SEOUL, Dec. 26 (Korea Bizwire) — The front lawn of the presidential office is expected to open to the public as early as April after the required budget passed through parliament last week, officials said Monday.
The land surrounding the presidential office was previously used as a U.S. military base and is currently in the process of being transformed into a large public park, or Yongsan Park, following its return to the South Korean government.
According to the presidential office and the land ministry, the government earmarked 27.7 billion won (US$21.7 million) in next year’s budget to complete the construction of the park, and the National Assembly passed it without revision last week.
“Once the doors of Yongsan Park open, it will come to symbolize the Yongsan era together with Cheong Wa Dae,” a government official told Yonhap News Agency.
President Yoon Suk Yeol began his term in May at the new presidential office in Yongsan, central Seoul, after relocating the office from Cheong Wa Dae to what used to be the defense ministry compound in line with a campaign pledge.
In moving the presidential office, Yoon sought to connect better with the people and open Cheong Wa Dae to the public.
During a press conference in March where he announced the relocation, Yoon said he planned to allow the general public to get close to the new presidential office and permit weddings on the front lawn.
The new park is expected to feature sports facilities, playgrounds and cafes, and give the public a view of the president’s offices on the second and fifth floors of the presidential office building.
The presidential office and the land ministry are also working to ensure the returned land poses no health risks, with plans to take additional safety measures, such as paving or planting grass, if necessary.