For pretty much every tourist, flying in to Korea means flying in to Incheon Airport, about an hour east of Seoul. My impression of airports is probably about the same as any other American. They're a hassle, they're expensive, they're out of the way, and while you have to get there early there's nothing to do at or near them.
Well, Incheon has a few of those things down quite well. It is a good bit out of the way (all major, modern airports are, I suppose), though the trains are very convenient to downtown Seoul. Food is a bit pricey, but souvenirs are unbelievably overpriced. And yes, there is that whole "Security" thing, and Customs and Immigration, though all three of those modern inconveniences are quickly expedited at Incheon.
But Incheon is a nice place to be!
Several restaurants and the free internet cafes are open 24 hours a day. There is a golf course and seven gardens located throughout the airport.
I went up to that lounge area because I had some more time to kill and I saw a sign for a museum. That museum turned out to be brief, but informative.
At the end of the museum, there are a few "hands on" experiences. I chose the paper rubbing and name writing using hangul characters. I tried on my own and was fairly close, though I probably should have asked for help to get it right! Oh well, next time.
It's simple and easy to do, which makes it fun! You don't have much opportunity to "customize" the box but I was okay with that - I'm good at procedures and directions. The best part: I did something fairly traditional, I got to experience something, and it was all free! Yes, free! They check your ticket to verify you have time and that you're actually leaving (you must be a foreigner) and give you the materials.
Other crafts projects include hanji making, Dancheong (painting), Najeon (mother of pearl work), making cell phone straps, fans, and square pincushions, and folk painting. Another blogger posted about painting and dressing traditional dolls and making woodblock prints. I'd love to try pretty much all of those!
In addition to the crafts, you might be able to try on traditional clothing and take a photo, or see a traditional music performance. You can also buy traditional goods made by master craftsmen.
Sure, the airport is the place you go to get away from somewhere. But I'll be sure to allow extra time on my next visit at the airport too!