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From ancient folk traditions and royal artefacts to contemporary history and futuristic technologies, South Korea has a museum for just about every area of interest. Here are our favorites.
Established to honor the noble sacrifice of South Korea’s patriotic martyrs, the War Memorial of Korea serves as a national moral educational venue with its some 33,000 war-related artifacts. Visitors should set aside a few hours to explore the museum’s six separate indoor halls and the outdoor exhibition hall of jumbo-sized weapons. Of particular interest is the War History Room, an exhibit that showcases Korean weaponry and battle uniforms from as early as the prehistoric age up to the late 1800s. The Wartime Life Room, meanwhile, allows visitors to wander through replicas of post-Korean War villages to get a better idea of what a nearly annihilated Seoul was like for the decade following the war.
29, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82-2-709-3139
It’s no surprise that the sea is so important to the citizens of Busan, South Korea’s largest port city and the world’s fifth busiest seaport by cargo tonnage. The exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum demonstrate this importance by focusing on all aspects of marine and ocean life, from the creatures of the sea to the history of the city’s maritime industry. The museum also houses a library, aquarium, performance stage, and a 4D theatre, offering something for all ages.
Dongsam 1(il)-dong, Busan, South Korea, +82-51-309-1900
As the capital city of the Silla Kingdom (57 BC – AD 935), the city of Gyeongju is steeped in history and tradition. Perhaps nowhere is this more obvious than at the Gyeongju National Museum. Here, artifacts are beautifully curated in a variety of exhibitions areas including the Main Hall, which features earthenware, artworks and craftworks; the Gukeun Memorial Hall which houses over 600 artifacts from the personal collection of Dr. Lee Yang-Seon; and the Gobun Gallery in Annex I, a collection of artifacts from the city’s great tombs.
For a look into everyday life of the royal court, stop by Annex 2, where household goods and artifacts excavated from the Wolji Pond are on display. Visitors can get an up-close look at glistening crowns, sparkling ornaments and stunning jewelry, all of which showcase the superb artistry of the Silla era.
186, Iljeong-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea, +82-54-740-7538
Get a look into the history of oriental medicine through this interactive museum, which is part exhibition, part experience center. The exhibition demonstrates the origin of oriental medicine in Yangnyeongsi, while the experience center invites visitors to learn about concepts such as eumyang-ohaeng (the five natural elements of positive and negative energy) and sasangchejil (four body types) through activities. Take a walk along the museum’s acupuncture trail or soothe your feet in a footbath of medicinal herbs. On days ending with one or six (except the 31st), a wholesale market takes place downstairs.
49, Dalgubeol-daero 415-gil, Jung-gu, Daegu, South Korea, +82-53-253-4729
Unlike most museums, which generally paint a picture of the past, Samsung d’light enables visitors to better imagine the role technology might play in our world in the next decade or so.
Instead of simply featuring how its products convey its vision, Samsung Electronics demonstrates how its devices and solutions are molding the future through a series of immersive activities. The “Sense” area, for example, lets them utilize gestures to interact with cutting-edge mirror displays, while the “Home of the Future” exhibition uses augmented reality to show how the “Internet of Things” will make everyday life more convenient and connected.
11, Seocho-daero 74-gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82-2-2255-2277
As the hub of South Korea’s textile industries, it’s no surprise that Daegu has its own museum dedicated to textiles and the past, present, and future of textile industries. At the DTC Textile Museum, visitors can get a close up look at how clothing and accessories, as well as the machines used to make them, have evolved over the years. Some parts of the museum feel more like an art gallery, as many of the works on display were actually crafted by fashion designers, such as the artwork entitled “Dancing Energy.” Created using small dots of fabric carefully pieced together, the work represents the feminine fantasy of beauty.
227, Palgong-ro, Dong-gu, Daegu, South Korea, +82-53-980-1004