Museum Day with Paul

On Monday I met Paul for our own little Museum Day. Unfortunately, we did not consider that the majority of museums (and palaces) are closed on Mondays. You’d think I’d remember this since I discovered the same thing the first day of my parent’s trip here back in 2007.

Frog-Sized Dead Cicada

Paul had two neat little books full of museums in Seoul. I’m hoping I can find a copy of those books muself at a tourism office. The only problem is that the entries were entirely in English with English names—which weren’t the Korean names in English. So when we needed to ask for directions, we had to try and descibe the place. Romanization of the Korean names, or Korean itself, would have been a great help. Still, we found three that were open and looked interesting and headed off.

At Tapdol (Pagoda) Park

First, we went to the Choonwondang Museum of Korean Medicine. Paul knew the woman who worked there, so we got a very personal tour. She gave it entirely in Korean and I was able to follow most of it, although there’s something about mercury I still don’t understand. Also, you can smoke traditional Chinese medicine using a bong waterpipe. Learn something new every day.

She showed us where practitioners make medicine and we got to sample some. It was old meets new to see men in lab coats and huge steel drums that encased clay pots and a heating element. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos.

We wandered through the city, had some lunch, and then headed off to the Museum of Korean Embroidery. We were running short on time, so we caught a cab. We had the driver call the museum to find out where it was located. He hung up, looked at us and said, “Dentist!”

Paul looked at me. I looked at him. Huh?

Turns out the museum was in the same building as a dentist’s office, and on the same floor. The museum was small, full of interesting books, and full of employees who didn’t even greet us or send us off with a goodbye. Stitch me unimpressed.


Finally, we went to The Paper Museum (which I think is run by a glue/paper/sticker company). I was really impressed by this place. On the first floor there was some modern art and it appeared to be done by the same person (the labels didn’t list the artist). I asked the guard if we could take photos, as long as we didn’t use a flash. His eyes grew large and he said, “Yes, yes!”

Whenever I ask permission to take photos, even (as was the case here) when there’s a sign saying not to, I am granted permission. This is why it ticks me off so much when other bloggers talk about “sneaking” photos. Either ask for permission or mind the signs.

After we were done with the first floor, the guard told us to go up to the third floor. In the stairwell there were examples of various paper folding and cutting methods, mostly don’t by students. On the third floor we found a lot of different paper products turned into art. It was very neat, and Paul and I spent quite a bit of time up there.

We also poked around on the fourth floor and found a stationary store that had far less cute plastic junk and far more hanji (traditional Korean paper) than the average stationary store.

I highly recommend visiting the museum. I’m hoping to take Mother and Sister there before I leave. It’s right off of Dongdaeipgu station, so it’s easy to get to, as well.