The Korea Herald


Construction plan for new state guest house discarded

By Im Eun-byel

Published : Sept. 18, 2022 - 15:17

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This photo shows a performance held in front of Yeongbingwan at Cheong Wa Dae on Sept. 9. (Cultural Heritage Administration) This photo shows a performance held in front of Yeongbingwan at Cheong Wa Dae on Sept. 9. (Cultural Heritage Administration)

President Yoon Suk-yeol has called off a plan to construct a new state guest house to replace Yeongbingwan, the former reception hall at Cheong Wa Dae, following criticism that the construction would be a waste of taxpayers' money.

Previously at Cheong Wa Dae, the presidential office and residence, Yeongbingwan functioned as a venue for the president to greet and serve guests. It has been closed following Yoon's decision to relocate to Yongsan-gu, central Seoul, as he took office earlier this year.

Though the presidential office submitted a plan to build a new state guest house to replace the venue, which would involve an 87.8 billion won ($63 million) budget, to the National Assembly, Yoon withdrew the plan Friday.

“The president said the new construction was to prepare a venue for events that meet the standard of state dignity as a future asset for the nation, not that of the presidential office following the return of Cheong Wa Dae for the people,” Kim Eun-hye, senior presidential secretary for public affairs, said, quoting Yoon.

“However, it is regretful that (the office) did not give enough explanation on the purpose (of the construction for a new building),” the spokesperson said, adding Yoon ordered an immediate cancellation of the project.

The new construction plan drew controversy, with the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea denouncing the plan as a waste of taxpayers’ money. The party, which had opposed Yoon's relocation scheme to Yongsan, slammed the administration for wasting money from the budget.

It also claimed the plan was first lady Kim Keon-hee’s idea. The ruling People Power Party refuted the allegation, calling it a "collective delusion" by the main opposition party.

The relocation of the presidential office, a project pushed by Yoon himself, has caused controversy over its finances.

Though the presidential transition committee initially announced it would cost 49.6 billion won in total to relocate the presidential office, it was reported that spending had already overrun by at least 30 billion won.

With the plan scrapped, Yoon will use the reception room at the presidential office or the War Memorial of Korea to meet with guests for now.

By Im Eun-byel (