CONTRIBUTED BY CHRISTINE BRUNS
Like most visitors to Seoul, we had previously made the trek downtown to see Gwanghwamun Square and Gyeongbokgung Palace – both beautiful and definitely worth the trip. On a rainy Saturday, my husband and I were looking for something to do that would be fun for our little guy but would still satisfy our desire to see some more of Korea’s history. Since I had just read some great books from the Korean Spirit and Culture Promotion Project, we settled on returning to Gwanghwamun Square to see the museums hidden beneath the two memorial statues. It was perfect – not far from the subway and out of the rain!
Above ground, as you approach the square from the City Hall or Gwanghwamun Stations you see the statues of Admiral Yi Sin-Sun and King Sejong “The Great”.
The entrance to the museum is just behind King Sejong’s statue – easy!
We followed the signs and entered the first section, dedicated to King Sejong. He was the 4th king of the Joseon Dynasty (reigning from 1418-1450) and was responsible for the creation of Hangul (the Korean alphabet). The displays throughout the museum also shared information about how he influenced advances in politics, the arts, and science.
There were some great interactive screens and a special area for foreigners to try their hand at Hangul. All three of us gave it a go – can you guess which one was done by my 4 year old? He took some artistic license with his name.
We stopped for a quick snack break at the cafe and gift shop, which adjoins the 2 museum sections. It has a simple menu and some cool Korean gifts and souvenirs to choose from.
Next up was the portion of the museum dedicated to Admiral Yi Sun-sin – a naval commander who served Korea during the 1590s, was undefeated in his 23 battles at sea, and is credited for the creation and use of the Kobukson or “Turtle Ship”.
This portion was my son’s (and husband’s) favorite area! There is a large replica of the Turtle Ship that you can walk through, artwork and displays of the time, and a section of interactive games, including rowing, building a ship, and using canons in battle.
Closed on Mondays
Tuesday-Sunday, 10:30 – 22:30
(last admission 22:00)
Gwanghwamun Station (Subway Line 5), Exit 2, direct access from station
City Hall Station (Subway Line 1, Exit 4) walk straight towards Gwanghwamun
Jonggak Station (Subway Line 1), Exit 1, walk straight towards Gwanghwamun
Gyeongbokgung Palace Station (Subway Line 3), Exit 6, double back and walk towards Sejong-ro and the square