I’ve now been in Korea for a little over 2 weeks. Finally having overcome my jet lag, travel fatigue, a nasty fever, and general laziness, I’m now writing about my holiday. Yay for procrastination!
A few days ago I had the chance to visit the National Museum of Korea (국립중앙박물관). One of the largest museums in Asia, and 8th largest in the world, it has an impressive permanent collection of over 20,000 artifacts found in the Korean peninsula and its surrounding areas from 8,000 BCE onward. Oh, and did I mention that entrance to the permanent collection is free for everybody?
To get to the museum, you can take the subway to Ichon Station, where you can then go through a designated underground passage straight to the museum grounds. Nearby is also the National Hangul Museum, which celebrates the creation of the Hangul alphabet by King Sejong the Great. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to go there this trip, but maybe another time?
Once inside the museum, you can either rent PMP or MP3 devices that offer helpful explanations of the exhibits for 3000 Won and 1000 Won (respectively), or take advantage of guided tours that are offered in Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese (non-Korean tours may have to be booked in advance).
It was fascinating to see how the history of the various kingdoms of the Korean peninsula over time shaped Korean culture and aesthetics, from the import of Western glass goods through the Silk Road, to the establishment of Buddhism as the state religion and the ensuing Indian and Chinese influences on art and architecture.
There were also numerous National Treasures on display, such as this gold belt buckle from Seogam-ri, Pyeongyang, which is regarded as one of the finest metal artifacts excavated in Korea.
And now for ALL the photos…
Unfortunately for us, we were “only” there for about 5 hours before the museum closed. And we didn’t even get to see everything in the permanent exhibit, not to mention the visiting exhibit (we didn’t buy tickets for that though). So if you plan on visiting this museum, which I strongly suggest you do, make sure you reserve plenty of time to explore the displays and the museum grounds.
The museum grounds also contains a Korean restaurant, a pond, a pavilion, a cafe, and a small garden where the museum grows plants that were traditionally used by people of the Korean peninsula to dye their clothing, which was fascinating.
I will be playing catch-up for the next 2 days with blogging, and then I will be travelling to Taiwan for 4 days. I hope to be able to share my journey with you then as well!