South Korean presidential park infested with US military base toxins
New South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has moved his office closer to a US military base in the center of Seoul, and opened a park in the area on a trial basis.
However, recent environmental assessments show the former military installation is polluted with various toxins in the soil and groundwater, some at more than 10 times the recommended levels.
Cheongwadae, South Korea’s Blue House, is now open to the public. The presidential office has moved, with the former grounds becoming a park and popular attraction.
The move was finalized just weeks before incoming president Yoon Suk-yeol’s inauguration.
The new office is in South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense, adjacent to a US military base, with the government this week opening a park there, on a 10-day trial.
“President Yoon moved the presidential office to leave behind what he called the era or symbol of imperial power and get closer to the people. It’s 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 many times the levels otherwise considered safe – an environmental catastrophe a long time in the making, activists say.
The US base is in the process of returning to South Korean control.
Benzene, Xylene, and other hydrocarbons as well as arsenic and cancer-causing dioxins have been detected at harmful levels in more than 60% of the area, shows a government-sponsored survey.
The Yoon administration plans to open the park fully in September, and feature an American-themed culture zone, or little LA.