Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Festivities at the Seoul Museum of History

The Seoul Museum of History is located in the Jongno area which is quite a hub of many attractions. Not only does this area have the Seoul Plaza that leads up to the grand palace, but also the site of many artistic attractions. For example, the Hammering Man sculpture by Jonathan Borofsky.

It's been a while since I passed this sculpture and it always reminds of how funny it is to be in Seoul. When I was in college I did an essay on Jonathan Borofsky's sculptures, but I never imagined I would be walking past one in Korea.

Chuseok festivities were happening around town and you had your pick of places to go. I chose the activities at the Seoul Museum of History, since it is one spot I haven't been to before.

In front of the museum were set up tents with traditional games to play and on the courtyard area more activities to participate in.

There were some children dressed in hanbok, but for the most part people came as themselves. There was a line forming for a free handout of tteok or rice cakes. I stood in line for a while, but since I have had tteok before I knew it wasn't anything really worth waiting for. (sorry)

Inside the museum things were cooler and a bit more quiet. I stayed on the first floor and I hope to get up to the other spaces in the future. Here there were two special exhibits, one of "Utdae" people who were poets. The other exhibit was a feature on the Rock Musical 'Line 1', which was meant to show people the history of this theater production.

The exhibit about the poets was set up in an interesting way with walls and panels that were like a maze. The highlight was some paintings and books that were meant to show the life back then.

The exhibition about the Rock Musical was very informative and also creatively interesting. I learned a bit more about the theater district of Seoul.

I went through the lobby and headed outside to a large grassy courtyard. Here people were with their families sharing songpyeon and other snacks.

Going up the stairs one is taken to the footsteps of the Gyeonghuigung palace.  Although beautiful and full of history the site itself seemed a little sad. However, I think if I came back when there were performances it would have been more delightful.

I heard some music playing in the distance so I headed back to the outdoor courtyard in front of the museum. Indeed, a musical ensemble was set up and were playing traditional Korean music. I loved seeing the variety of instruments.

I hope to come back and explore the museum more plus see what else is in the neighborhood, as I feel I haven't quite reached out enough. All together it was good to get out and enjoy the day off.


  1. I discovered Rock Musical Line 1 in 2008. It was an awesome, awesome experience. I must have seen it like 7 times. I took all of my foreign and Korean friends to see it.

    I have the script, in both Korean and in English (bought both!). Have the soundtrack too. That's how much of a fanboy I am.

    It was great because the music, story and acting made such a great package. They played ballads, heavy rock and whimsical songs.

    The story taught people a lot about current Korean issues in an approachable and unassuming way. The plight of the Chinese and North Korean immigrants, class difference, Korea's military regimes, Korea-Japan relations... and so much more.

    And you couldn't help but identify with the main character who, as a newbie in Seoul, would get easily lost in the complex Seoul metro.

    This musical is an ode to Seoul and to Korean people in general. It's a shame it's not playing now.

    (And how did I get to enjoy this so much? Because it played twice a week with English subtitles! This should be done with more, if not most local productions.)

  2. albith ~ thank you for such a great comment. I hope I can see it someday now that it sounds so awesome!

  3. But Ms. Iris-Wilibanks I love ddeok!!
    And if the most-consumed ones are too plain, there is such a great variety of types, i think hundreds, that you can try.


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