Yoon aims to open S.Korean presidential office to public ‘before spring flowers wither’

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South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol aims to open Cheong Wa Dae, or the presidential office, to the public “before spring flowers wither”, his spokesperson said Friday.

Kim Eun-hye, the spokesperson, made the remarks as Yoon and his transition team is considering relocating the presidential office to either the Foreign Ministry building in Gwanghwamun or the Defence Ministry compound in Yongsan, reports Yonhap News Agency.

“We will return Cheong Wa Dae to the people before spring flowers wither,” Kim told reporters.

Yoon pledged during the 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 Defence Ministry compound in Yongsan has recently emerged as an alternative because of its advantages in terms of security and other issues.

Yoon’s transition committee will determine the final location after the on-site inspection, Kim said.

“There should be a consensus on this because it was the most important pledge of President-elect Yoon,” she said. “After today’s inspection, we will go through the process of collecting various opinions and holding debates and discussions.”

Critics have viewed Cheong Wa Dae as a symbol of an “imperial” presidency and as a cause of making the President be out of touch with the public due to its location on a secluded compound on the foothills of a mountain just north of Gwanghwamun.

“What we’re going to do is get out of Cheong Wa Dae, which has been a symbol of absolute power in Korean history,” Kim said.

“We will be returning the power to the people.”

Media reports said relocating the presidential office may cost as much as 1 trillion won ($827.9 million).

However, Kim said such an estimate is “excessive”, adding the transition team will not waste taxpayers’ money.

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