Presidents' Retreat Opens to Public After 47 Years

      September 09, 2019 12:17

      A tiny islet off Geoje Island in South Gyeongsang Province, which was beloved as a summer holiday destination by several presidents, will open to public for the first time in 47 years.

      The city of Geoje said last Thursday that the first ferry from Geoje to Jeo will operate on Sept. 17. The islet measures only 430,000 sq.m.

      Some 40 households lived in the islet, but most of them were evicted by Japanese during the colonial period as it was used as ammunition storage for the Japanese Army in 1920.

      It later became an ammunition depot for the allied forces during the Korean War, and then a naval base and presidential summer holiday home.

      President Moon Jae-in looks at a tree with other visitors on Jeo Islet in South Gyeongsang Province on July 30. /Newsis

      Ownership was transferred to the Ministry of Defense in 1954, and it was designated as a military zone in 1972 and civilian access was prohibited. But it has a nine-hole golf course, a sandy beach stretching about 200 m as well as a presidential summer house.

      President Moon Jae-in visited Jeo at the end of July and promised that it will be returned to the people of Geoje. The municipal government and the Ministry of Defense agreed to gradually open the observatory, walking paths and beach to the public with the exception of the presidential villa and military facilities.

      The ferry travels 3.9 km to reach Jeo. One ferry with a capacity of 360 passengers will be operating the route for W18,000 for the return ticket if booked online, but residents of Geoje will get a discount ticket for W15,000 (US$1=W1,196).

      The islet will be open to the public five days a week except for Mondays and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ferry leaves twice a day at 10:20 a.m. and 2:20 p.m.

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