A Journey Through Cheongwadae: Exploring Korea’s Former Presidential Residence

Written by : Brionna Hollis


Cheong Wa Dae, also known as The Blue House in English, served as the presidential office and residence from August 15, 1948 until May 9, 2022. The Blue House complex includes several buildings, gardens, and presidential offices. The complex was originally built in 1104 during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) and served as a royal villa. Over the centuries, it underwent several reconstructions and expansions, eventually becoming a presidential residence after the Korean War.


The Main Building


The Main building, constructed in 1991, served as the presidential office and reception venue for guests over the course of seven consecutive administrations. The exterior follows Korea’s traditional architecture style with the hip-and-gable roof adorned with 150,000 blue tiles (hence the name The Blue House). The first floor consists of the Inwang Room, used for meetings, luncheons and dinners; the First Lady’s office; and the Mugunghwa Room. The second floor holds the presidential office; a reception room; and the Jiphyeon Room, used for meetings.

Presidential Residence

The president’s official residence is where the presidents and first families lived before May 10, 2022. Its main building served as the residential area, and the annex served as a guest reception venue. The front yard consists of a small garden and Sarangchae, detached outer quarters. The signboard at the entrance says, “Insumun” which means “the people passing through this gate will live a long life, blessed with friendly people.” The presidential residence roof is decorated with the blue tiles like the main building.

Sangchunjae Hall

Before Sangchunjae Hall was built, there were no traditional Hanok-style buildings in the complex. For foreign guests, Sangchunjae Hall was built to introduce traditional culture. Roughly translated, “Sangchunjae” means where spring continues so the Hall is meant to make the guest feel warm.

Nokjiwon Garden

It is considered the most beautiful place in the Cheongwadae complex. The vast lawn garden has 120 kinds of trees and some commemoration plantings of former presidents. In the center of Nokjiwon Garden is a pine tree called Bansong. It got the name because the branches look like a small dining table called Soban. The garden was also a place where scholars of the Joseon Dynasty took Gwageo (a state examination to hire officials in Joseon Dynasty period). Because it is so vast, former presidents invited the people here every year on Children’s Day, Parents’ Day, and Disabled Day to enjoy cultural events.


Cheongwadae represents the past, present, and future of the Republic of Korea. This is because it is where all the meetings and affairs had been conducted. Today, Cheongwadae is open to the public. The opening stands for the intention to return the presidential office to the public, who is the real owner. Experience this symbolic space that combines the modern and political history of Korea.

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