May 13, 2022 12:41
Huge crowds are swarming Cheong Wa Dae and its sylvan surrounding now that they have been opened to the public, while the new presidential office in Yongsan is drawing more protests to the area.
The remarkable thing is how swift these changes have been in the two days since President Yoon Suk-yeol was inaugurated.
A group representing 5,000 Yongsan residents is already getting up a petition to submit to the Seoul Metropolitan Government seeking to ban protests in their backyard and seeking protection for locals if protests escalate.
"At first we thought it would be an honor to have the presidential office here, but we've found out how stressful it can be with the rallies last weekend," a spokesman for the group said. One 36-year-old who has lived on nearby Ichon-dong for more than 30 years said, "If the rallies increase, the noise will only get louder."
Meanwhile busloads of eager visitors are flocking to Cheong Wa Dae, which allows up to 39,000 people to visit from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. As of Thursday, 2.31 million people had applied for a ticket, which has meant a welcome uptick for businesses in Jongno.
One 55-year-old who owns a restaurant near Cheong Wa Dae said, "I had a really tough time due to protests here, but since Cheong Wa Dae opened to the public the number of customers has increased two or three times."
And Kim Gwang-jae (60), who runs a Korean restaurant in Hyoja-dong next to Cheong Wa Dae, said, "I even get customers early in the morning, and I expect foreign tourists will also be coming soon."
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