We took our first trip into Seoul this Saturday. First off, we had never attempted the subway up until that morning and we were very aware of that fact. But, I had read a little about it and so we were hoping to be able to fake our way through it. We had a couple of hiccups – mainly it took us a very long time to figure out anything – but we always ended up on the right train and only once ended up in the wrong place (and there were a few other people from Osan who ran into the same problem so perhaps it’s a common one?). I think I will do a post about the subway sometime soon, so more information to come.
Our first stop was the Korean National Museum. It is one of the largest museums in the world so we knew that we wouldn’t be able to do it all in a day so we attempted just the first floor which is the paleolithic era up until around the 16th century. It was really cool seeing the tools they developed and used and how similar it was to the things I had seen from very early North American civilization. I didn’t think I had preconceptions about what early civilization would have been like in Asia, but apparently that was not the case. I found myself very surprised at how similar the hand tools, pottery and weaponry was. I guess I expected that early human development would have varied a bit more than museum artifacts can show. But yes, it was very similar stuff.
My favourite part was the exhibit on knife shaped coins.
I had never heard of coins being anything but small and round(ish). How interesting to have them sword shaped. I suppose that speaks to the importance of warfare and/or self-defence of that particular culture.
Sandy’s favourite part was the art found inside a burial chamber/tomb. We were unable to get any pictures as it was too dim in the room where the reproductions were kept, but they were very beautiful. It was so interesting to see that early Korean peoples share the phoenix icon with many other ancient and current cultures in Europe and other areas of the world. Something else that stood out was the dragon icon which is more prevalent solely in Asia (to my understanding). Sandy suggested that that may be because of the plethora of dinosaur fossils found in this area of the world that would have been discovered by early humans and thus would have inspired the creation of myths to explain such remains.
We didn’t even finish the entire first floor and hope to get back soon to see the pottery and painting/ink drawings that Korea is famous for. A nice surprise was that the museum’s permanent exhibit has free admission year round and only for special exhibits is there a charge. Great!
Next we were off to Myong-dong, a shopping district in Seoul! But that will wait until our next post!