S. Korea Blue House opens to public for first time in 74 years | Lifestyle

SEOUL — For quite a few South Koreans, the former presidential palace in Seoul was a very little-visited, intensely secured mountainside landmark. That’s now modified as hundreds have been authorized a seem inside of for the first time in 74 decades.

As just one of his very first functions, the new South Korean chief has moved the presidential workplaces from the Blue Home, named following its distinct blue roof tiles, and opened its gates to the community, permitting a utmost of 39,000 men and women a day to visit.

The typically really serious compound has been reworked into some thing like a reasonable, with energized crowds seeking close to and standing in extensive queues.

“I experience grateful that the Blue Residence has opened to the community,” 61-calendar year-previous business office worker Lee Sang Woon reported not long ago all through a tour with his household. “I am really satisfied to be listed here.”

The Blue House has absent by way of multiple transformations more than the many years. After the web page of a royal backyard, the Japanese built the official home for their governors-typical there throughout Tokyo’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. Following Korea was liberated from Japan in 1945, the U.S. military services commander occupied the place right until it grew to become South Korea’s official presidential business and home upon the country’s basis in 1948.

The Blue Home opening is portion of new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s pledge to abandon the palace and build his offices at the Defense Ministry compound in the Yongsan district, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) absent.

Yoon claimed he selected the Protection Ministry compound due to the fact it’s already equipped with safety-associated command amenities. He reported he aims to develop anything comparable to the White Home in Washington that would enable citizens have a nearer seem at the creating above a fence. Yoon mentioned the new places of work will enable for far better interaction with the public.

His relocation options, nevertheless, have confronted grievances that they have been rushed and unrealistic. Critics say a hasty motion of major government offices could undermine nationwide safety by concentrating far too considerably electric power in a single place, expense far too substantially and violate the assets rights of men and women living in the region.

His predecessor, Moon Jae-in, also expressed concerns that Yoon designed his choice just before hearing adequate community viewpoint.

When Moon took business office in 2017, he also pledged to go out in a bid to length himself from his disgraced, jailed predecessor, Park Geun-hye, who grew up there as the daughter of a dictator. Moon ultimately deserted his system, and Park was pardoned late final yr.

Yoon, even so, began his initially working day earlier this month as president in Yongsan, and the ex-presidential place of work was opened to the public that exact working day.

Choi Jun Chae, 60, who runs a mill at a classic market place near the Blue Home, was sorry to see the presidential office environment go away his community but also hopeful that the relocation would boost community organizations by bringing in a lot more travellers.

“Under the (former President) Lee Myung-bak administration, there were being plenty of protests … so it was really really hard to commute to this region. Vehicles couldn’t transfer, so I experienced to walk,” Choi mentioned.

Thousands of individuals have gathered in close proximity to the Blue House in the past for mass rallies and marches. Nearby residents reported they experienced from sound and website traffic congestion.

“I hope that protests lessen and a lot more men and women visit the place,” Yoo Sung-jong, head of a well-known bakery in the community, mentioned. “But (the president) was here for a long time, so it is a little bit unhappy far too.”

Even though some persons in the new presidential community anticipate an improvement simply because of the new places of work, there are also problems.

“As for targeted visitors issues, I can now see a lot more men and women going to in this article. It will be really crowded and complex at first, but I assume it will step by step get much better,” mentioned Kim Jung-taek, a gallery proprietor close to the new presidential workplaces.