People say that if you are curious about the history of a nation, you should go to a museum. With its long history, Seoul has a number of museums, scattered throughout the city, that present visitors with a clear image of the city’s history and charms them with its unique characteristics.
Seoul City Wall is a fortress wall that surrounds the heart of Seoul. If you would like to learn about the past and present of this remarkable wall, built in 1396, you need to go to Seoul City Wall Museum. It can be found along the Sunseong-gil walking path of Seoul City Wall, which begins at Heunginjimun Gate (known as Dongdaemun Gate) and ends at Dongdaemun City Wall Park. After walking up two flights of stairs with your back to the city wall and entering the exhibition hall on the third floor, you will see the entire history Seoul City Wall, including its birth, trials and tribulations, and restoration—stretching out in front of you.
Another interesting museum is Eunpyeong History Hanok Museum, which showcases cultural contents related to traditional Korean houses, called hanok, and a number of cultural and historical relics as well as the development of Eunpyeong New Town. The permanent exhibition facilities consist of Eunpyeong History Hall, which outlines the history of the Eunpyeong area and displays the relics excavated during the development of the New Town, and the Hanok Exhibition Hall, which showcases real hanok, including their construction process, the science behind their design, and their eco-friendly qualities.
Traditional Korean medicine, known as hanbang, is the subject of the Choonwondang Museum of Korean Medicine, where you can learn about the vibrant, active history of traditional Korean medicine over the last seven generations, since its emergence in 1847. Housing a wide range of items, the Choonwondang Museum of Korean Medicine has held a variety of exhibitions since it first opened in 2008 with the goal of sharing with its visitors knowledge on the past, present, and future of traditional Korean medicine as well as the city of Seoul.
On June 26, 1949, three loud gun shots were heard at Gyeonggyojang House, a historical site in Seoul, and a great man in the history of Korea fell. A living, breathing piece of Korean history, Gyeonggyojang House was the building used by the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea and the building where Baekbeom Kim Koo was assassinated.
As a politician and independence movement activist, Kim Koo participated in the organization of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea and was active in several organizations, including the New People’s Association (Sinminhoe) and Korean Patriotic Society (Hanin aegukdan). Elected as the premier of the Provisional Government, Kim emphasized the solidarity of the Korean people and persistently advocated the independent unification of Korea. He dedicated his life to Korea until the moment of his death, and still remains in the hearts of Koreans as a leader of the people.
Now, Seoul Metropolitan Government has restored Gyeonggyojang House, which had been renovated and its appearance changed over the years, and turned it into an exhibition space that provides an overview of the history of the Korean government.
Built in 1938 by Choi Chang-hak, who amassed wealth in the mining industry during the Japanese occupation of Korea, Gyeonggyojang House became the office building for the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea upon the government’s return to Korea in 1945, as well as the residence of Premier Kim Koo and other major officials. Following Kim’s assassination in 1949, Gyeonggyojang House housed the Chinese and Vietnamese consulates but was used as a hospital starting in 1967. During this time, the entire building was turned into a hospital. Now, in the restored Gyeonggyojang House, visitors can learn about the trials and tribulations of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea through the relics, videos, and other materials on display as well information search services.
Infused with a unique Korean sensibility, Gahoe Museum houses a variety of folk paintings and talismans, giving visitors a glimpse into the lives of ordinary citizens and the dreams of the sincere and honest common folk of Korea. Also, the traditional hanok exhibition hall presents the remains of the lives of ancient Koreans in an interesting and entertaining way.
Opened on the fourth floor of the Euljiro Annex of Seoul City Hall, which is a historically and architecturally significant building in Korea, Grevin Seoul Museum is the first wax museum in Asia. A popular attraction for Asian tourists from China, Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand, Grevin Seoul Museum has now become known as the best wax museum in Asia.
It is a unique place where people can meet major Korean celebrities, singers, and athletes.
Museums dedicated to locks and straw-based handcrafts are rather unusual, even to Koreans. However, Seoul’s Lock Museum passionately showcases the science and beauty of locks, making it one of the attractions in Seoul that visitors must not miss.
Also, the Museum of Korea Straw and Plants Handcraft displays a wide variety of unique goods made of straw. Straw and plants have been widely used by humans since the beginning of humanity. In the past, people built houses with straw and plants, without using special tools, and made clothes, created farming tools, and tied up goods and transported them using straw and plants as well.
In addition to the museums introduced above, there are numerous museums throughout Seoul, each capturing and preserving a unique piece of this city and its history. By taking a tour of these museums, you will find yourself drawn into a closer, more intimate relationship with Seoul.