The National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관

A friend and I went to the National Museum of Korea to check out some of their special exhibits. There tend to be two special exhibits that go in rotation at the National Museum, the two we saw were Discoveries from the Sinan Shipwreck 시안해저선에서 찾아낸 것들 which will be house until September fourth and Treasures from Afganistan 아프가니스탄의 황금문화 which will  be housed until the same date of September fourth.

The National Museum of Korea is big and easily accessible. With a front desk that offers help in a variety of languages including Korean Sign Language. There’s also outdoor exhibitions, a library, children museum, and the National Hanguel Museum all on the same grounds. It’s easy to access from Ichon Station exit 2 (by just following the signs to the museum) or via the blue 502 bus or 400 bus. The museum is free, only the Sinan Shipwreck required buying a ticket to see. There are also plenty of places to eat. We met my friend’s online friend at the NaMu restaurant for lunch.


I ordered the Bulgogi with Rice which was good, a little sweet. After lunch we went through most of the first floor of the National Museum of Korea which gave my new friend nightmarish flashbacks to history tests.


To me it was really interesting since it starts in the Paleolitchic period and goes through to the Joseon Dynasty, which is a really big time frame that American World History classes don’t touch on. Plus they house ancient jewels and explain just how old things that are still done today are, like the ondul. One of my favorite exhibitions was of metal type, the little tiny pieces of individual characters used for printmaking. I love print making and it was so cool to see so many old pieces of type, including the oldest in the world (that sadly was on display in such a way that I couldn’t get a decent photo of it)

There are 2 more floors of art and things from other countries but instead of visiting those we moved onto the special exhibits, stoppping by the Treasures from Afghanistan first, where we watched a movie from National Geographic in English with Korean subtitles about the excavation, loss, and rediscovery of these treasures. Then we explored the very packed exhibit. Most of the treasures were gold. A lot of gold. Afghanistan is another culture I don’t know much about so I was really surprised to see a lot of familiar things, like statues of greek gods and heroes. It was cool to see so many things thought lost that survived. There were signs requesting people not take photos.

After the Treasures from Afghanistan we to the building next door to see the Sinan Shipwreck which I read about on the train ride in from a newspaper clipping my friend gave me from the Korean Herald. The Sinan Ship wrecked during a storm in 1323 on it’s way to China from Japan. It wrecked near Korea and was found in 1975 by fishermen. The exhibition is in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the excavation. What blows my mind is that only about 4% of what they recovered was on display, which is astounding when you wander around. Because there is a lot. Thousands of ceramic plates, bowls, and cups in beautiful condition. Books, pieces of art, figurines, vases, it’s ridiculous how well preserved these items are despite having lived on the bottom of the ocean for over 650 years.

After wandering around the rescued treasure we made one last stop to visit the art section which was on the second floor next to some calligraphy.  There was a lot we didn’t see. We didn’t even make it to the third floor let alone more than a fourth of the way through the 2nd floor. The museum is good size and not easy to do in one day. There are also not a lot of interactive exhibits for kids, a lot of the children we saw looked bored or were running through the exhibits playing their own games. The children’s museum may be diffrent but we didn’t visit it. There is however plenty of English to read about most everything.

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