As a Korean culture lover, I find it interesting to read and see different aspects of Korean culture, but it’s even more fun to get some hands-on experience. In this post, I’d like to share information on some places in Seoul in which you can get Korean cultural experience.
Seoul Global Cultural Center (서울글로벌문화체험센터)
If you have been to Myeongdong, you might have been to the Seoul Global Cultural Center which is located on the 5/F of M Plaza. Most tourists may regard it as a tourist information centre to get some travel-related information. However, this is also a centre providing Korean cultural programs, which are not just limited to trying out hanbok. There are also classes for Korean traditional handicrafts & painting, K-pop dance, K-food cooking, and K-beauty make-up. You can check out the class schedules at its website. You can also get a glimpse of the Seoul Global Cultural Center by watching this video.
Taekwondo is the national martial arts of the Koreans – you may refer to my blog post on taekwondo for more details. If you want to get some taekwondo experience, Kukkiwon is a must-go place for you. It is the official taekwondo organisation established by the South Korean Government, and is regarded as the World Taekwondo Headquarters. It also operates the World Taekwondo Academy through which courses are offered to train taekwondo masters and referees. There are about 5,000 artifacts relating to taekwondo on display to help you better understand the history and development of taekwondo. There is also a free 1-hour taekwondo performance at 5 p.m. on weekdays, and after the performance, visitors may try breaking the wooden boards like the taekwondo masters and take photos.
Kukkiwon is within 5 minutes’ walk from Exit 12 of the Gangnam subway station. For more details, you may visit the Kukkiwon website. You can have a quick tour of the Kukkiwon by watching this video. If you want to watch a demonstration by the Kukkiwon team, please click here.
Korea House (한국의집)
Korea House offers a variety of hands-on programs in a traditional atmosphere. You can taste the Korean traditional cuisine (including the royal dishes) and watch traditional music and dance performances. You can also participate in experience programs like making traditional Korean masks, playing traditional percussion instruments and making kimchi and bibimbap. It is within 5 minutes’ walk from Exit 3 of Chungmuro subway station. For more details, you may visit its website. Also you can have a glimpse of the Korea House by watching this video.
Namsangol Hanok Village (남산골한옥마을)
If you want to have a closer look at the daily lives the people of traditional Korea, you should visit the Namsangol Hanok Village. Here you can find 5 restored traditional Korean houses, a pavilion and a pond. The 5 restored houses are modeled on the traditional houses in the Joseon period (1392-1897) for social classes ranging from peasants to the aristocrats and have furniture and antique items inside to help visitors understand the daily lives of the people of that period. You can also try out traditional games like seesaw jumping, arrow throwing and traditional board game. There is also a traditional wedding ceremony performance during weekends. You can also try making some traditional Korean handicrafts like hand mirrors, mini totem poles, etc. It is within 5 minutes’ walk from Exit 3 or Exit 4 of Chungmuro subway station. Watch this video to have a quick tour of the Namsangol Hanok Village.
Next time you go to Seoul, apart from sightseeing, you can also go to the above-mentioned places to get some first-hand Korean cultural experience.
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Seoul Metropolitan Government, Seoul: Official Tourist Guide