…Sarangchae at Cheong Wa Dae, In the Shadow of Presidents…

Sarangchae at Cheong Wa Dae is more than just a history center. From touring a mock presidential office to learning about the Korean wave, or Hallyu, Sarangcahe offers visitors a chance to increase their knowledge about Seoul. Its location in the garden of the presidential office makes it the perfect place to spend a bright afternoon.

Do you have questions about Seoul or the history of Korea that aren’t answered in tourist brochures? Then your next trip should be to Sarangchae at Cheong Wa Dae, of the Blue House, presidential office. Located in a corner of the Cheong Wa Dae garden, Sarangchae is a center that shares with visitors Korea’s history, modern attractions, traditional customs and the president’s vision for the future of the country.

The exhibition are of Sarangchae extends for 2,386.85 sqm and includes two above-ground floors and one basement level. On the first floor are the Korea Hall and Hi Seoul Hall, in addition to a cafe, souvenir shop and traditional demonstration space. On the second floor are the Presidential Hall, Green Growth Hall and G20 Lounge.

Korea Hall, on the first floor, is the very perfect starting point for a tour of Sarangchae. The hall welcomes you with a screen of colorful images that capture the beauty of the country. In this spacious hall, you can learn more about the history of Korea, UNESCO World Heritage sites located on the Korean Peninsula, the Korean language, food and traditional architecture.

Hi Seoul Hall, on the opposite side, is a place where you can view all of the attractions in Seoul at once. If you haven’t decided where you want to travel in Seoul yet, the exhibit on the city’s top 100 best-loved destinations may help you reach a decision. Visitors can see a panoramic night view of Seoul’s skyline, as well as the natural splendor of Mt Namsan and the Hangang River. You can also learn about Hallyu, or the Korean wave, which has spread Korean TV dramas and pop culture across the world in recent years.

Also om the second floor, an exhibit on traditional craftwork is not to be missed. In the lobby, a total of 38 crafts that were awarded either the best craftwork prize or presidential prize are on display. These unique pieces are something you can’t see even on Insa-dong’s art and antique street.

The Presidential Hall, on the second floor, will help you better understand the history and development of democracy in Korea. Exhibits outline the achievements of the country’s former presidents and depict a timeline of major democratic and industrial  events.

Are you more of a hands-on learner?
The Presidential Experience Hall, next to the Presidential Hall, features a mock presidential office where you can take souvenir portraits. In the blue screen photo studio nearby, you can take a photo with the Korean president and the first lady in a background of your choice. The photo of yourself with the country’s leader will make an unforgettable memento of your visit to Sarangchae.

The G20 Lounge, meanwhile, recreates last year’s G20 Summit in Seoul. You can sit on a chair at the G20 Summit roundtable in the hall and imagine that you are a head of state having an official meeting with the likes of US President Barack Obama or German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

After you are done looking at the second-floor exhibits, head back down to the first floor lobby to experience some of Korea’s traditional culture. Events include the transformation of the lobby into a tearoom, where women in hanbok, or Korean traditional culture. Events include the transformation of the lobby into a tearoom, where women in hanbok or Korean traditional clothing, serve fermented green tea on a wooden floor. It’s a great place to rest before heading to the Samcheong-dong neighborhood, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Gwanghwamun Square and other nearby attractions.

Tour Information
Admission fee : free
Opening hours : 09:00-18:00 (closed on Mondays)
Getting there : the center is a 10-minute walk from Gyeongbokgung Station, Line 3, exit No.4
Information : http://www.cwdsarangchae.kr/eng/main/main.php

Tours led by a cultural heritage expert are available in three languages: English, Japanese and China. Reservations are required. The tour takes between 40 minutes to an hour. English/Chinese tours 10:30 am, 12 pm, Japanese tours 2 pm, 4 pm

Source : Korea People & Culture Magazine, May 2011


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