3 Must-See Korean Sites That Give a True Picture of Korea

Updated on December 14, 2018
david tee profile image

Dr. David Thiessen spent many weekends traveling to all points on the Korean map.

In its roughly 5,000-year history, Korea has amassed a lot of history. They have also built a lot of museums and monuments commemorating that historical heritage. These three stand out from the rest.

3 Must-See Sites in Korea

In all the years that I lived in Korea, I spent my weekends exploring the country and its many museums, historical sites, and monuments. There are a lot of them. Yet only three stood out as the most important sites to see if one wants to learn the history of Korea, understand its culture, and get a better view of the Korean people.

  1. The National Museum
  2. The War Memorial Museum
  3. Independence Hall

I do expect that some people will disagree with my choices, as the various royal palaces located in Seoul do offer some insight to the Korean culture. However, in my opinion, they just do not go far enough in demonstrating to the world who the Korean people are and where they came from.

Read on to find out more about these fascinating places and why they're worth putting at the top of the list of what to see when in Korea.

The Royal Throne National Museum
The Royal Throne National Museum

1. The National Museum

Located just outside of the heart of downtown Seoul, not far from the Han River, the National Museum holds many of the treasures of Korea’s past. Its two floors are divided up into different historical periods.

The artifacts are displayed in a manner that tells a continuing story of Korean history. The above photo is the royal throne taken from Gyeongbukgung, the main royal palace located near the President’s Blue House.

As you can see, the National Museum displays it in all its royal splendor. The officials of the museum do the same for all their exhibits. After one takes a few hours to wander through the museum halls, they begin to see how Korea developed into the modern nation it has become.

Outside the War Memorial Museum
Outside the War Memorial Museum

2. The War Memorial Museum

This museum does not glorify war but keeps the memories of those brave Koreans who died fighting for their homeland alive. On the first floor, the history goes back millennia. The exhibits show the different key battles that took place early in Korean history.

The different weapons and a model of one fortress are part of the display, but this is just the tip of the exhibit iceberg. The other floors show Korea’s participation in different conflicts, including the Vietnam War.

Individual soldiers are honored, as are the many Korean and American soldiers who fell during the Korean War in the 1950s. Outside on the museum grounds are the different weapons, planes, ships and other armor used in the more modern conflicts.

Located only a mile away from the National Museum, it takes several hours before one can fully view all the exhibits properly. There is a lot for a visitor to take in and think about.

The Great Hall, Independence Hall
The Great Hall, Independence Hall

3. Independence Hall

This is the only must-see historical site that is located outside of Seoul, residing in Cheonan-Si. Once you arrive on the grounds, you can see that it is different from other museums. There is a long walk from the parking lot to the great hall where the above statue is located.

But as you walk, you can see a variety of exhibits, including the many tortures the Japanese rulers inflicted on the Korean people. You can rent bikes or ride in a shuttle if you are not up for the walk.

Behind the statue and the great hall lie seven buildings. Each one has its own theme. The first building deals with early Korean history, while many of the remaining six focus on Korea’s struggle for independence from 20th-century Japanese rule.

One cannot be unaffected as they walk through the Korean history and see the pain the Korean people endured as they struggled to become free once again. I used to visit this museum often, as the visits helped me keep a proper perspective of the Korean people.

The Labor Building
The Labor Building

Honorable Mention: The Labor Building

No visit to Korea would be complete without taking in the history of this building. Once sitting in North Korean territory, the people taken into this building were said to be different when they came out.

The bullet-hole-ridden walls are silent now, but they witnessed horrendous acts committed by North Korean communist members. What remains now is a mere shell, but its history is preserved so everyone will know the true nature of communism.

Some Final Words

Over the years, I have felt that being a tourist does not do justice to one’s visit to a new country. A person flies in, looks around for a few days, then flies home thinking they have gotten to know the people, the culture and experienced something wonderful.

In a very superficial way, they have accomplished those objectives, but in reality, they have barely scratched the surface. To get to the heart of the people and what made them what they are today takes some serious time.

I know that tourists cannot commit to that time frame, which is why these must-see locations are so important. They help tourists get a real glimpse of the heart of the Korean people and experience something they might not see in other more popular countries: They get to see the Korean people.

© 2018 David Thiessen


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • poppyr profile image


      19 months ago from Enoshima, Japan

      I haven't visited Korea yet but I sure love the food. These sites look interesting; I always think it's important to visit museums when you visit anywhere so you can appreciate local history and what was done in the past to get the place to where it is now.

    • david tee profile imageAUTHOR

      David Thiessen 

      19 months ago from Philippines

      Thank you.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      19 months ago from UK

      This gives me a well-illustrated insight into what I should visit in Korea.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wanderwisdom.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)