Current Korea

Cheong Wa Dae, Back to The People

  • Written by Sohn Ji-ae
Korea’s presidential compound Cheong Wa Dae will fully open to the public on the first day of the inauguration of the nation’s 20th President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol. Full public access to the presidential complex mirrors the incoming administration’s desire to return presidential power to the people.
Cheong Wa Dae
Full Access to Cheong Wa Dae

Cheong Wa Dae, situated at the foot of Bukaksan Mountain, has been the venue of the presidential compound and residence for the past 74 years since the South Korean government was established in 1948.

The presidential complex, also known as the Blue House, consists of the main office building, the presidential residence, the state reception hall Yeongbingwan, the state guesthouse Sangchunjae, the press hall, among others.

Due to its secluded location and off limits to the public for decades, Cheong Wa Dae has often been seen as a symbol of absolute power and as a cause of making the president be “out of touch” with the citizens.

However, under the new administration that comes into power in May, Cheong Wa Dae as a symbol of the nation’s presidential authority is set to fade into history.

On May 10, the first day of 20th President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol’s term in office, the presidential compound will open its doors to the people. Not only the main office building and the state reception hall, but also the state guesthouse and the garden Nokjiwon will welcome the people back.

With full public access under the incoming government, Cheong Wa Dae, surrounded by vast green areas in the heart of Seoul, will likely turn into a space for cultural events, as well as a public park.

The Cheong Wa Dae map
Returning Power to Citizens

Behind the decision to completely open the presidential compound to the public lies President-elect Yoon’s desire to “return presidential power to the people.”

With the full public access to the compound, President-elect Yoon believes that his new administration will be returning the power to its own people. “True presidential power comes from the people. With this thought deeply engraved in my heart, I will make each and every one of your voices heard,” he said.

According to the president-elect’s transition committee, Cheong Wa Dae’s open spaces will be converted into those for performances, exhibitions and walking trails for the public in and around the complex. As the complex is home to historical artifacts and sites, including Buddha statues, and the Chilgung Palace royal shrine from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the venue is expected to allow visitors to discover more of Korean history and culture.

In the meantime, full public access to Cheong Wa Dae also results in opening the historical trail loop from Gwanghawmun to Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bugaksan Mountain which was cut off in the middle by the closed gate of the presidential compound.

Staying ‘In Touch’

Prior to the full opening of Cheong Wa Dae, the transition committee on April 14 launched a new official website “Cheong Wa Dae, Back to The People.” The new government will use the platform to stay connected with the people.

The website provides information about the history and main facilities of Cheong Wa Dae, as well as upcoming events and the unveiled hiking trails from the compound to Bukaksan Mountain. To facilitate better communication with the public, the website will also gather public opinions and questions about Cheong Wa Dae as a public space.

The website is also available in 10 languages for foreign visitors, from English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish and Arabic to Russian, German, French, Vietnamese and Indonesian. “Everyone is welcome to share his or her opinions through this website. The full opening of Cheong Wa Dae from May 10 will mark a new era for the nation,” said the transition committee.

Returning Cheong Wa Dae to the public on the inauguration day of the nation’s 20th president represents the new administration’s pledge to the nation: “Making a new Korea where the people are the master.”

“A new nation of the people” is something that President-elect Yoon has kept emphasizing from the beginning of his campaign.