Press TV, Seoul
South Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol moved his office closer to a US military base in central Seoul and opened a park in the area on a trial basis.
However, recent environmental assessments show that the former military facility is polluted with various toxins in soil and groundwater, some at more than 10 times the recommended levels.
Cheongwadae, the Blue House of South Korea, is now open to the public. The presidential office has moved, with the old grounds becoming a park and popular attraction.
The move was finalized just weeks before the inauguration of new president Yoon Suk-yeol.
The new office is in South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense, next to a US military base, as the government opened a park there this week, as part of a 10-day trial.
“President Yoon moved the presidential office to leave behind what he called the era or the symbol of imperial power and to be closer to the people. It has been suggested that visitors to this park will be able to see the president working in his fifth-floor office.
Just one problem. The park is polluted with toxins in the soil and groundwater several times the levels otherwise considered safe – an environmental disaster that is long in the making, activists say.
The American base is in the process of coming back under South Korean control.
Benzene, xylene and other hydrocarbons as well as arsenic and carcinogenic dioxins were detected at harmful levels in more than 60% of the area, according to a government-sponsored survey.
The Yoon administration plans to fully open the park in September and offer an American-themed cultural area, or little LA.