[EDITORIALS]Shrink the lust for grandeurSociety should change its authoritarian division of working space. The Roh Moo-hyun administration has decided to reduce the size of the president’s Blue House office. The presidential transition committee recently announced that the office will be reduced from the current 70 pyeong (2,492 square feet) to 20 pyeong. Major aides will be seated near the president’s office, as in the White House.
The symbolism goes beyond the actual redivision of space. In structure and arrangement, the main building of the Blue House was built on the concept of a king’s residence. The president cannot help but be isolated from his secretaries since his office is far from where they work. The office’s design emphasized the authority of the user over its functional efficiency. The distance from the door to the president’s desk in the White House Oval Office is about two or three meters (yards). The equivalent in the Blue House is 15 meters. People would be naturally daunted in walking to the president’s office.
President Roh’s new office plan is refreshing and positive. Democratization or status as a developed country requires not words but practice. Whether a space division is democratic or imperial, the consciousness of its occupant is formed. Mr. Roh’s initiative should spread to all corners of society. Ministers and the heads of provincial and city governments should reflect on whether they need the space they use. They should stop thinking that their authority is proportional to the size of their office. If they reflected that this space is paid for by the people’s taxes, they might not waste the money.
Bosses of some banks and state-run companies have overly luxurious offices. How can banks waste money on office space after receiving dozens of trillions of won (billions of dollars) in public funds? Global standards should be applied. In Europe we can find prime ministers in humble offices with squeaking chairs, CEOs in foreign companies sharing secretaries with subordinates in an office divided only by partitions while getting their own coffee from vending machines. When we introduce this kind of practical attitude, we will have a truly developed country.