The Cheongwadae, more popularly known as the Blue House, is the bastion of power of South Korea. It is the official residence and office of the President of the Republic. Needless to say, it is a very secured area.
It is admirable that Cheongwadae Tours open the facility to the public. But, of course, it comes with security measures. Visitors may register for a tour 3 weeks in advance. Korean nationals and foreigners register in different sites. I really don’t know the website address for Koreans but for foreigners, you may register here: http://english1.president.go.kr/tours/information.php
When the Philippine Women’s Club saw the opportunity to organize a tour, we immediately took the opportunity and gathered the maximum allowable attendees of 15 foreigners. We were there for the July 22, 2pm tour.
It was a hot and humid summer afternoon! Anyone who’s been here in Seoul during summer undoubtedly understands what I mean. But despite the heat and humidity, I personally felt it was worth it to bring friends and family there. My boys were profusely sweating but it was beyond anybody’s control. I know I brought home the message that the Cheongwadae tour isn’t just any other tour we can take anytime at our convenience. But if you can manage to squeeze in a Spring or a Fall schedule, the walk around the very secured place would be perfect!
The tour started at the Nokjiwon Garden surrounded by pine trees planted by the Presidents of the Republic. But the pine tree at the center will definitely catch your attention. It is the biggest and the oldest. It is a 310 year-old tree. Fortunately, we are allowed to take photos in this area:
Going inside the Blue House means we have to abide by the rules and the time they have set for us per area. There are only designated areas where we can take photos before we will be asked to move on to the next. Everyone was very respectful, including all the kids. I was actually surprised to see many children and it was only after when I realized that summer vacation for Korean schools have already started.
We only see this main building on TV. Last Saturday, we stood right in front of it:
Tour is conducted in Korean. There is no translator but a headset that delivers information in English, Japanese and Chinese.
We finished the tour but we opted to take the tour covering the area that housed the concubines. The place isn’t extraordinary but the story of the concubines were interesting. So when you take your own Cheongwadae tour someday, please make sure to take this last one even though you have an option to leave.
Some of our attendees have this to say:
“It was a really well organized tour and audio rental was useful. I wish we can see inside thou.. the gift was very nice touch… thanks for organizing this tour.” – Kiok Chon
It was an unforgettable tour to the Blue House last weekend. I have been curious about the Blue House for a long time and the Philippine Women’s Club offered this perfect chance. Cheong Wa Dae are comprised of the Main Office, Yeongbingwan (Guest House), Chunchugwan (Spring and Autumn Pavilion), Nokjiwon (Green grass), and the Mugunghwa (Rose of Sharon) Valley. It is interesting to see that these buildings all have distinctive shapes. They are unique and beautifully designed, built in the Korean traditional style. The main building has a hipped-and-gabled roof, which is the most refined and beautiful style among Korean architecture, covered with Korean style blue tiles. A walk around the paths just outside the Blue House grounds is a pleasure as the surroundings are peaceful and beautiful. My son and I both love the garden the most. He is most interested in the uniforms of the guards. It was a hot and humid summer day but the ladies from the Philippine Women’s Club made it all worthwhile. Thank you very much for having us on the tour. We had a wonderful time!” – Rona Min Xie
All attendees brought home a dainty pouch for adults and a small globe for each kid. Cheongwadae Tours also made sure that we each had ice-cold water. That was a thoughtful and very much appreciated gesture.
Cheongwadae is only available fro Tuesday- Friday and every 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month. You may process your tour application here: https://english1.president.go.kr/tours/tours.php.