The Blue House, written as Cheong Wa Dae in the Korean language, is the official home of the President of South Korea. Located in Seoul, which is the national capital of South Korea, the Blue House is one of the most protected presidential residences in Asia. The Blue House is built on the royal garden of the Joseon Kingdom, which was a powerful Korean kingdom that lasted for more than five centuries. Rather than a single building, the Blue House is a complex that includes the presidential residence, main office hall, secretarial buildings, press hall, and state-reception house. The entire complex occupies an area of approximately 62 acres.
History of Blue House
The land occupied by the Blue House was initially the site of a royal villa in Hanyang, the Goryeo Dynasty’s southern capital (918-1392). King Sukjong, who became king after Heonjong, renounced the throne in 1095, and built the royal villa in 1104. The principal capital of the Goryeo kingdom was located in Kaesong, but the kingdom maintained an eastern capital in Gyeongju and a western capital in Pyongyang. The primary capital was moved to Hanyang during the Joseon Dynasty. After the capital was moved, King Taejo, the first king of the Joseon Dynasty, constructed the Gyeongbok Palace in 1395 and made it his main residence. The royal villa became the back garden of the Gyeongbok Palace, and it was used as the place for military training and civil service examination.
After Japan annexed the Korean Empire in 1910, the Gyeongbok Palace was converted into the Japanese Government General Building by the Governor-General of Korea. Japan constructed the governor general’s official office and residence on the site of the Blue House in 1939. Japan ruled over Korea from 1910 to 1945, and when the Republic of Korea was established in 1948, its first president, Syngman Rhee, made the governor-general’s residence the presidential residence and office, and named it Gyeongmudae. In 1960, President Yun Bo-seon changed the building’s name from Gyeongmudae to Cheong-Wa-Dae following inauguration.
North Korean infiltrators almost reached the Blue House during an attempt to assassinate President Chung-hee in 1968. During the 1968 Blue House raid, 28 North Koreans, 26 South Koreans, and 4 Americans were killed. Additionally, at least 66 South Koreans were injured, including 24 civilians. Presidents Chun Doo-Hwan, Cho Kyu-ha, and Park Chung-hee have used the Blue House as their official residence and office. During President Roh Tae-woo’s term in office, a press center, official residence, and an office building were added. The new office building was opened in 1991. The building that was constructed by Japan as the Governor-General of Korea's residence was dismantled in 1993.
Setting of the Blue House
Geomancers have always considered the land upon which the Blue House was built to be an auspicious place. Mount Bukhan is situated on the northern side of the Blue House, which contains three peaks, namely Mangyeongdae, Insubong, and Baegundae. Mount Bukhan is also flanked by two other mountains, Inwangsan on the right, which symbolizes the White Tiger, and Naksan on the left, which symbolizes the Azure Dragon.