Seoul Museum of History, Korea

Sometimes, museums just pop up in front of you.

Somehow I wasn't aware of this museum, located almost right next to the Korean National Police Heritage Museum. It opened in 2002, but it either wasn't listed or I overlooked it in my guide book while picking out places to visit in Seoul. Yes, I saw the Agricultural Museum and the Police Museum, but not the local history museum.
 I'm glad I saw it and had a little free time that afternoon, because it turned out to be quite a nice museum. It starts with some early history, including some nice historical artwork.
 There are several dioramas, including what must be a model of Seoul during the Daehan Empire - possibly Jongno.
 Korean museums love small models with lots of interesting details, like this pair carrying their load of wood into town.
 Some exhibits are larger, including this recration of a market stall.
 The museum is divided into five chronological areas, starting with the Joseon Dynasty, moving on to the Daehan Empire, Japanese control, growth after World War II, and finally modern Seoul. The exhibits have decent English signage.

Not everything has explanations in English, but almost everything in the permanent exhibition has English titles, as you can see from this collection of smaller dioramas relating to the occupation period:
 Laundry by the Stream.
 and Pyeonghwa Cafe. You can usually see the street scenes on one side and inside the buildings on the other.
 The modern section has a lot of great exhibits, including some recreated environments. THis is a small apartment.
 I believe they took the entire restaurant here and moved it into the museum. Seoul grew insanely fast after the Korean War, and the museum looks at the good and the bad related to that growth. Of course, the museum tells it with a mostly-happy ending, showing a futuristicly designed layout of the current city.
It started to snow just as I was leaving the museum, which at the time was quite nice! Seoul gets a good bit of snow in the winter - you may or may not like that.

Admission is free and the museum opens at 9:00 daily except Monday. It closes at 20:00 on weekdays, and 19:00 on weekends and holidays (18:00 on weekends and holidays November-February).

Access is fairly easy from the subway Line 5. The closest stop is Gwanghwmun; take Exit 7 and walk straight until you see the museum above. From Line 5's Seodaemun Station, take Exit 4 and walk straight as well; you'll pass the police museum on this route. Lines 1, 2, and 3 also stop nearby. The museum's website has pretty good English information.

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