No dust here: Students study in museums

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No dust here: Students study in museums

As the winter vacation for the nation's middle- and high-school students winds down, many pupils are busy finishing heavy homework loads. Vacation homework has changed in recent years, though. Through the 1980s, students were assigned strictly bookwork, most of it mind-numbing; but now teachers are forcing their students to venture out of the house, squint their eyes at the hazy winter sunlight, and have a bona fide cultural experience.

The activities that teachers prescribe are usually traditional or classical musical concerts, or trips to local museums. The students then need to turn in reports on their impressions.

On the museum front, here are some of the places students are being sent:

- Korean National Agriculture Cooperative Federation, Chungjeongno, downtown Seoul. An exhibit on the history of the nation's farming industry is on display here. Visitors can learn how raising and harvesting crops have evolved on the peninsula since prehistoric times.

- Korean Football Association, Jongno, downtown Seoul. With the World Cup soccer games only a few months ahead, here's a chance to discover the sport's history in Korea. The association's headquarters houses local soccer paraphernalia dating back decades, including shoes, uniforms, trophies and photos.

- National Folk Museum, Gwanghwamun, downtown Seoul. As the year of the snake yields to the year of the horse, here's a large exhibit that features old bridles, saddles, horseshoes and many other horse-related items. Also, the Korean Horse Affairs Association is putting on a similar exhibit at Masaae, a race track in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi province.

- Museum of Korean Commercial History, Shinsegae Trade Center, Yong-in, Gyeonggi province. Merchants through the ages are featured here. Those hooked on the television drama "Sangdo," about a lowly merchant who rises up in the ranks until he becomes the wealthiest trader, will find the diplays particularly engaging.

- Bank of Korea headquarters, Namdaemun. Worshipers of mammon might want to head to the money museum, where a special exhibit of euro currency is being held.

- Korean National Maritime Museum, Mokpo, South Jeolla province. Marine buffs will find old ships and sailing equipment on hand.

- Hahoedong Traditional Mask Museum, Andong, South Gyeongsang province. Traditional masks from abroad as well as masks used in Korean theater productions can be viewed here.

- Chamsori Gramophone Edison Museum, Gangnyeun, Gangwon province. If you want to see and hear the first gramophones used by Thomas Edison, then this place is for you.

- Alps Resort, Gangwon province. Antique skis, sleighs and other equipment are on display.

- Daejeon's Han-bat Museum of Education and the Deokpojin Education Museum, Gimpo, Gyeonggi, province, offers re-creations that will take you back to the inside of a classroom in days gone by.

If winter's bitter chill keeps you home, go to www.korea-museum.go.kr or www.krmuseum.co.kr, where you can get more information about local museums or do some homework before you go.

by Lee Kyong-hee

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