Go Museum-Hopping on the SubwaySeoul has one of the world's finest subway systems, the fastest and safest way to travel during rush hours. The subway is also ideal for people who want a relaxed trip to one of the city's many museums, both private and public, with subway stations conveniently located close to many of these museums. For newcomers, here is how to get to them.
Number One Line
The Number One Line, known as the "hell line" because of its peak-hour morning rush, is the oldest line, opened in 1974. Fittingly, this line takes you to the Railway Museum in Seoul Station, where you can learn all about the history of trains and railway development in Korea. The main visitors are high school students on field trips, but the museum also has plenty to interest adults. Bronze tokens and passenger tickets used in the 1960s will bring back memories for many. According to old timetables, the trip from Seoul to Pusan took 17 hours in 1905. A museum guide will even do calculations to work out the speed of future trains.
You can also take a longer subway trip to Bugok Station to check out the bigger Railway Museum, where you can see the trains that President Rhee used exclusively during the 1950s. Also on display is a VIP train on which U.S. President Lyndon Johnson once traveled.
Number Two Line
It takes about 90 minutes to travel the full circle on the Number Two Line, which runs close to museums owned by Korean corporations. The Pulmowon Kimchi Museum is in the Coex Mall, at Samsung Station. Here you can learn all about regional recipes that use different local ingredients. English instructions are available. The Samsung Children's Museum near Jamsil Station is more a playground than a traditional museum. Children can experiment with the displays using their hands. The museum has ongoing events.
Number Three Line
Public Institutional Museum
People often become very nervous and short-tempered as they wait in long lines to see officials at public institutions, especially when the institution is a police station. But things are different at the Seoul District Regional Police Agency, at Kyungbok Palace Station. Here you can see equipment that the Korean police have used down the years since the Joseon Dynasty. The most popular item is a white American Jeep brought to Korea during the 1950s. Also near Kyungbok Palace Station are Biwon Palace and the Buddhist Art Museum (02-766-5000).
At the Foreign Affairs Museum, near Yangjae Station, you can see old official documents such as passports and certificates. Compare them with the documents of today.
Number Four Line
This line takes you to several private museums, filled with precious objects and innovative ideas. Jojun Quilt Museum, near Myungdong Station, houses rare quilts that Kim Soo-hee has collected from around the world. The Ceramics Museum, near Suyu Station, is owned by the well-known artist Lee Young-ja. On display are about 2000 works ranging from plates to pottery. The country's only African Museum opened near Hyehwa Station two years ago. It is a good place to stop before seeing a play in Taehak-ro.
Number Five to Eight Lines
These lines, the most recent addition to the subway system, offer a clean, modern environment compared to the others. Hakdong Station (Number Seven Line) is the stop for furniture-lovers. The Hansem Interior Exhibition Center features some of the hippest furniture and interior products from Korea's leading designers. The LG Science Hall, near Yoinaru Station, is a "virtual world" in the center of Seoul. Children particularly love the virtual basketball game. Group tours are available from Monday to Friday.
by Park Ji-young