Uphill then further uphill then just a little further up. Even before Cheongwadae comes into view, armed police stand in their dark parkas stationed every one hundred yards. They've stood there since 1968, the year North Korean infiltrators snuck in and tried to assassinate the South Korean president and ninety nine people died. The guards eye us up and wave us on. We are the only tourists roaming this neighborhood today. I sip my steaming honey citron tea.
Cheongwadae, or the Blue House, sits tucked in right behind Gyeongbukgung Palace in north Seoul. It was built in 1948, just after the end of Japanese rule. Bukhan Mountain towers behind the Blue House, a natural defense barrier and the entrance to a national park.
We are vaguely impressed with the site, but we can't see much, can't get too close, can't even cross the street to stick our noses through the fence for a better view. That makes sense, because like the White House in the U.S, not all visitors are welcome. Pyongyang is only 120 miles away.
Across the street from the main gate, Shane places his feet on the inlaid brass footprints on the sidewalk that show exactly where the best place to take a photo is. As light snow shades the Blue House's tiled roof to white, we scuttle away under watchful eyes.