AttractionsHistoric presidential palace in Seoul draws the crowds as a concert venue and tourist attraction.

Seoul makes history with the Blue House

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Entry to the Blue House palace compound is free and is limited to 49,000 visitors per day on any day except Tuesdays, when it is closed.
Entry to the Blue House palace compound is free and is limited to 49,000 visitors per day on any day except Tuesdays, when it is closed. Photo Credit: Seoul Tourism Organization

In South Korea, visitors have been flocking in droves to see where the country's leaders used to work and live.

As of last month, the country's former presidential palace, Cheong Wa Dae, also known as the Blue House because of its striking tiled roof, was vacated and opened its doors to the public.

Since then, the sprawling 250,000 sqm compound in Seoul has gained a new lease on life as a concert venue and buzzed-about tourist attraction, luring more than 770,000 visitors.

The country's K-pop industry was quick to avail of the venue, with superstar Rain staging a solo concert last week, set to be streamed on Netflix.

Key attractions at the Blue House include the main office building, the official residence inside a hanok (Korean traditional house), the state guest house, and a garden with 120 species of trees, many planted by former presidents.

Situated at the foot of Mount Bugak, the Blue House site was once the private rear garden of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910) kings who lived in the main palace Gyeongbokgung. The blue-roofed official residence was added during the Japanese colonial era in 1939, after which from 1948 onwards, post-independence South Korean presidents made it their home.

Approximately 150,000 blue tiles comprise the roof of the current main office building, which was designed to look like a Joseon dynasty palace and completed in 1991.

While no official decision has been announced regarding the Blue House's future, scholars have called for its conversion into, among others, a park, museum, library, concert hall and cultural festivals venue.

South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol, meanwhile, has shifted his office to Yongsan.

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