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Seoul Searching | Gwanghwamun Square.

It's almost autumn in Seoul, but I'm still not done with my Seoul Searching posts. There are still a few more places that I have yet to blog about starting with Gwanghwamun Square, which we visited last spring - the day after the South Korean presidential elections.
Yue meets King Sejong.
A national landmark located in the heart of Seoul, Gwanghwamun Square is a public open space which connects Gwanghwamun Gate, the main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace, to Cheonggye Plaza, which marks the starting point of Cheonggye Stream. Gwanghwamun Square is divided into six sections, with the statue of King Sejong as its focal point. He is one of Korea's most famous kings, and one of the only two Korean rulers honored with the appellation 'the Great'.
Hangul, the Korean alphabet.
King Sejong, who placed great emphasis in education during his reign, created the Korean alphabet, Hangul. This, and his other main inventions such as as the sundial, rain gauge, and celestial globe, are on display in front of his statue at Gwanghwamun Square.
Rain gauge.
Celestial globe.
Sun dial.
At the other end of the square, you'll find the statue of Admiral Yi Sun Shin, a Korean admiral and national hero whose naval victories were instrumental in repelling Japanese invasions of Korea in the 1590s. If you've seen the movie 'Roaring Currents', then you probably have an idea why Yi Sun Shin is a much revered figure in Korean history.
Yue meets Admiral Yi Sun Shin.
In front of his statue is the 12.23 Fountain, a symbolic fountain which honors the achievements of the brave admiral. The fountain commemorates the 23 battles he fought with 12 warships when he led Koreans to victory during the Imjin War. The water jet rises to a height of 18 meters along with 300 smaller jets, which symbolizes the battles he fought on the sea. In the summer, this fountain is opened to the public, allowing kids and even adults to play with the water.
Honoring the great Admiral Yi Sun Shin.
As we walked around Gwanghwamun Square, we discovered a door located behind King Sejong's statue. Apparently, this is the entrance to the exhibition hall and museum dedicated to both King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun Shin. Entrance to both exhibitions is free, with operating hours from 10 am to 9 pm, Tuesdays to Sundays.
Entrance to The Story of King Sejong.
And since Yue and I love museums, we made our way to the exhibition hall which is actually located underneath the statues, at the basement of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.
The Story of King Sejong.
More of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun Shin after the jump!
A temporary exhibit was on display along the passage leading to the main exhibition hall. Dubbed as 'Elections, The Making of Korea', the exhibit featured election paraphernalia and campaign materials from past elections, plus a virtual experience of the polling precincts in Korea.
Elections, the Making of Korea.
Yue and I were lucky to have chanced upon this exhibition, and to have witnessed the election of the new South Korean President, Moon Jae In. 
Campaign materials from the 1956 presidential elections.
Election paraphernalia from the new millennium.
VR experience of the polling precinct.
At The Story of King Sejong exhibition hall, we saw a variety of displays detailing the invention of Hangul, as well as King Sejong's scientific, artistic, military, and political contributions.
Human Sejong: an introduction to the life of King Sejong.
Songs of Flying Dragons, the first literary work written in Hangul.
The angbuilgu, meaning 'a sundial in the shape of a cauldron'.
'Cheonsang Yeolcha Bunyajido, an astronomical chart engraved in stone.

Bronze bells.

The Goryeosa, history of Goryeo.
A hwacha, or multiple rocket launcher.
The exhibition hall also includes a video theater, which features animated educational videos of King Sejong, a gallery showcasing the works of modern artists using Hangul as the subject matter, and a library where you can sit down, relax, and read a book. Most of the materials are printed in Hangul, though. 
Hangul Gallery.
At the library.
The Story of Admiral Yi Sun Shin, on the other hand, is an exhibition which uses digital technology to bring this great hero to life. The area is divided into six experience zones, commemorating his life, his accomplishments, and his devotion to his country and fellowmen.
Admiral Yi Sun Shin, at the entrance of the exhibition hall.
The admiral's War Diary.
Yi Sun Shin's military service scroll.
The Gwido, one of the eight items given to Admiral Yi Sun Shin by the Chinese emperor of the Ming dynasty. 
Yue learning more about Admiral Yi Sun Shin.
One of the key features of this exhibition hall is the Geobukseon, or the turtle ship, the most famous war vessel in Korean naval history. Named after its shape, the turtle ship is said to be the world's first ironclad battle ship.
Dragon's head at the bow.
The entrance to the turtle ship.
Rear end of the turtle ship.
View from another angle.
Although this replica has been reduced to 55% of the original size, the ship is still big and spacious enough for guests to board and row the oars.
Inside the turtle ship.
Yue's favorite part of the exhibition hall is 'The Seven Year History of Naval Warfare' which showcases a three-sided composite display of the admiral's naval battles and the tactics he employed.
The Seven Year History of Naval Warfare.
Yue watched the story of how the Imjin War began and was greatly impressed with how Admiral Yi Sun Shin won the Battle of Myeongnyang in which he led only 12 ships against the Japanese fleet with 330 vessels.
Yue's new hero, Admiral Yi Sun Shin. :)
There's also a separate 4D Theatre at the exhibition hall, which gives you a virtual experience of the naval battle, and a souvenir shop which sells fridge magnets, postcards, and the like.
The exit, located at the side of the Sejong Center building.
Now if you're into Korean dramas like me, Gwanghwamun Square might be familiar to you as one of the filming locations for IRIS, the 2009 spy/action series which starred Kim Tae Hee and Lee Byung Hun. 
IRIS Photo Zone near the Haechi Madang.
They even have a photo zone near Haechi Madang, the underground walkway that connects the station to Gwanghwamun Square. 
The steps leading to Gwanghwamun Square.
Haechi, the symbol of Seoul.
The entry section of Gyeongbokgung Palace's main gate, where Park Bo Gum did his famous 'Boombastic' dance.

To get to Gwanghwamun Square, take the subway to Gwanghwamun Station (subway Line 5), Exits 1, 2, and 8. Alternatively, you can alight at the City Hall Station Exit 3, or Gyeongbokgung Station, Exits 6 and 7. 

Gwanghwamun Square
Jiha 172, Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul

19 replies:

Erin S said...

My son is 9 and he is so fascinated with museums as well. He may become my little traveler as curious about cultures and history as he is

Agnes Vazhure said...

Wow! This looks like a great place to visit. I really like historical places, coz' we learn about there culture, beliefs and etc.

erica said...

South Korea has kind of been on my radar lately. I am finding out that it is quite the travel destination these days. Who knew? I think I might try to visit when we go to Japan next year. Thanks for the travel tips!

Scott said...

My dad spent a lot of time in Korea in the 70's. I hope to go someday - always wondered what it is like!

Rebecca Swenor said...

Gwanghwamun Square really does sound amazing to explore. The dragon head of the bow of the turtle ship looks amazing along with all the history. Thanks for sharing your amazing experiences and the history.

Humanities said...

South Korea in peace times would be a very interesting place to visit. Of particular interest to me would be the Gwanghwamun Square famous for the political elections held there. I would also like to see the various exhibits celebrating the Admiral Yi Sun Shin made famous for his naval victory over Japan. Indeed South Korea has a rich and varied history.

GiGi Eats said...

Visiting Korea is DEFINITELY on my list, not at the top, but on there! I really just want to go to every country during my lifetime though! ;)

Unknown said...

Gwanghwamun Square looks amazing. Especially the museum! That turtle ship is definitely interesting, and I know my son (who loves anything to do with boats/ships/etc) would love to see that up close.

kristy b said...

These are all amazing! I would love to see the 12.23 Fountain and the turtle ship. My kids would love those too!

Valdas Travel Video said...

An interesting place is definitely worth the attention. Maybe I've ever been there, and I'm starting to see my eyes.

Emily Fata said...

Gwanghwamun Square looks like such an interesting place to visit! I'd love to be able to see a lot of those artifacts myself one day. Seoul is definitely on my bucket list!

Amy Dunn (AmysAtlas) said...

Im moving to Seoul in November and im even more excited now after reading this! Sounds like such a great place to visit!

Lauren Ashley said...

I never really thought about going to Seoul before, it looks beautiful though. May need to add it to my want to do list.

Ali Rost said...

Such a fun tour to take the whole family to because you learn so much about Korea's history especially during King Sejong's time. I think it's awesome that there's so much more when you enter the hall, you can definitely make the most out of the day going around this place!

Adriana Lately said...

wow this is amazing and quite interesting.

Elizabeth O said...

Seoul through your eyes looks incredible and so enriched in history and culture. It seems like there is a lot to learn and would be a really interesting place to explore.

Preet said...

I really want to visit Korea, it is on my bucket list. What an amazing post, the pictures look great. I really like to visit historical places where I can know more about the history, culture, evolution of the place.

Rachel said...

I can't wait to travel far and wide with my kids. We are almost in the place where we will be able to do it.

Geraline Batarra said...

I've never been in that place but already heard and read so many good things about it. That place is really beautiful and historical that's why there's a lot of people repeatedly going back on that country and I hope I'll be given a chance to visit Korea someday!