Have you ever been curious about the folk culture and history of a country? South Korea has one of the richest folk culture native to the country and the National Folk Museum of Korea will show you the best of it. The museum offers detailed descriptions and historic materials showing how the lifestyle of Korean people has evolved through time and helps you understand the country history / culture better.
Located within the palace of Gyeongbokgung in Jongro, one of the most historic areas in Seoul city, the museum is surrounded by a number of tourist attractions as well such as Insadong and Gwanghwamun so pack your tour with them on top of visiting the museum. But first things first, let's find out what the museum offers you.
The first exhibition hall is named History of the Korean People and provides the introduction of representative historic materials of everyday life that manifest Korean culture and history from prehistoric to modern times. The hall offer an extensive range of materials on the lifestyle of the people who lived in Korean peninsula, from the prehistoric time to the modern era and establishes the foundation of Korean culture and its legacy.
There are 5 sections within the hall ; From Nature into the Human Lives, Territorial Expansion, Enjoyment of Culture, Emergence and Growth of the Middle Class and Koreans seen through images.
The second hall presents how the lives of Korean people during the Joseon period (1392 - 1910) revolved around the agrarian life and annual cycle of the 4 seasons. You will be able to find out the traditional life styles of the time including occupations, diet, clothing, housing and crafts based on the seasonal agricultural customs.
The reason the exhibition is separated by four seasons is because each season in Korean peninsula is extremely distinctive from one another and people had to adapt a life style that best suits the characteristic of the season. Historically, Korean people have successfully figured out the most harmonious way to live with the natural phenomenon of the country. In addition to introducing the seasonal life styles of the people, the hall also provides a glimpse of Korean villages and market cultures.
The hall called Life Cycle of the Koreans displays the major life events of individual Koreans who were born in the upper social class during Joseon dynasty (1392 - 1910). The period was highly affected by Confucianism and therefore most materials displayed in the hall are closely related to the ideology.
If you have a brief knowledge about Confucianism, it'll be much easier to understand the exhibition. For example, in a Confucian culture, giving birth to a boy was extremely important since only men could carry on the family line. Also, the responsibilities for each gender were strictly separated where the women managed the household while men studied for the state examinations to obtain a government post.
The hall provides the life cycle of the Koreans, as the name implies, from the celebration of a new-born and its 100-day celebration as well as its 1st birthday, coming-of-age ceremonies of girls and boys, traditional marriages to memorial services for the deaths of parents.
Outside of the museum is a re-creation site of the 1960 ~ 1970's streets. Koreans went through Japanese colonial period and the independence in the 1950's, followed by Korean War right after. The time of 1960 ~ 1970's was when the country slowly started to recover from the destruction caused by the colonial period as well as the war. The street is realistically recreated, including coffee shops, tailor shops, restaurants, hair salons of the time.
Compare the street to today's streets you see around the country, you will realize how far the country has come and achieved in just a few decades.
Special exhibitions are also available from time to time and each theme is largely distinctive and offers unique contents of its own. Some of the previous exhibitions includes Life of Colors, History of Recycling, Rooster - Greet the Dawn (Celebration for the year of the rooster), Wisdom and Knowledge from the Elders and a lot more.
The museum provides a variety of educational classes that you can take part in. Around the Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) season in October, you can apply for Songpyeon (Traditional chuseok food) making class, pottery making class, Samulnori (Korean musical instruments) class and so on. The price for participation is pretty reasonable as well, around 3,000 KRW ~ 10,000 KRW depending on the class, plus some of the classes are free so check out the website for more details / applications.
National folk museum address : 37 Samcheong-ro, Jongro-gu, Seoul
- March ~ May : 09:00 ~ 18:00
- June ~ August : 09:00 ~ 18:30
- September ~ October : 09:00 ~ 18:00
- November ~ February : 09:00 ~ 17:00
- Friday and Saturday : 09:00 ~ 21:00
* Last admission is due an hour before closing.
* Closed on the 1st of Jan, Seol and Chuseok
Admission Fees : Free
* Additional charge for activities or Gyeogbokgung palace entry.
Information on renting of National folk museum audio guides
- Pre-recorded commentary explains the exhibits in the order of the tour and the movement path.
* How to use: The device is available for rent at the information desk (ID is necessary for the rental).
* Rental fee: 1,000 Won
Inquiries : +82-2-3704-3114
How to get to the museum
- Subway Line 3 → Anguk Station, Exit 1
- Subway Line 5 → Gwanghwamun Station, Exit 2
- Blue Bus : 109, 151, 162, 171, 172, 272, 401, 406, 601, 606, 704
- Green Bus : 1020, 1711, 7016, 7018, 7022, 7025, 7212
- City Tour Bus : 90 S Tour, 91 S Tour
* Visit the official website of the museum for more info.