The president’s summer retreat

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The president’s summer retreat

The author is a national team reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Camp David has been the retreat for the president of the United States since 1942. According to the Washington Post, it is the most visited summer retreat by U.S. presidents. In America, many presidents spend their summer vacations at private villas or luxury resorts. President George W. Bush spent his summer vacation on his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and President Barack Obama rented a luxury mansion on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Past Korean presidents generally spent vacations at one of the several presidential retreats located across the country. After first President Syngman Rhee first visited Jeo Island off the northern tip of Geoje Island, South Gyeongsang, for vacation, Park Chung Hee officially made it a presidential retreat in 1972. It was named “Cheonghaedae,” meaning the Blue House at sea. Former President Park Geun-hye spent her first summer vacation there in 2013. In 1983, under the direction of President Chun Doo Hwan, “Cheongnamdae” was built near the Daecheong Lake, North Chungcheong. It was first called “Yeongchunjae,” meaning a “house welcoming guests like spring,” and was changed to Cheongnamdae — “the Blue House in the south” — in 1986.

As President Kim Young-sam liked to visit Cheongnamdae, he sometimes came up with a “Cheongnamdae plan.” Major policy announcements such as the real-name financial transaction system were made after he spent his summer vacation there. There was a reason why the president had to go there often. Shortly after taking office, Kim lifted all designations of presidential summer retreats except Cheongnamdae to eradicate the legacy of authoritarianism. Cheongnamdae was opened to the public in 2003 during the Roh Moo-hyun administration.

Jeo Island was redesignated as a presidential retreat by Lee Myung-bak in 2008. It is the only remaining presidential retreat. Along with Jeo Island, military retreat facilities also are preferred as a presidential retreat for ease of security and a good communication system.

Current President Yoon Suk-yeol took a five-day summer vacation from Monday through Friday last week. But he canceled a plan to go to other regions and is staying at his private residence in Seocho-dong, Seoul. Since taking office in May, the president has been largely indifferent to public opinion. As a result, his approval rating percentage plunged into the 20s after less than three months. He could not relax completely during his first vacation. People are paying keen attention to the policy he will present after returning to office today. The rating will go up if he changes. Whether it is Jeo Island or Jeju Island, I want to see the president enjoying his summer vacation next year.
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