Cheongnamdae

Historic Building in Chungcheongbuk-do

Once the holiday home of South Korean presidents, this villa is no Camp David, but it’s a beautiful lakeside park, with 185 hectares of well-manicured grounds and 2.3km of paths along the lakefront and across the gently rolling hills. You can linger in the Chogajeong Pavilion where President Kim Dae-jung liked to sit, or look over the golf course that President Roh Tae-woo favoured but President Kim Young-sam disapproved of (too many associations with corruption).

Cheongnamdae was built in 1983 by President Chun Doo-hwan (whose takeover of power sparked the Gwangju Uprising in 1980). Twenty years later, the much-loved President Roh Moo-Hyun opened it to the public.

The parkland is more attractive than the surprisingly modest two-storey villa, with trails around the compound and a musical fountain (ABBA features on the soundtrack). Where the bus stops, there’s a building with a hagiographic exhibition (mostly Korean) on all the presidents, as well as displays of items used by the presidents in residence (polo mallets, Colgate shaving cream, cutlery).

Take local bus 311 (₩1300, 50 minutes, 15km, hourly) from outside Cheongju’s intercity bus terminal to the final stop at Munui. Walk out of Munui’s small bus depot and turn left. In a few minutes you’ll reach the car park and ticket office for the shuttle bus (15 minutes, every 30 minutes), which runs 9am to 4.30pm from February to November, and to 3.30pm December and January.

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