The Seoul Museum of History is located near Gyeonghuigung (경희궁) near Gwanghwamun Station (광화문역).
Seoul remains an important city ever since the Joseon Empire came into existence. It is for this reason that historians sought to preserve the history of this city. The museum has a permanent exhibition hall narrating the story of Seoul, ever since its inception in 1392. It is exciting to see how the city experienced such highs and lows throughout its history. There is much to learn in terms of how far Korea has come from its imperial glory and subjugated past. The journey through time helps us relive the drama that took place in days of yesteryear. Making use of photographs from the 1950s and 1960s, the museum attempts to reimagine how Seoul’s landscape changed entirely.
The Seoul Museum of History’s exhibition hall is divided into five zones. The first zone deals with the Hanyang (한양) period from the Joseon (조선) era. Seoul was originally established as the city of Hanyang, the capital at the time. An actual port was constructed outside the city. The basic neighbourhoods that existed are preserved in a miniature map. Bukchon (복촌), currently famous for the Bukchon Hanok Village, used to house high-ranking government officials in Joseon times. The second zone deals with the period in which the Joseon king declared Korea to be the Korean Empire. The empire was being exposed to foreign influences at this point. While globalization reached the doors of Korea, the Korean people sought reforms to limit this influence.
From Hanyang, one travels to the Japanese occupied Gyeongseong (경성) in the third zone. One witnesses how the former Joseon era glory of Korea was stripped away as the people were subjugated. This submission went on to spur a resistance movement focused on achieving independence for the Korean people. The fourth zone displays Seoul as it was during the Korean War and after liberation. From 1945 till 2002, many of the important events that took place in and around Seoul are recorded here. From the ashes of the Korean War, appears a city that has seen record development in the last seventy years. As development and globalization interacted with the Korean people, their lifestyles experienced great changes. The housing scenes that are displayed in many areas give off the same feelings as does watching the drama Reply 1988 (응답하라 1988).
At the very end is the fifth zone. It consists of a large model of the city of Seoul that is displayed to scale. It is a bird’s eye view of what the city looks like.
Seoul Museum of History – Surroundings
The Seoul Museum of History is itself a very spacious building situated among immense greenery. A visit to the area is very visually pleasant. All the foliage serves as an escape from the busy and chaotic city life. The Gyeonghuigung Park (경희궁공원) has an array of unique trees and bushes for those interested in gardening. Just around the corner from the museum is the embassy of Oman. It stands out among all the other offices because of its architecture. The traditional Islamic architecture with its intricate latticework offers an entirely different building design from what is common in Seoul. Otherwise, the area contains many offices belonging to the various newspapers in South Korea.
There is also a very cute coffee shop nearby selling really good brewed coffee. It goes by the name of Coffeest. Its interior is rather comfortable as it contains many books. After touring the museum, you should definitely go grab a cup of coffee at this shop.