How the presidential move will be done
On March 20, incoming President Yoon Suk-yeol personally announced the Ministry of National Defense compound in Yongsan as the site of his new presidential office in a press conference.
Yoon said Yongsan in central Seoul was chosen because no new security regulations would be needed in that neighborhood if the presidential office was moved there. The Defense Ministry is already equipped with underground bunkers, helipads and underway passages.
President Moon Jae-in initially voiced concern that there could be a “security vacuum” from an overly hasty relocation plan, but eventually endorsed the plan after a dinner with Yoon at the Blue House in early April.
The Moon government approved last month a total of 49.6 billion won ($40.8 million), as requested by Yoon, to fund the relocation.
The occupants of the current Defense Ministry main building, where the new presidential office will be located, have begun moving to other buildings, most to the adjacent Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) building. The JCS is expected to be eventually relocated to the Capital Defense Command compound in southern Seoul.
A temporary office for Yoon will be set up on the fifth floor of the Defense Ministry building. The second floor will be remodeled to become his permanent office. His five senior secretaries will occupy the third floor.
Yoon's other aides will be located on the sixth floor, while the Presidential Security Service will occupy the ninth floor. The press room will be on the first floor. The national crisis management center is located on basement floors.
A high wall around the compound will be replaced with a low fence, and a 500,000 square meter area immediately in front of the site will be transformed into a public park.
The foreign minister's official residence in Hannam-dong, near the Defense Ministry compound, will be remodeled into a new presidential residence.
Yoon will commute from his private residence in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul, for around a month while the renovation is under way. This is a 10-minute commute by car for a distance of around 7 to 8 kilometers.
Addressing security concerns over relocating the presidential office and moving the Defense Ministry, Shin Yul, a political science professor at Myongji University, said, “The military always holds a wartime readiness posture, and wartime means that mobility is a prerequisite. That’s why I don’t believe the relocation is a big concern in terms of security.”
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]