Have you ever been to the residence of the president of South Korea? It is called Cheong Wa Dae, or Blue House. Why it is Blue House? And what does mean Cheong Wa Dae? All these questions will be answered below.
How to visit Cheong Wa Dae?
The reservation is required to go inside the Cheong Wa Dae area. And now it works like a lottery. Even if you make a reservation, it doesn’t guarantee that you can visit the Blue House. You make a reservation around 2 weeks before the visit, and a week later they will send you a message if your reservation was approved.
But I think they will change that system later, so more people will be able to visit the president’s residence.
And it is FREE of charge! Only online reservation is required. They even prepared free maps!
What is Cheong Wa Dae
Cheong Wa Dae is not only one building, it is a complex of multiple buildings. And its territory is really huge, around 250,000 square meters. Also, it is known as one of the most protected official residences in Asia.
The Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae) is a facility that was used as the office and residence of the President of the Republic of Korea in the past, until May 10th, 2022. Before the Yoon Seok-Yeol (current Korean president) administration opened the Blue House to the private sector and relocated the presidential office, until the time of the Moon Jae-in administration, the Blue House was the presidential office with the functions of the presidential office where the president of the Republic of Korea performed his official duties and the presidential residence after work.
Cheong Wa Dae is located in Seoul, in Jongno district, right behind the Gyeongbokgung palace.
Cheong Wa Dae history
During Japan’s annexation, in July 1939, Japan built an official residence/office for the governor-general on the site of Cheong Wa Dae.
With the establishment of the Republic of Korea, in 1948, former President Syngman Rhee took over the residence of the former Governor-General of Joseon, which had been used as the official residence of the commander of the U.S. Military Government, and started using it as the presidential office. He called it Gyeong Mu Dae, which means ‘capital pavilion’.
Then, in 1960 President Yoon Bo-seon changed the name to the current name based on the blue tile roof of the main building of Gyeongmudae, and former President Roh Tae-woo built the current main building familiar to the people.
Visit Cheong Wa Dae
At 11:38 am on May 10, 2022, 74 citizens entered the Blue House for the first time in 74 years, and the Blue House was fully opened.
I started my trip with the Yeongbin-gwan building («Welcome-Guest House») because it was the first building I saw when I crossed the gates. But, before entering that building I stayed in line for almost 2 hours!!!
But I was inside the building for less than 5 minutes. It is where the Korean president had official dinners with foreign ministers and other guests.
Probably, you have seen that background in news. It was the only open building in Cheong Wa Dae. The rest buildings are closed to visitors. But I heard that it will be possible to enter those buildings too soon after all important documents and stuff inside the buildings will be secured.
Then we walked to the main building. It was a president’s office. It is a modern building with elements of traditional Korean architecture. There was a line of people who wanted to take a photo in front of that building 🙂 So, I just took a photo of the building from the side.
There are mountains…And there is a statue of Buddha in the mountains. That statue was brought from Geonju in 2018, and it was created around 110 years ago during the Silla dynasty.
As I already told you, Cheong Wa dae’s territory is really huge, so I spent there at least 3 hours.
I saw people who came here with picnic mats. There is even a small stream, so it is a really cool place for a short break.
I was impressed by the facilities which were organized for visitors. A spot with free drinking water, and bio-toilets all around the President’s residence.
There is a museum dedicated to the presidents of Korea, and that is the next place where I will take you soon.
Official site: https://tour.president.go.kr/Contact/Tours