Nearly six months since the opening of Cheong Wa Dae to the public on May 1, how the former presidential office site should be used remains highly controversial, with the most recent debate centering around a performance by star singer Rain filmed at the Blue House grounds. The Netflix music reality show "Take 1" aired Oct. 14.
Responding to criticism over a commercial use of the space, the Cultural Heritage Administration, in charge of Cheong Wa Dae operations since May 23, said the Netflix event was held in accordance with the guidelines concerning the use of Cheong Wa Dae. However, reports released during recent parliamentary inspections have raised a number of questions concerning Netflix's use of the Cheong Wa Dae grounds.
The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea lawmaker Lee Byeong-hoon said on social media Friday that Netflix should not have been allowed to film there. Referring to a CHA report submitted to his office, Lee claimed the CHA gave preferential treatment to Netflix in allowing the global streaming platform to use the Cheong Wa Dae grounds.
The current regulation concerning Cheong Wa Dae bans filming there for commercial purposes.
Rain’s performance was filmed June 17, five days after the regulation went into effect. A subsidiary regulation states, "The regulation applies to filming conducted after June 20." Lee claims the clause was added to allow Netflix's filming.
The lawmaker also claimed the presidential office was directly involved in the show being filmed at Cheong Wa Dae and went as far to say that the event tainted the historical and symbolic meaning of Cheong Wa Dae as a whole.
Meanwhile, Jeon Jae-soo, a main opposition Democratic Party lawmaker, on Monday alleged that the presidential office had proposed another event be held at the Blue House.
Jeon claims the Presidential Office had suggested to the Culture Ministry that Seoul Fashion Week, the country's largest biannual fashion event, be held at the Blue House.
Reports submitted to Jeon’s office by the Culture Ministry indicate that the ministry spoke with the CHA concerning the event, days after the suggestion was made in June, according to Jeon. The CHA turned down the suggestion, Jeon claims. Seoul Fashion Week was held Oct. 11-15 at Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
A number of filmings at the Blue House that took place after its opening have come under public scrutiny.
In early August, a furniture promotion video showing a sofa placed on Cheong Wa Dae grounds was taken down after it stoked public fury over the apparent commercial use of the video.
On Aug. 22, a fashion spread for the September issue of Vogue Korea that contained photos of models dressed in modernized hanbok and dresses, using Cheong Wa Dae buildings as the backdrop, came under widespread criticism and was deleted from the publication's webpage.
Separately, a Gucci fashion show is expected to be held at Gyeongbokgung's Geunjeongjeon, the main hall of the Joseon royal palace, on Nov. 1, after getting the nod from the CHA.
A CHA official who spoke to The Korea Herald on Monday said they have not been informed of the details about the show's content or schedule, except for a notice from the show’s public relations agency in Korea that six people from CHA have been invited to the show.
The CHA in the past has said that lack of communication with those in charge of the events after obtaining permission to use the venue was a major problem that should be resolved.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Office on Monday refuted Jeon's claims, stating that it was Seoul City that had suggested Seoul Fashion Week be held at Cheong Wa Dae, a proposal that was subsequently turned down by CHA. The statement issued by the presidential spokesperson's office went on to say that it was informed by the Culture Ministry that such a proposal had been made and that it had not made any proposals regarding the event.