s relocation told Yonhap News Agency.
Under the scenario of the presidential office moving into the defense ministry compound, options for the president’s official residence included the current residences of the defense minister, foreign minister and the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of which are located nearby.
But some officials raised concern that the roads leading from the defense ministry to the nearby residences are too narrow, which could cause major traffic disruptions during the president’s commute to work.
If a new presidential residence is constructed in Yongsan, it would be located near a major park under construction and bring the president closer to the people in line with Yoon’s stated aim.
But one official noted that if the president works in the same space as the military, it could invite accusations of the new administration being a “military regime.”
The task force plans to report the relocation options to Yoon as early as later Thursday.
“The will of the president-elect will be very important in deciding the location of the office and residence,” a senior official on the transition team said.
Critics have viewed Cheong Wa Dae as a symbol of an “imperial” presidency due to its location on a secluded compound on the foothills of a mountain just north of Gwanghwamun.
Yoon’s predecessors, including President Moon Jae-in, made similar pledges to relocate the presidential office but withdrew them over logistical and security issues.
Source: Yonhap News Agency