South Korea approves $29.5 million for presidential office relocation
Seoul, Apr 6 (EFE).- The South Korean government Wednesday approved nearly $30 million to relocate the presidential office in Seoul in a key step for the smooth transition of power to president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol.
The cabinet approved 36 billion won (about $29.5 million) from government reserve funds for the controversial relocation of the office that had triggered security concerns and sparked a debate that the symbolic decision would resources.
The budget was approved in a cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum a day after President Moon Jae-in ordered the quick approval of the relocation budget.
The president-elect had insisted that he would relocate the presidential office from the Blue House to the defense ministry in Seoul to abolish a “symbol of imperial power” and get closer to the people.
The Blue House was the residence and office of South Korean presidents for decades.
The move means that the departments and offices of the defense ministry will move to the building occupied by the Headquarters of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JSC) in the same complex.
The ministry and the army headquarters will now work in the same Headquarters.
The conservative Yoon, who defeated liberal Lee Jae-Myung by just 247,000 votes in the presidential elections on Mar.9, had vowed to start working from the new location from the day of his inauguration on May 10.
The incumbent administration had criticized the plan to relocate the office for its pressing deadlines, arguing that it could cause a logistical vacuum and hinder national security when North Korea is testing weapons at a record pace.
Yoon’s team has estimated that the relocation would cost around $33 million.
A survey has shown that 58 percent of South Koreans are against the relocation due to its expenses.
The outgoing-President Moon Jae-in had also proposed to relocate but ruled it out later on cost grounds.
Many residents of the Yongsan district, housing the defense ministry, spoke out against the move on Wednesday.
They said the relocation of the office would worsen traffic and pollution in the area and complicate the approval of the plan to create a park of more than 240 hectares housing the Yongsan US military cantonment. EFE