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(2nd LD) Moon instructs Cabinet to approve funds for presidential office relocation

All News 15:07 April 05, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with details of move from 5th para)
By Lee Haye-ah

SEOUL, April 5 (Yonhap) -- The Cabinet will hold an extraordinary session Wednesday to approve the reserve government funds for President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's plan to relocate the presidential office, as President Moon Jae-in ordered swift approval of the spending, an official said.

"President Moon Jae-in was briefed this morning on the results of the government's review of the reserve funds for the presidential office's relocation and ordered that an extraordinary Cabinet session be held as soon as possible to swiftly approve the funds," presidential spokesperson Park Kyung-mee said.

This file photo from March 22, 2022, shows the defense ministry compound in Yongsan, central Seoul. (Yonhap)

This file photo from March 22, 2022, shows the defense ministry compound in Yongsan, central Seoul. (Yonhap)

Yoon has been pushing to move the presidential office out of Cheong Wa Dae and into the defense ministry compound in Yongsan, central Seoul, before his May 10 inauguration, saying the relocation would help him connect better with people.

In order for the project to move forward, the outgoing administration of President Moon Jae-in needs to approve the necessary budget. Moon's office had initially expressed concern that a hurried relocation could leave a security vacuum, but Moon later said he would cooperate after carefully examining the project.

A presidential official said concerns about a possible security vacuum can be addressed while executing the initial budget.

The official also said Moon's instruction to the Cabinet reflected his commitment to cooperating with the incoming government, which he stated during his dinner meeting with Yoon last week.

Yoon has said the relocation is expected to cost 49.6 billion won (US$40.8 million), including 11.8 billion won for moving the defense ministry to the Joint Chiefs of Staff building in the same compound, 25.2 billion won for remodeling the defense ministry building into the presidential office, 9.9 billion won for moving the office of the presidential security service and 2.5 billion won for remodeling the official residence of the Army chief of staff into the presidential residence.

Officials said the initial budget to be approved by the Cabinet is expected to be less, at around 36 billion won, but still include the cost of moving the defense ministry out of its current building and remodeling the residence.

The plan is to relocate the ministry in stages, with those departments involved in upcoming South Korea-U.S. military exercises moving out later.

The remainder of the 49.6 billion won budget could be approved before the end of Moon's term.

"We'll discuss that over time," a presidential official said.

Yoon has vowed never to move into Cheong Wa Dae, calling it a "symbol of imperial power."

If the relocation is not completed by his inauguration, Yoon's office has said he will continue to work from the transition team's office.

hague@yna.co.kr
(END)

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