A visit to the Korean National Assembly, Seoul

Government seems to go together with tourism in many countries. The UK has Big Ben at Parliament, and America has the Capitol Building. And of course, there are houses - the White House, Buckingham Palace, the Forbidden City, and Japan and Seoul's palaces.
The Korean National Assembly is the Capitol in Seoul, but with a short relatively nondescript history in a smaller country, this building is one that often gets passed over for more exciting stops around town... like the DMZ.
 On my visit, there were protestors outside the front, near where I took the first photo. There were hundreds of riot police on hand just in case, though I don't think anything serious ever happened. The entrance is actually around the back. It was surprisingly easy to get in, but then again I'm a Westerner looking for the museum. I doubt I'd get anywhere close to the assembly building itself without being on the tour bus.
 There are frequent tours, but time was short and I arrived after the last tour departed, so I just wandered around the museum for a little bit. The displays teach a bit about how the Assembly works and give a bit of a history lesson.
 There are several diplomatic presents in one room; these are quite beautiful and it's interesting to see what goodies each country provided.
 Important stamps or seals. These serve as signatures of sorts, and each one should be relatively unique to the holder, especially if you're a very important person. Japan has a similar system, using round stamps called inkan or hanko. For common people, they are probably fairly similar from person to person sharing the same family name. Mine is unbelievably simple!
 There's a mock office where you can take pictures at the speaker's desk.
 This scene represents the first Assembly meeting, I believe.
 Let us come to order! The museum/visitor's center also has a special exhibition hall, promotional film screening theater, and a souvenir shop. They gave me a free notepad when I visited, which I was very surprised to receive! It has the logo of the national assembly on it.

Access is via subway Line 9; get off at National Assembly Station and take exit 6. Facing the building, head right and follow the fence around the corner to the entrance to the Memorial Hall. It's not very well signed but it's basically the first available entrance.

The grounds themselves might be open to visitors; websites have mentioned the library, a nice pond in front of the library, a traditional style house in the garden, and the office building.

The visitor's center is open daily 9:00-5:00, and tours are given weekdays. Tours aren't given when Parliament is sitting or if there are security concerns. Admission is free. I would like to take a tour of the building itself sometime. On my visit, walk-up tours were possible for very small groups (mainly solo visitors like myself) but you should email (visitor@assembly.go.kr) or call (+82-2-788-3656, 3664) at least three days in advance now to make a reservation.

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