The capital of Chungcheongbuk-do, Cheongju (formerly Chongju) is located on the western side of the province in the center of the Korean peninsula.

During the Unified Shilla Period, Cheongju (whose name was Seowongyeong back then) served as a secondary capital. The city functioned as the provincial army command center during the Joseon era and the capital was moved here in 1908. It attained city status in 1949.

A transportation, industrial, and educational center for the region, the city has grown a bit lopsided with expansion mostly on the west side of town. Cheongju's downtown area still remains a bustling and popular place to eat, shop, and play. One of the city's most unusual relics is an iron flagpole, the Yongdusaji Cheoldanggan located at the former Yongdusa site. This flagpole dates back to A.D. 962, during the Goryeo Dynasty, and now stands outside the Cheongju Department Store.

From 1999, the city has hosted the Cheongju International Craft Biennale (tel. 043/277-2501; every 2 years, in odd-numbered years.