June 22, 2019
Jung Il-woo is an ambassador of this museum. He attended the opening of an exhibit called “Goryeo: The Glory of Korea” last year in December.
The National Museum of Korea is the main museum of Korean history and art and a cultural organization that represents Korea. It was established in 1945, after Korea regained its independence from Japan. It started in the Joseon Government- General Museum at Gyongbokgung palace. Back then this “museum played a significant role in restoring the nation’s damaged cultural pride and correcting false historical images of Korea.” Cr. Official Museum Website.
If you want to read more about the history of the museum go HERE.
The museum was moved to a huge space in the center of Seoul, at the Yongsan Family Park next to Mt. Namsan. This area was referred as “Dragon Mountain” in ancient times, Yong means dragon and san, mountain. (Part of this space was used by the central command of the United States Forces stationed in South Korea to protect the country, later in 1992 the US Army returned part of the land to the government of South Korea and it became the Yongsan Family park.) “This museum is the sixth largest museum in the world in terms of floor space covering 295,551 square meters (3,180,000 sq ft.)” Cr. Wikipedia. It is also the sixth most visited museum in Asia. (Wikipedia, 2017)
This museum is free and opens everyday of the week! You only have to pay for the special exhibits in the Special Exhibition Gallery across from the Permanent Gallery.
The museum is divided into three floors… this is a map:
Cr. Official Website of the Museum.
When I visited this museum I was early… 9:30 AM, so my first visit was its wonderful outdoor space… I enjoyed it greatly! It was so beautiful and calm!
Wait! I forgot to mention how one gets here…
Two Subway lines have stops really close to the museum:
Line 4: Ichon Station, Exit 2
Line 6: Noksapyeong, Exit 2 (Five minute walk.)
I took line 4, and when I exited the station had a really futuristic wall… mural? It had many lights that changed… I thought it was cool, but when I think of planet Earth, and how it doesn’t need any more artificial lights I don’t think it’s cool at all. There are so many Eco Friendly murals they could have come up with… even using recycled materials… but here is a video:
When the mural ends you see this map of the museum:
I loved the look of the staircase going up… the light was so beautiful!
When you step outside… you are basically in a huge area where you can spot the museum in front of you… this is a video I made of it… it will make you feel like you are there…
…then you go up many…many steps!
And this is finally the museum:
This glass cylinder is the entrance to the permanent collection.
To the left of it there are more stairs, but it’s worth the view:
Yes! We are facing north to Nasam Mountain and tower!
Yes! Here is a video:
Pretty cool!!! I went down the stairs and walked along the wall of the museum where there were many ancient sculptures:
At the end… another view of the Nasam Tower:
After this I found a staircase that delivered me to the Pagoda Garden… but before I ventured in a huge gazebo like structure caught my eye. It contained South Korea’s National Treasure No. 2:
This is the pagoda garden, there were many pagodas, but his one seems to have been my favorite:
I made a short video of the garden… loved the sound of birds… of nature:
This is dragon falls:
There were what I believe to be big ‘Koi’ fish in the water… I made a video of a yellow one:
I was glad to have the time to enjoy these outdoor spaces…
Now… let’s go inside! I only visited the first floor of this museum and the Special Exhibit Gallery. The museum’s exhibits are displayed in order and form like a upside down U, so one can get a great sense of the history of Korea just by walking from room to room. I decided to discover on my own instead of following the maps’ highlights. In the end I saw some of them… but I think next time, I will follow the map… to make sure I see all the important pieces!
This is a map of the first floor in English, it has the silhouettes of the most important pieces:
Following is a selection of the artifacts I saw and their descriptions:
Room 105: Goguryeo Kingdom. To see the gallery via the museum’s VR go HERE.
Room 106: Baekje Kingdom. To see the gallery via the museum’s VR go HERE.
Room 108: Silla Kingdom. To see the gallery via the museum’s VR go HERE. (Don’t forget to click on the different cameras at the bottom!)
This crown coming up is one of the most important exhibits at this museum. It dates from the 6th century. You can read about this crown, HERE. (The museum’s official website has the story of some of its masterpieces!)
To see the next room, one crosses through the main hall of the museum. There standing before you is another national treasure of Korea impossible to miss: A ten story pagoda! So majestic!
The is the ten story pagoda from the Gyeongcheonsa Temple Site. It has the most amazing story! You can read it from the museum’s website HERE. It made me appreciate so much that it is there! It travelled so much… it’s a miracle that it is in such good shape today!
Room 111: Unified Silla Kingdom. To see the gallery via the museum’s VR go HERE.
Room 113!: Goryeo Dynasty I. To see the gallery via the museum’s VR go HERE.
Close to the following gallery is a very curious sculpture. It’s called “The Steele for Buddhist Preceptor Wollang.” It looks like this:
Of what I understand this is a sort of monument honoring the life of a buddhist preceptor… (a monk that is qualified to teach other monks.) I want to know why a turtle on the bottom… On my list!
Room 117-119: Joseon Dynasty I, II and III. I’m not sure which one these belong to. I’ll have to check next time I go!
What does this last piece remind you of?
… … … Yes!
Jung Il-woo holding the dragon pitcher celadon with the director of the museum as he became an ambassador of the museum! This is a photo of it from the database of the museum… it is Korea’s National Treasure 61. It is from the 12 century…
WOOw! Is right! This is the description form the Museum’s webpage:
“This pitcher is shaped like a mythical creature with the head of a dragon and the body of a fish. The eyes and frills of the dragon are vividly portrayed, and the body is densely covered with protruding scales, reminiscent of a real fish. With the side fins energetically spread and the tail fin raised, the ewer recalls traditional images of dragons bursting up from the water into flight. This pitcher exemplifies a special type of celadon vessel called a “sanghyeong,” which is shaped like a person, plant, or animal. Sanghyeong celadon vessels replicate the essential characteristics of the model naturally and succinctly through Goryeo’s unique aesthetics.”
I really want to see him do more for this museum as an ambassador… a documentary? but … I think it’s going to have to wait because as I’m writing this Il-woo posted that he’s taking us into the wild! What a great opportunity for him to be outdoors! Perfect time too… he won’t be cold!
To see more of the day Jung Il-woo became an ambassador, go HERE.
Now let’s go to the area where the inauguration and the exhibit Jung Il-woo attended took place. It’s actually in a separate area. For the exhibits here you have to pay. It is very cheap… $3! You exit through the glass dome door and walk across… there you’ll see probably the promotional banner of the exhibit taking place. When I visited it looked like this:
The exhibit was called “Five Hundred Arhats of Changnyeongsa Temple Site. Yeongwol: reflection of our hearts.
In Buddhism, an Arhat, or “nahan” in Korean , is someone who has attained enlightment. This is from the brochure:
I loved the way the exhibit was set up… a huge room and you felt yourself among them. They had such sweet faces…
These photos are from the museum and the media:
On the floor there were words… some in English:
I loved this phrase:
“I’ll tell you a secret. It’s very simple. You can see clearly with your heart only.”
It is so full of wisdom… so true. I also found the same message in the brochure:
Then there was another room set up with many, many! Speakers and arhats. In the middle of the room there was an ink well…
At first I didn’t see much of the point of the installation as it was very quiet… but as I read the brochure I understood its point:
Well this concludes this post about The National Museum of Korea. I hope you enjoyed it! Of all the museums I place it at number one… the one not to be missed!
I absolutely delighted being in this museum… I saw many things that I had read about… the history of Korea became much clearer in my head. And as I walked towards the exit this engraving caught my eye… and it made me think of Il-woo.
I hear him in my heart so clearly…