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Contemporary History Museum Opens

2012/12/29 | 107 views | Permalink | Source

The nation's first museum exclusively dedicated to its contemporary history has opened in downtown Seoul.

President Lee Myung-bak and about 100 figures who have worked for the opening attended on Wednesday the ceremony for the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History.

The museum chronicles the nation's events starting from the late 19 century, which is when Korea first opened its doors to the outer world.

The government remodeled the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism's former office building in downtown Seoul into an eight-story museum.

The museum has four permanent exhibition rooms and two exhibit halls for special occasions.

The national museum is first putting 15-hundred items on display to the public and plans to gradually open its 40-thousand piece collection.

Reported by KBS WORLD Radio

Contact the KBS News: englishweb@kbs.co.kr

From Arirang

And now it's time for our regular arts and culture segment.
Arirang's cultural correspondent Park Ji-won joins us now in the studio.
She, of course, will be here with us all throughout the week for Michelle, who has the week off.
Hello, Jiwon.

[Reporter : Park Ji-won] Hello, Conn-young.

[Reporter : Park Ji-won] Well, with today's piece I'm bringing you a bit of art that's also educational.
A landmark museum has just opened, and it's a must-see for those of you who are interested in modern Korean history.

The National Museum of Korean Contemporary History officially opens on Wednesday, after more than four years of preparations.
The museum is the country's first NATIONAL museum to focus on modern and contemporary Korean history and it displays some 15-hundred items from the realms of politics, the economy and culture.
The museum covers the past one-hundred-fifty years, from 1870 to the present.

[Interview : Kim Wang-sik, Director National Museum of Korean Contemporary History ] "Korea has achieved both economic development and democratization within a very short period of time and the museum was established to exhibit Korea's proud history. Although the museum mainly emphasizes the period after 1945, our chronicle of history begins from 1870, when Korea opened its ports to the world powers of the time. That was the beginning of Korea's efforts to become a modern nation".

The museum aims to show this through a variety of items, including maps, videos, documents and pictures.
The first exhibition room covers the period from the late 19th-century to the mid-20th century.
It shows how Korea, a country with thousands of years of history, lost its sovereignty to Japan and how it strived to fight back against Japan's colonial rule.
A video in this section shows Korea's liberation in 1945,.. when Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers, and the Korean people's excitement.
However, that joy soon turned into sorrow over the separation of the nation into North and South Korea and the Korean War.
The next exhibition room shows how Korea recovered step by step from the ruins of war and went forward in the realm of national defene, economic development.. and political reform.
Starting in the 1960s through the 80s, Korea was one of the world's fastest growing economies, with export-oriented economic policies and a series of five-year development plans.
This is the Pony, the first Korean-made car to be exported to other countries.
And this is the first oil tanker made in Korea during the 1970s,. the period of Korea's rapid economic development.
While the museum boasts Korea's stellar economic achievements, it also emphasizes the development of civic society and democracy.
This exhibition room shows the political oppression under the dictatorship of then President Park Chung-hee, as evidenced by these official government documents that permit martial law.
Videos in this section capture the sights and sounds of the pro-democracy movements of the time.
And this is a video of the Gwangju Democratization Movement of 1980, when a peaceful civilian demonstration was mercilessly crushed by military troops.

The exhibition - it makes its case by trying to present a balanced view of two of Korea's major achievements in modern history -- economic development and democratization.

[Reporter : ] Well, actually, there has been some criticism about the museum from Koreans who say that it focuses more on industrialization than pro-democracy movements.
But from my point of view, it IS well-balanced, because seeing all of the items and videos on dispaly made me realize that freedom did not come to this country easily.
Our fathers and mothers fought for this and we really should be grateful.

Tell us, what else about the museum left an impression on you

[Reporter : ] One of most interesting exhibits is a model presidential office on the third floor.

This room is modeled after the presidential office,.. though it's much smaller in size.
Pictures of previous presidents of Korea are hung on the walls, while through the glass window in the back, visitors can see the real Cheong Wa Dae, the presidential office, and Gyeongbok Palace, which was used during the Joseon Dynasty.

[Reporter : ] "This desk here is exactly the same size and shape as the desk the president uses".

Visitors can get a sense of being the president,.. as they ponder Korea's history.
Walking through the halls of the museum, visitors may begin to understand that we all have a responsibility for history.

I think I speak for many of our viewers - I'd really like to drop by the museum myself sometime. When does it open to the public[Reporter : ] Tomorrow is the first day it's open to the public. It will be open from Monday through Saturday from 9 to 6.

Looking back as we head to the end of the year, it seems like there have been a lot of exhibitions on Korean history this year.

[Reporter : ] That's right. I myself have covered diverse exhibitions related to history, including a
special exhibition about the traditional folk song "Arirang" and an exhibition that was the largest Goryeo celadon exhibition in years.
There was also the Deoksugung Project, in which art installations were placed around Deoksu Palace, and the Seoul Photo Festival,. which showed through photographs how Seoul has changed over the years.

I suppose it all makes sense.
With the nation having achieved great developments in such a short span of time, I guess more Koreans are trying to looking back and reflect on those achievements before taking the next steps forward.
Well Jiwon, thanks for sharing this exhibition with us today.

[Reporter : ] You're welcome. I'll have more arts and culture events for you tomorrow.

Source : Arirang

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