History of the Korean People

Exhibition Hall 1

This exhibition hall displays representative historical materials of everyday life that manifest Korean culture and history from prehistoric to modern times.
The introductory section is composed of the chronicle of everyday life and an exhibit on various aspects of Koreans. It illustrates an extensive range of materials on the lifestyle of the people who lived in the Korean Peninsula, from the prehistoric to the modern era and establishes the foundation of Korean culture and its legacy.
[From Nature into the Human Lives] shows the processes through which the lives of the people have changed from the Paleolithic Age to the Bronze Age. The people changed by simply adapting themselves to nature and harnessing it for their own purpose. Their productive capacity increased, and distinct social classes and states emerged.
[Territorial Expansion] revisits the lives of the people during the period of the Three Kingdoms to the North and South states period, and also Korea as a complete country that used land and sea to expand its territories and to conquer neighboring states.
[Enjoyment of Culture] presents the cultures that flourished during the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties, particularly under the governance of the Confucianism-based regime. It features the development of typography and printing, the spread of knowledge by the creation and promulgation of Hangeul, and the artistic and leisurely tendencies represented in everyday goods used by ordinary people.
[Emergence and Growth of the Middle Class] illustrates the changes in the daily life and lifestyles of the average person, by focusing on the everyday supplies, goods, and living spaces from the late 19th century when Korea was forced to open its ports, to modern and contemporary times.
Finally, [Koreans seen through images] visually presents a diverse range of lifestyles of ordinary people, who are the real driving force of history and the societal development in Korea.

  The Korean Way of Life

Exhibition Hall 2

This Exhibition Hall illustrates how the lives of the Koreans during the Joseon period (1392-1910) revolved around the agrarian life and annual cycle of the four seasons.
Korean villages were established at the most favorable locations and the smallest unit of living space where people used to live together. This exhibition shows the various aspects of villagers’ daily lives through the four seasons, starting with spring. The overall aspects of the Korean way of life can be observed in the marketplace, which served as a venue of culture and trade that connected villages with people, people with people, and commodities with commodities. Visitors can have a glimpse into the traditional lives including occupations, diet, clothing, housing, and crafts based on the seasonal agricultural customs, which were created by the Koreans so they could live in harmony with the natural phenomenon of the four seasons.

  Life Cycle of the Koreans

Exhibition Hall 3

This Exhibition Hall displays the major life events of individual Koreans born into the upper class of the Joseon society (1392-1910).
Confucianism was the state ideology, having a son to carry on the family line was considered to be the primary importance. People, therefore, prayed fervently for a son, even before a woman’s childbirth. Celebrations were held for the newborn baby’s first 100 days and on its 1st birthday to celebrate the baby’s safe passage in life in the world.
Coming-of-age ceremonies were conducted for the girls at the age of fifteen and at the age of twenty for the boys. New families were established through marriages. Upper-class men aspired to obtain a government post by passing the state examinations. The key role for upper-class women was to manage the household. The family overcame the pain and sorrow of losing a parent by observing a three-year mourning period, after which the spirit of the departed was honored in a shrine. Memorial services were performed regularly to placate the spirits of the deceased, ensure the prosperity of succeeding generations, and to maintain harmony among the surviving family members.

Exhibition of Donations

A permanent exhibition hall for the artifacts donated has been established in Exhibition Hall 3 of the Museum. Minor exhibitions of artifacts donated are held 4~5 times a year by selecting artifacts that are appropriate for the themes the Museum sets. Signboards are installed next to this exhibition hall that display the list of the people who have donated artifacts thus far.

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