President Yoon Suk Yeol and first lady Kim Keon-hee on May 22 made a surprise appearance at the main garden in front of the main office building of Cheong Wa Dae, where a commemorative episode of "KBS Open Concert" was held to mark the opening of the former presidential compound.
This was the first time for the president to visit Cheong Wa Dae since his inauguration. He had the presidential office relocated to Seoul's Yongsan-gu District under his campaign pledge to open the compound to the public.
The chief executive wore a blue striped dress shirt, white jacket and gray slacks, while his wife wore a yellow jacket with a black checkered design. The couple watched the concert while sitting with the audience.
When the spotlight shone on the couple at the end of the live program, the host asked the presidential couple to stand up and bow to the audience, which they did.
President Yoon held the microphone and said, "I'm so glad and happy to listen to this beautiful music with you on a splendid May evening," adding that he was a fan of the show and that he and his wife visited KBS headquarters to watch it.
"The Cheong Wa Dae space is an extremely well-built and lovely park and a cultural heritage," he said. "Above all, it belongs to the people." The audience applauded afterwards.
The concert's subtheme was "Opening today with the people, tomorrow with hope (unofficial translation)" An estimated 2,000 people attended the event, with around 500 of whom being people of national merit, health and medical staff, people from single-parent multicultural families, expats and those living near Cheong Wa Dae. The remaining 1,500 had been randomly selected among those who applied to attend.
The KBS Symphony Orchestra and veteran and up-and-coming artists held diverse performances including those of gugak (traditional music), classical music, pop music and dance. The concert was broadcast live on KBS1 channel to allow the entire nation to see it.
The audience seemed to enjoy the concert on the green grass of the front yard at Cheong Wa Dae. Leila, a French national, 33, invited as a foreign resident of Seoul, called the concert "very entertaining" and said she was especially impressed by Leenalchi, a band that performs fusion gugak.
The presidential secretary management office and the Cultural Heritage Administration decided to open the interiors of the state guesthouse Yeongbingwan and the media center Chunchugwan from May 23, which marks two weeks since Cheong Wa Dae's opening.
The buildings within the complex had not been opened though Cheong Wa Dae was on May 10. But Yeongbingwan, where official dinners and events were held for state guests, and Chunchugwan, a media center for reporters where the president held news conferences, were opened after undergoing renovation.
The number of visitors to Cheong Wa Dae from May 10-22 was 377,888.