As Cheong Wa Dae opens its doors to the public this year! And here are a few things to know about Cheong Wa Dae before visiting.
Cheong Wa Dae [청와대] or Blue House is the official office and residence of the president of South Korea. Cheong Wa Dae has been opened to the public last May 10, 2022, after 74 years. A lot of locals and tourists booked a reservation to see what’s inside the Cheong Wa Dae.
So here are a few things to know about Cheong Wa Dae before visiting. There are some buildings and gardens that I am not able to take photos of due to lack of time. But what I am sharing here are the main attractions which you shouldn’t forget to see when you visit.
In 1104, King Sukjong, the 15th ruler of the Goryeo Dynasty (918–1392) built a royal villa at this location. Goryeo consists of 4 capitals during that time; (1) Hanyang (now Seoul) in the southern part, (2) Kaesong (now North Korea) in the main, and (3) Pyongyang (the largest city in North Korea) in the west, and (4) Gyeongju in the eastern part.
When the Goryeo dynasty ended in 1392, it was also the start of the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897). When Hanyang became the capital of Joseon, King Taejo started to build Geyongbokgung in 1395. The palace was completed in 1426, during the time of King Sejong. Then the royal villa became the rear garden of the main palace.
In 1592, the Imjin War (Japanese Invasion) broke out and the palace, area of Cheong Wa Dae was totally ruined and had been neglected for about 270 years. It was only rebuilt in 1865 due to the efforts of Heungseon Daewongun during the second year of King Gojong.
In 1910, during the Japanese occupation era, the Governor-General used the area of Cheong Wa Dae as his residence. When the Republic of Korea was founded in 1948, President Syngman Rhee (the first President of Korea) called the building ‘Gyeongmudae‘. From then, Gyeongmudae was used as an official residence and office of the president.
On December 30, 1960, President Yun Bo-seon, the second president of South Korea renamed the residence as Cheong Wa Dae, after its beautiful blue tiles. These blue tiles became a cultural icon of Korea.
Buildings inside Cheong Wa Dae
Yeongbingwan (State Guest House)
This building is used as a state reception hall for large and state events which can accommodate more than 100 guests. The construction of Yeongbingwan started in January 1978 and was completed in December of the same year.
It has a modern structure with 18 stone pillars to support the entire building. The first floor serves as a reception hall for foreign state guests and the second floor was used for large-scale lunch or dinner meetings. For now, the first floor is only open for public viewing.
When we visited we were asked to wear foot socks to keep the carpet clean.
Blue House Main Office Building
On September 4, 1991, the Blue House main office building was built. Although there were some issues it was not appropriate to use the place because it was once used by the governor-general during the Japanese colonial period.
The main building was constructed based on a traditional wooden structure and palace architecture. The Paljak roof consists of 150,000 blue tiles which are known as one of the most elegant and stylish roof styles of Korean structure.
The Chungmusil is located in the eastern annex of the main building. In this room large-scale appointments were awarded or where meetings are held. Also, it was used as a multi-purpose space for dinners and performances when foreign guests came.
무궁화실 [First Lady’s Office]
The main building consists of two floors; the first floor has the office of the first lady known as the Mugunghwa Office. Portraits of the previous first ladies are also curated on the wall at the First Lady’s office.
The second floor is for the presidential office and meeting rooms.
인왕실 [Inwang Royal House]
Inwang Royal House was used for small gatherings and meetings. The milky white walls and chandeliers create a Western-style atmosphere.
대통령 집무실 [Office of the President] & 접견실 [ Reception Room]
The office of the President is the heart of the Blue House’s Main building. It is the space where the president works and presides over small meetings. The Reception Room was also used as a meeting place for presidential and foreign guests. Also, it was decorated with a Sipjangsaeng pattern, Korean paper, wooden window frames, and doors to create a Korean atmosphere.
There’s also a single-story building on the left and right wings of the main building. The left-wing used a meeting room for cabinet members called as Sejong Chamber. While the right-wing used it for small events or parties called Chungmu Chamber. These two chambers are not open to the public yet.
The same with Yeongbingwan, visitors should wear foot socks provided at the entrance of the building.
Official Presidential Residence
This is the official presidential residence which consists of the master bedroom, dining, kitchen, salon, family room, and others. There’s also a conference room and a presidential office and an office for secretaries.
The official presidential residence is not fully open to visitors but can still see what’s inside through the windows. But if you are curious about what it looks like inside you should watch the Master in the House episode 227. It is the first variety show that films inside the Blue House.
Many said that the most beautiful place in Cheong Wa Dae is Nokjiwon Garden, built in 1968. It has a wide green grass lawn which is really perfect for walking. It has an area of 3,300 square meters and covers about 100 trees.
The main attraction at Nokjiwon was the 160 years old big pine tree which is about 17 meters tall.
If you want to learn more about Korean culture and the history of the former presidents of South Korea, visit Cheong Wa Dae Sarangchae. It has exhibition halls that display and tells things about the Blue House. There’s also an interactive experience center for visitors to enjoy and take some photos too.
How to Make a Reservation
Making a reservation is very easy. Select the desired time and date of visit, verify your identity, and agree to the terms and conditions upon reservation. For the complete guide, you may check How to Make a Reservation at Cheong Wa Dae.
Currently, the new president is residing at Yongsan,-gu, Seoul.
K-Dramas/Shows Filmed at Cheong Wa Dae
- Iris, 2009 (KBS TV Drama)
- Big Thing, 2010 (SBS TV Drama)
- City Hunter, 2011 (SBS TV Drama)
- King of Ambition, 2013 (SBS TV Drama)
- Assembly, 2015 (KBS TV Drama)
- Vagabond, 2019 (SBS TV Drama)
- Designated Survivor: 60 Days, 2019 (tvN TV Drama)
- Master in the House, 2022 (SBS Variety Show)
How to get there?
Take a subway going to Gyeongbokgun Station (Line 3) and exit at 5. Walk for about 10 minutes going to the entrance of Cheong Wa Dae.
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