Controversy over the relocation of the presidential office has been reignited yet again, following revelations that 87.8 billion won ($63 million) has been requested for the construction of a new building to replace Yeongbingwan.
Yeongbingwan, the former state reception hall located at Cheong Wa Dae, which was previously the presidential office and residence, has been closed following President Yoon Suk-yeol's decision to relocate.
In March, then-President-elect Yoon said it would cost 49.6 billion won in total to relocate the presidential office, but this new budget request pushes the total far in excess of that number.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance should typically conduct a preliminary study to verify the feasibility for a national project with a budget of more than 50 billion won, but this plan was exempted from that duty.
This is not the first time that the budget for the relocation had been enlarged. SBS reported on Aug. 31 that at least 30 billion won had already been spent beyond the initial plan due to costs associated with relocating and maintaining the Defense Ministry, relocating the presidential office and remodeling the presidential residence.
"We proposed the need to establish subsidiary facilities to the National Assembly, and the final decision on the budget will be made by the National Assembly. If the budget is finalized, we will disclose related costs transparently to the public," the presidential office said.
Regarding criticism that the cost of relocating the presidential office has continued to increase, the office has countered that the budget for construction of subsidiary facilities should not be considered as the part of the relocation costs.