Korea is a country with a myriad of customs and traditions. It is considered beneficial to the country as a whole if the country’s tradition gets widely known around the world by foreigners. The Korean National Folk Museum is strategically placed right next to Korea’s tourism hotspot, the Gyeongbokgung palace. Also it is free. All of these factors add up to a better accessibility of the Korean cultural heritage for the foreigners who visit Korea. I visited the National Folk Museum of Korea on an extra-curricular history field trip that I participate in regularly to see how the museum represented our culture and what kind of exhibits were open.
|[photo courtesy : Lee Hyeonchul]
|[photo courtesy: Lee Hyeonchul]
|[photo courtesy: Lee Hyeonchul]
The first thing that came into my sight was the sheer number of foreign visitors. There were tourists of all nationalities and it gave me a sense of pride in our culture. The fact that all these foreigners had interest in our traditions made me swell with delight and pride. The exhibits were full of all sorts of artifacts and realistic replicas that gave the impression of experiencing Korean culture directly. There were life sized replicas of Korean traditional houses, kitchens, and traditional tools. As you can see in the picture above, there are realistic looking mannequins and food models. This way, we can get the most accurate picture of our predecessor’s lives. There were also stations where people can draw Chinese characters on sand and listen to real Korean instruments. Every exhibit had a theme related to the everyday lives of the Korean ancestors, and they were all designed to be as foreigner/children friendly as possible by making use of activities and replicas.
|[Photo of me interviewing the visitors from Vietnam, photo courtesy: Lee Hyeonchul]
I interviewed two foreign visitors from Vietnam who had finished looking around the museum. (Permission was given to take a picture of them and put it in an article)
Q: What kind of significance do you think this museum has?
A: "It was very interesting. I never really knew a lot about Korea. All I knew was that Korea is good at making phones. But it seems that the culture of Korea is very unique in its own way. Through the exhibits, I saw a lot of Korean food, housing, clothing, and education of the past."
Q: What makes this museum unique?
A: "Well I haven’t been to many museums in Korea yet. But this museum is very special in my opinion because of its use of real looking replicas of Korean history and culture. In some exhibits there were places where you could actually experience traditional Korean games. You could also go into real-life sized Korean traditional houses. I brought my daughter with me, and she seemed to have a lot of fun."
Q: In what ways do you think the museum can improve?
A: "There really isn’t a lot to be changed about this place. It is roomy, clean, and has a lot of exhibits. If I had to make one complaint, it would be the order in the exhibits. In Vietnam, the museums are very orderly and there are many rules. However, here, there are children running around everywhere making a lot of sound. Other than that, this museum is very good."
Q: Do you think that you should have to pay a fee to enter a museum like this?
A: "Well, if fees are paid, you might have more capital to spare to improve the museum. So the museum might be able to provide people with better exhibits. But if this happens to citizens and foreigners like me, the museum may not be as attracting. In the end, to make your country’s culture better known, the zero-fee policy seems to be the preferable method in my opinion."
Every country has its own unique culture and tradition. This kind of museum that focuses on the culture of a nation can demonstrate the nation's pride in its traditions. My experience at Korean National Folk Museum was something to remember the importance of my country’s folk customs and culture.
Yeoksam middle school
Andrew Sung firstname.lastname@example.org
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