Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A Rainy Day at the National Museum of Korea

After arriving in Korea on Thursday evening, and spending a whole Friday observing classes at my school, I awoke on Saturday morning with the freedom to do whatever I wanted. Though I was still exhausted with jetlag, I was determined to dedicate what little free time I had to sightseeing. Since it was pouring with rain, I decided I'd better start with a museum, and what better museum for a newborn Seoulite to visit than the flagship museum of all Korean culture?

On the way to the museum I briefly saw one of Seoul's most famous sights, the Cheonggyecheon, a five-mile-long urban stream that opened to the public in 2005. We'll be seeing a lot more of this place throughout the year, as it intersects with many popular districts of downtown Seoul, and I also plan to walk the entire length of it when the weather gets warm again.

Close to the museum, I also passed through Yongsan Station, which had a temporary exhibition of local railway art.

The view from Yongsan Station:

I've noticed that when it rains in Seoul, pretty much everyone has an umbrella at hand.

The main entrance/exit to the National Museum of Korea.

The museum relocated to Yongsan District in 2005, the same year that the Cheonggyecheon renewal project was completed. Consequently, it has very shiny, new interiors of polished marble.

This is the Ten-Story Pagoda. Originally erected around 1348, around its base are scenes from the Chinese novel The Journey to the West, and around the central tiers are a number of Buddhas and bodhisattvas represented inside architectural settings minutely carved with roofs, rafters and balustrades.

From above:

A gilt-bronze incense burner of the Baekje era, circa 6th/7th Century

These are gigantic jar coffins, which were originally buried in pits with high earthen mounds during the 4th and 5th centuries. Many of them had gilt-bronze crowns, necklaces, swords and other treasures found inside, suggesting that the occupant was highly influential in the region.

A stone Zodiacal figurine (Monkey).

Korean Buddhas are especially chill. 

Here is a miniature work of the canopy suspended over the throne in Gyeongbokgung Palace, which I'll be visiting at some point during my year here. The throne of Joseon kings was normally ornamented with such a canopy and a backdrop painting of the sun, the moon, and the Five Peaks, which symbolises royal authority.

A horse/unicorn thing. Sorry, forgot to check out the plaque for this one.
The drizzly, autumnal view of Seoul from the museum. 

Another serene Buddhist relic.

View of the museum from the third floor.

I was pretty exhausted by the time I'd finished wandering all 3 floors, and had to go home to sleep for the rest of the day. I'll probably return when the weather gets warm again though, as I missed out on the pretty gardens that surround the building. For now though, the museum provided a great introduction to the history and culture of this land I know so little about. And it didn't cost a penny. Or a Won, I should say.

No comments:

Post a Comment