Classes have started and so I have begun to adjust to my official schedule and studying. This week I was able to go to the National Hangul Museum, National Museum of Korea, and the I-Park Mall, which are all located in Yongsan, Seoul.
The National Hangul Museum is a museum built telling the story of the creation of Hangul, its books and writings, and contains audiotapes and videos for anyone who wants to learn Hangul. The second floor also consisted of a Children’s Museum, a Special Exhibit, and a digital room to teach you how to write properly and the names of different countries in Korean. Overall, it was easy to navigate! Most of the writings were translated into English, though I do suggest going with a Korean-speaker because the historical timeline of Hangul was not translated. I, especially, enjoyed going over the different keyboards, and typewriters that has been used throughout the history of the Korean language. It was interesting to see how it constantly involved and changed. We ended our tour with the gift shop, which was small, cute, and even offered Korean workbooks!
In the same plaza as the National Hangul Museum, is the National Museum of Korea. The National Museum of Korea is a museum demonstrating the history of Korea and their many artifacts. From the outside, there is also an amazing view framing Namsan Tower. This museum is enormous. The first floor is arranged as a timeline throughout history, ending with the famous Joseon Dynasty. Everything in the museum has an English translation, however, there are a lot of artifacts in every section and a lot of rooms to work your way through the timeline. That being said, my friends and I only made it through one-fourth of the museum before deciding to go get lunch and head over to the I-Park for the last few hours of our day.
Lunch consisted of 닭개장, which is a type of spicy Korean chicken soup. It was amazing, not too spicy, and warmed my heart in the way chicken soup is supposed to. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants something that is definitely Korean but also reminds them of home a little too.
And our last location for the day before heading home was the I-Park Mall. The nice thing about the I-Park Mall is that all employees spoke English. That being said, I felt that some of the objects were also a little overpriced. This mall is gigantic and divided into a fashion, living, and food section. We made it through four floors of the fashion section, which is much less divided than the stories in the U.S. It is not so much that every store has their block but more so that every store has their individuals open-style sections. I had heard about a Totoro statue in the mall, so we made our way to the living section, where there is a gigantic bookstore that has an entire section dedicated to My Neighbor Totoro. It was amazing and I got to fulfill a dream I had as a child to take a picture with Totoro. The bookstore very nice and had multiple sections for people to sit down and read. Though, it could get quite noisy, so I would not recommend doing so. The mall also consists of a two-floor supermarket, which is located at the basement, so we could grab some supplies before walking over to the train station, connected directly to the mall, and taking a train back to Chuncheon.
Overall, I recommend all these places, but I do not recommend going to them all at once. The only attraction we managed to complete was the National Hangul Museum. I highly recommend starting with the National Museum of Korea, then going to the National Hangul Museum, and making your way through I-Park Mall on a separate day. There is a lot to see in these three locations and not enough time in one day to do so!