Seoul wants U.S. envoy's residence
January 25, 2005 ㅡ Not only does the South Korean government envision relocating the U.S. Embassy to Camp Coiner, it also wants the current U.S. ambassador's residence to be vacated.
The residence, called Habib House after former U.S. envoy to Korea Philip Habib, is a neo-traditional house built in 1976 with funds from the State Department and U.S. businesses in Korea. It is the only U.S. ambassador's residence in the world built in the traditional style of its host country. Also on the site is the historic U.S. legation building, originally granted to Washington in 1883. The U.S. Embassy renovated it extensively last year.
A Foreign Ministry official said yesterday that the South Korean government is considering swapping the former Gyeonggi Girls' High School site, near Deoksu Palace, originally designated as the new U.S. Embassy compound, and the nearby U.S. ambassador's residence in Jeong-dong, both belonging to the U.S. Embassy, in exchange for property that houses Camp Coiner and is owned by the South Korean Defense Ministry in Yongsan. The official claimed that the U.S. Embassy is viewing the deal favorably.
However, a U.S. Embassy official said yesterday only that both sides were closely consulting on the issue.
In 1990, both countries agreed to move the current embassy to the former Gyeonggi Girls' High School site near Deoksu Palace. However, the Cultural Heritage Administration recently designated the site an area of historic significance.
by Brian Lee