After Seollal (or the Korean lunar new year celebration), my brothers-in-law and their families usually visit their wives’ families. My parents-in-law stay with us for the duration of the holiday. So last lunar new year, we went to visit “Cheongwadae Sarangchae” with my parents-in-law.
Cheongwadae Sarangchae is an exhibition hall for the Office of the President. It is located in Hyoja-dong, which is to the left of Gyeongbok-gung (the palace). To get there, take bus #8000 at Gyeongbokgung station.
So what can you see at Cheongwadae Sarangchae? On the first floor, what would be greet you are the numerous screens showcasing the best of Korea – food, dances, places to visit – things that a Korean would love a foreigner to see. I don’t remember exploring the first floor much when I saw the souvenir shop. I bought a few things at the shop then I immediately went to the second floor.
On the second floor, there is an exhibition hall featuring the past and present presidents of the Republic of Korea. The various gifts they received from visiting heads of states are on display – from beautifully crafted vases to woodcrafts and tea sets and even macanudo cigars. Notes, like the one from former Philippine president GMA, were framed for the visitors to see.
Cheongwadae Sarangchae is not just a place to look at things that are Korean. There are lots of interactive stuff that you can do there. A hit among the visitors is the “blue” room where you can have your picture “taken” with President Lee Myung Bak and his wife with Cheongwadae as the background. You can then have the picture sent to your email address.
For Hallyu fans, there is a huge display with pictures, info and music of your favorite Korean drama and movies. There are only seven shows on display and I guess these are the most popular ones among foreign fans.
Want more photo opportunities? Pose beside the Royal Guards or the two Korean teddy bears. There is also a replica of the presidential office. My son loved the super-comfy chair. When we entered the G20 Room, he ran to where the Canadian flag was. He recognized it at once since it’s his other favorite country aside from “Dae Han Min Guk”.
By the way, since it was a holiday when we visited the staff gave us small bags of candies. On the first floor, you can find postcards that you can keep as souvenirs. The entrance to the exhibition hall is free and they are open from 9 to 6 except Mondays.