The National Folk Museum of Korea displays the culture and folk history of the Korean people from
prehistoric times to the end of the Joseon Dynasty. The museum is situated in the precinct of
Gyeongbokgung (Palace) which is a typical palace of the Joseon Dynasty. It holds a variety of
seasonal exhibitions and events each year alongside a permanent exhibition. Each year more than
two million visitors come to visit and explore the roots of the Korean life style.
Established in 1945 as the National Museum of Ethnology, the current museum building was
remodeled and reopened as the National Folk Museum of Korea in 1993. Since its establishment
the museum has dedicated itself to studying and researching the folk history of Korea, and
collecting artifacts from different Korean regions in order to pass on an insight into the lifestyle and
culture of Koreans. The museum achieves this by offering visitors various seminars, exhibitions,
performance art, concerts and hands-on activities. Thus, visiting the National Museum of Korea is a
gateway to a deep understanding of the life and culture of the Koreans people.
Exhibition Hall 1 showcases the folk history and culture of Korean people through displays of
everyday objects from pre-historic times to the present. The exhibition is divided into 4 categories
chronicling the history of everyday life in Korea; exploring a range of topics such as how humans
relate to nature, and enjoy culture, to territorial expansion.
Exhibition Hall 1
Exhibition Hall 2: Korean Way of Life
Exhibition Hall 2 displays agricultural life during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). By looking at a
range of traditional objects such as a spinning wheel, tableware, ceremonial and decorative items,
visitors can imagine Korea in the past. The hall has successfully reproduced a marketplace as a
place social gathering, with businesses, entertainment, and festivals going on. The exhibition also
illustrates traditional village life revolving around the cycle of seasons.
The Exhibition Hall 2
Exhibition Hall 3: Life cycle of Koreans
Exhibition Hall 3 illustrates the life cycle of Koreans from birth to death in the Joseon Dynasty. The
exhibition displays Korean social idealism and traditional costumes by tracing an upper class man’s
life. The show allows visitors to learn about the key role of upper class men and women in relation
to their family and household affairs, as well as showing their functions in society. There are on
display many examples of social and cultural ceremonies directly reflecting the common law and
state ideology of Koreans such as : The first born son’s obligations (carrying on the family line and
living with his parents); Samnunsang, the tradition of mourning for three years after your parents
have passed away, ancestral rites and so on. There is also information on birth and death
ceremonies and rites.
The outdoor exhibition
There are displays in the outdoor exhibition area at the museum that show an exact duplicate of a
1970’s Korean market street, with a café, barber shop, and comic book shop. This gives visitors a
vivid image of a city street in 1970’s Korea, and its development.
Arts and crafts classes
A view of visitors attending a traditional knotting class
The museum allows visitors to have a real experience of Korean cultural life through various
educational programs. There are two main courses, craft making classes and traditional performing
arts classes which are open to anyone who wants to attend. It gives visitors a chance to gain a
better understanding of Korean traditions, and the classes are great fun.
A children’s museum
There is a children’s museum next to the National Folk Museum of Korea. The museum gives
children a great opportunity to attend various hands-on activities related to traditional Korean
culture. It appeals to children with various model toys and miniatures, as well as films and videos
aimed at making them understand and value the past. Setting up Charye-sang (an ancestor
memorial service table) and Dol-sang (traditional first birthday party table), and dressing up a doll in
traditional costume and the Gonu game (similar to chess) are the most popular hands-on activities
A view of the children’s museum exhibition hall
Traditional performing arts
An exhibition of traditional performing arts is held every weekend in order to introduce aspects of
Korean cultural heritage and traditional Korean culture to visitors. There are two main types of
performance, a Saturday performance and seasonal open performances (in spring and autumn).
Saturday performance: January to December 3:00 pm on every SaturdaySunday open performance: April to June and September to October 2:00 on every Sunday
The main lobby of the museum
An exhibition of the traditional wedding ceremony with modeling dummies