S. Korea Blue House opens to public for 1st time in 74 years | Home + Life + Health

SEOUL (AP) — For many South Koreans, the previous presidential palace in Seoul was a little-visited, closely secured mountainside landmark. That’s now modified as hundreds have been allowed a glance inside for the primary time in 74 years.

As certainly one of his first acts, the new South Korean chief has moved the presidential places of work from the Blue House, named after its distinctive blue roof tiles, and opened its gates to the general public, permitting a most of 39,000 individuals a day to go to.

The usually critical compound has been reworked into one thing like a good, with excited crowds wanting round and standing in lengthy queues.

“I feel grateful that the Blue House has opened to the public,” 61-year-old office worker Lee Sang Woon said recently during a tour with his family. “I am really happy to be here.”

The Blue House has gone by means of a number of transformations through the years. Once the positioning of a royal backyard, the Japanese constructed the official residence for his or her governors-general there throughout Tokyo’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. After Korea was liberated from Japan in 1945, the U.S. navy commander occupied the place till it grew to become South Korea’s official presidential workplace and residence upon the nation’s basis in 1948.

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The Blue House opening is a part of new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s pledge to desert the palace and set up his places of work on the Defense Ministry compound within the Yongsan district, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) away.

Yoon mentioned he selected the Defense Ministry compound as a result of it’s already geared up with security-related command services. He mentioned he goals to construct one thing much like the White House in Washington that will let residents have a better have a look at the constructing over a fence. Yoon mentioned the brand new places of work will permit for higher communication with the general public.

His relocation plans, nevertheless, have confronted complaints that they had been rushed and unrealistic. Critics say a hasty motion of prime authorities places of work may undermine nationwide safety by concentrating an excessive amount of energy in a single place, price an excessive amount of and violate the property rights of individuals dwelling within the space.

His predecessor, Moon Jae-in, additionally expressed worries that Yoon made his determination earlier than listening to sufficient public opinion.

When Moon took workplace in 2017, he additionally pledged to maneuver out in a bid to distance himself from his disgraced, jailed predecessor, Park Geun-hye, who grew up there because the daughter of a dictator. Moon ultimately deserted his plan, and Park was pardoned late final yr.

Yoon, nevertheless, began his first day earlier this month as president in Yongsan, and the ex-presidential workplace was opened to the general public that very same day.

Choi Jun Chae, 60, who runs a mill at a conventional market close to the Blue House, was sorry to see the presidential workplace depart his neighborhood but in addition hopeful that the relocation would increase native companies by bringing in additional vacationers.

“Under the (former President) Lee Myung-bak administration, there were lots of protests … so it was really hard to commute to this area. Cars couldn’t move, so I had to walk,” Choi mentioned.

Thousands of individuals have gathered close to the Blue House prior to now for mass rallies and marches. Nearby residents mentioned they suffered from noise and visitors congestion.

“I hope that protests decrease and more people visit the area,” Yoo Sung-jong, head of a preferred bakery within the neighborhood, mentioned. “But (the president) was here for a long time, so it is a bit sad too.”

While some individuals within the new presidential neighborhood count on an enchancment due to the brand new places of work, there are additionally worries.

“As for visitors points, I can already see extra individuals visiting right here. It might be very crowded and complex at first, however I believe it’s going to regularly get higher,” said Kim Jung-taek, a gallery owner near the new presidential offices.

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