South Korea’s Presidential Blue House welcomes tourists

The South Korean government is urging more foreign visitors to avail of the public viewing of its former presidential residence, Cheong Wa Dae Palace, commonly known as the Presidential Blue House.

For decades, the Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae), which was named after its distinctive blue roof tiles, has served as a symbol of power and governance in South Korea.

Cheong Wa Dae Palace, more commonly known as the Presidential | Blue House.

It has been a residence for the country’s top leaders since the first South Korean President, Rhee Syng-man, was elected in 1948. While the Palace has gone through multiple transformations and restorations over the years, its vivid blue roof remained, depicting traditional Korean architecture.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol during his inauguration on 10 May 2022, announced that the Blue House will be publicly open, fulfilling his promise to relocate the presidential office to the Defence Ministry Building in Yongsan District — to make his administration more accessible and government-friendly to the Korean people.

The incumbent President said his relocation primarily targets to make his office closer to the citizens which will allow for “better communications” between the leaders and the public.

Yoon’s announcement to formally leave the Blue House was followed by the unveiling of the government’s public tour program within the residence. The heavily-secured Palace in Seoul was previously less visited.

THE public tour initiative will mark its first year this month.

But after 75 years, the Blue House Palace has become a relaxing tourism area for Korean residents and foreigners — enjoying the tour activity inside the main administrative building, including the official residence of the country’s president, the state guest house, shrines, pavilions, state reception house, press hall, secretariat buildings, and meeting halls. Some premises remain restricted to the public.

The President’s public tour initiative in the Blue House will be commemorating its first-year anniversary this month.

Tourists and excursionists can avail of the tour by signing up for an online appointment or through an on-site application.

Admission to the compound is free. Appointments are open until the allowable maximum of 39,000 people visit daily and are filled in.

The tour starts from the gates of the Blue House. In this area, your tour guide claims reservation identification for visitors. Once you have the ID, make sure to wear all throughout the tour. Guests also go through security checks.

The tour inside starts at the Chunchugwan — the Blue House press center where journalists get briefed on government policies. You will again pass through a security check before you can come inside.

Wheelchairs for guests.

You will also be able to see Nokjiwon’s garden a 170-year-old umbrella pine tree and three Korean red pine trees. The lawn in the areas was previously used in presidential outdoor events.

As you walk through the residence, you will see the beautiful Hanok house in front of Nokjiwon — the Sangchunjae, this is where the important Palace visitors are accommodated.

At the Main Blue House building, you see the traditional Hanok style architecture and there is this Bugaksan Mountain at the back of it.

The authorities also open Yeonbingwan or the State Guest House for welcome banquets, state meetings, and various performances.

The entire tour may last up to 70 mins. Food and beverages are not allowed inside the Blue House premises. If feeling tired, there are benches scattered in the compound. Drinking water is also free in the visitors’ lounge. Toilets are also available at the security houses.

There’s no doubt that we, Filipinos have been widely influenced by the South Korean culture we call as “Korean Wave”— greatly visible by our addiction to Korean pop music, television drama series, movies, or K-dramas, as well as our dreams to travel back and forth to South Korea.

When on a South Korean trip, you may include the Blue House visitation in your bucket list.

Feed your eyes with South Korean architectural styles and traditional wooden structures — beautifully designed to calm your heart and soul. Feel the fascinating mountainside views with appeasing weather.