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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Plans for a new $240 million U.S. Embassy chancery and housing area have stalled, pending an archeological survey, an embassy spokeswoman said Friday.

Maureen Cormack said the delay — caused by concerns over historical property in Chung-dong near City Hall owned by the U.S. government but formerly the site of Kyongun Palace — affects Korean visa applicants.

“If we had more space available, we would open more windows for interviews,” Cormack said.

Earlier this month, Grant Green, undersecretary of state for management, met with South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Young- kwan about the embassy construction and other issues, Cormack said. No further meetings about the embassy project are scheduled, she said.

Occasionally, protesters have gathered near the current U.S. Embassy, saying the new site should be preserved because of its cultural value. They say a new U.S. embassy would be insensitive to Korean history, and construction there would foul the neighborhood.

Cormack said the embassy will “work closely with the Korean government in order to resolve this issue” along with abiding by Koreans laws.

At the Korean government’s prompting, the U.S. government purchased the new embassy site in 1986, where a former girls high school was located. Kyongun Palace was located on the grounds in the 1800s.

King Kojong — the last Korean king — designated the Chung-dong area for American representatives and had the U.S. Legation House built for the first U.S. representative in 1883.

The U.S. government bought the site from the royal family in 1888, and American ambassadors have lived on the property for 119 years.

Toksu Palace, located near the property, was built after the purchase of the legation property. A street separates it from the U.S. ambassador’s home and two other contiguous properties planned for the embassy and housing project.


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