The National Folk Museum of Korea

on an extra sunny day, cloudless of which, i trodded over to the National Folk Museum of Korea located to the NorthEast side of Gyeongbok-kung Royal Palace. Inspired by either the movie, ‘불꽃처럼 나비처럼’ based on the 조선시대, which I watched the night previously, or the irresistible call of the museum seeing as it was FREE to the public, I went, and was utterly impressed by the technologically sophisticated and welcoming atmosphere of the place. it’s very educational and well organized. Even on a Wednesday afternoon, the place was packed constantly with Chinese and Japanese tourists and their loud tour guides, and not to mention the endless line of kindergarten and elementary school troopers that stormed in and out of the museum halls, positively thinking-bringing the folk museum to life. loud and boisterous.

amongst the impressive array of artifacts displaying past Korean’s lifestyles, there was definitely an undercurrent, a unifying theme that tied everything together, one of deep spiritual connection and respect for Nature…which unfortunately is not so evident now after decades of extreme industrialization and urbanization. But walking through the museum’s three exhibition halls, I couldn’t help reminiscing and longing for a past in which my ancestors were wise to coexist with their environment. everything from the way their houses were built, where the house was built according to feng shui and geomancy, what they ate and when, how they made their clothes and from what, how they farmed following the natural cycle of the seasons. Their whole culture was based around agriculture as well-the music, the rituals, the ceremonies etc.. The “Korean Way of Life” exhibition hall was specifically divided into the Four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, each depicting the way Korean people adapted to the changing environment and climate. This is not to say that everything was peaceful and harmonious in the past, hierarchy and inequality and food shortage was extremely common.

밀양백중놀이 one of the many farming ‘play/recreation’ ceremonies

so then, what’s so different now? in the so-called “leading digital city” and “tech capital of the world”, a nation of smart success-driven people, what’s different now?

here’s an excerpt from wikipedia

“During the first 20 years of South Korea’s growth surge, little effort was made to preserve the environment.[58] Unchecked industrialization and urban development have resulted in deforestation and the ongoing destruction of wetlands such as the Songdo Tidal Flat….However, there have been recent efforts to balance these problems, including a government run $84 billion five-year green growth project that aims to boost energy efficiency and green technology.

The green-based economic strategy is a comprehensive overhaul of South Korea’s economy, utilizing nearly two percent of the national GDP. The greening initiative includes such efforts as a nation wide bike network, solar and wind energy, lowering oil dependent vehicles, backing daylight savings and extensive usage of environmentally friendly technologies such as LEDs in electronics and lighting. The country – already the world’s most wired – plans to build a nationwide next-generation network which will be 10 times faster than current broadband facilities in order to reduce energy usage…”

a 할머니 (grandma in korea) in 밀양백중놀이


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