Military expert lambasts plan to relocate Blue House to Defense Ministry as “outrageous”

Posted on : 2022-03-18 17:07 KST Modified on : 2022-03-18 17:07 KST
Kim Jong-dae, a former Justice Party lawmaker, said moving the presidential office to a “military base” flew in the face of Yoon’s promise to be a “president among the people”
Former Justice Party lawmaker Kim Jong-dae (Park Seung-hwa/The Hankyoreh)
Former Justice Party lawmaker Kim Jong-dae (Park Seung-hwa/The Hankyoreh)

Kim Jong-dae, a military expert and former Justice Party lawmaker, is criticizing President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s proposal to relocate the presidential office to the Ministry of Defense building in Yongsan, saying the location is a “military base” and calling the suggested move “outrageous.”

In a radio interview with TBS on Thursday morning, Kim said that, based on information he had gathered, it was “almost certain" that Yoon would move his office to Yongsan.

“Kim Yong-hyun, former chief director of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was in charge of security policy for Yoon‘s camp, has been preparing [the move] since March and reportedly told [the ministry] to have everything moved out by April,” Kim said.

Meanwhile, he said that the Ministry of National Defense reportedly described the planned move as coming completely “out of the blue,” feeling “afflicted by their own and not by North Korea.”

According to Kim, the Yoon camp is telling the Ministry of Defense to empty their main building and move into the Joint Chiefs of Staff building next door. Although it would be theoretically possible for the defense minister himself to move there, “the policy departments of the ministry will reportedly be moved to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration building in Gwacheon,” Kim said, pointing out how Yoon’s plan would scatter these different departments around in different locations.

“The Ministry of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff are optimized as the last bastion and center of national security in case of an emergency,” Kim commented. “For example, if North Korea detonates a nuclear weapon in the air 60 kilometers above Seoul, it becomes an electromagnetic pulse — almost 100 billion won was spent on the construction of this defense facility alone [to defend it from such attacks]. And they want to send it all packing?” Kim asked.

“The Blue House crisis management center also spent a lot of money to build a system to manage terrorist situations, natural disasters, and national security situations, all of which are [now] useless,” Kim added.

Nevertheless, the Yoon camp still believes the move is a good idea.

“Yoon’s side says, ‘Crises will be better managed at the Joint Chiefs of Staff location given the special underground bunker and command and control headquarters,’ and ‘that’s where wars are conducted,’” Kim said, “But that’s a place where military commanders lead.”

“There is no place for the president to sit down with his staff or state officials. It’s cramped,” Kim said.

“It’s incomprehensible, moving to the Ministry of Defense to get closer to the public. It just doesn’t make sense,” Kim added, calling the current situation a “security emergency.”

“The Defense Ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff [locations] are military bases. How can citizens enter these places when security is stricter than at the Blue House?” Kim asked, criticizing the move as not fulfilling the objective of Yoon’s promise to become a “president among the people.”

By Choi Ha-yan, staff reporter

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