Korea Travel Guide Palaces, Museums & Folk Villages

Seoul Museum of History: Traces of the City

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If you are looking for some interactive and high innovative museum try visiting the Seoul Museum of History which features the traces of the city from the 16th century.

Seoul has so many museums and until now I have never completed my list. But luckily, last time I am able to join the One Day Seoul History Tour organized by the Seoul Museum of History.

What is the Seoul Museum of History?

The Seoul Museum of History was opened in 1985 but after some renovations, it was reopened to the public last May 5, 2002. The museum lets the visitors enhance their understanding of the historical events and places of the city.  For over 600 years, the museum preserved the most significant relics of the city. Visitors can join the interactive exhibitions with various hands-on programs. The museum also offers an automatic translator (available in different languages) for visitors which is called U-Exhibit Guidance System. This is to let the visitors more interested and understand the information well and it’s more convenient.

The museum offers free admission and operates from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm during weekdays (Tuesday to Friday). During weekends and holidays, it is open from 9:00 am till 7:00 pm. During winter, from November to February the museum is open from 9:00 am up to 6:00 pm. For more details, you can visit the Seoul Museum of History‘s website.

The exhibition is divided into five sections, has an outdoor exhibit area in which visitors can able to learn about the evolution of the land from prehistoric times to the modern-day which is today.

READ: Herb Medicine Museum: An Exhibition Guide

Things to see at Seoul Museum of History?

Zone 1: Seoul of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1863)

This zone depicts Seoul during the Joseon Dynasty from the establishment of Hanyang (Seoul today) to the opening of the port. It also introduces the palaces including Gyeongbukgung, Changdeokgung, Gyeonghuigung, Deoksugung, and Changgyeonggung.

The villages were built including Bukchon bordered by Changdeokgung to the east and Gyeongbukgung to the west. Bukchon was the northern village that became the home of wealthy and intellectual high-ranking officials. Jungchon was the middle village before and known as the Jongno, the home of professional officers like interpreters and medical officers, minor officials, and merchants. Namchon village located in the south was built in the 16th century. In this village, a number of scholars of high integrity lived here along with families with upper-class ancestry.

During the Joseon Dynasty, Unjongga street known as Jongno today was the most crowded place in Seoul. During th Sijeon was located here which is the most important public market during that time. This was the place where goods were secure for the royal family and authorities. At Unjongga street you can see the Bronze Bell of Bosingak Tower.

Zone 2: The Capital of the Daehan Empire (1863-1910)

This exhibition depicts Seoul during the time of the Korean Empire and the start opening of the ports. Seoulites encountered changes in this era from the culture and reformation fights against the colonizing powers.

Zone 3: Seoul under Japanese Control (1910-1945)

This exhibition presents the lives of the people of Gyeongseong (name of Seoul during the Japanese occupation), a colonial city that had lost its former urban identity under Japanese colonization.

Zone 4: Period of Rapid Growth Seoul (1945~2002)

This exhibit room describes the development of Seoul from the liberation in 1945 through the 2002 World Cup. After the Korean War Seoul recovered and started building apartments and buildings.

Zone 5: Seoul Today and Tomorrow

This exhibition hall features the present day of Seoul which visitors can see a highly realistic scale model (1,500:1) of Seoul using advanced multimedia technology and intricate models.

Outdoor Exhibit Area

The museum’s outdoor exhibit area has 16 displays of artifacts from the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392) to the modern-day. The displays include the materials from the previous Gwanghwamun gate, monuments of Prince Eungsingun, King Heungchin, Prince and Yeongseon, and Yi Wu. The famous Street Car No. 381, built by the Japan Vehicle Corporation which operated in Seoul in the 1930s. The streetcar traveled the streets of Seoul for almost 38 years.


Upon visiting this museum, sponsored by the Seoul Museum of History One Day Tour,  I’ve seen how Seoul transformed from a prehistoric site into a modern city. I love how the government preserves the relics and how they presented them in a modern way. I like the scale models of Seoul from the Joseon dynasty up to the present day. Also, due to the advanced technology of Korea made the tour more interesting with the help of English-speaking guides.


  • Closed on Mondays.
  • Admission is free.
  • Visit Gyeonghui Palace after visiting the museum.
  • Rent a retro student uniform and visit Donuimun Village Museum
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Try the Korean foods at the nearby restaurants.

03177  55 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

How to get here:
Seodaemun Station, Subway line 5, exit 4, walk about 300m
Gyeongbokgung Station (Subway Line 3), exit 7
Gwanghwamun Station (Subway Line 5), exit 7, walk about 400m

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Xoxo, Hyejin 

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13 Replies to “Seoul Museum of History: Traces of the City”

  1. I haven’t been to this museum though I have gone around Donuimun during its early stages. I would like to see Street Car 381. Ang tagal pala nyang bumyahe.

  2. Visiting museums are the best experience to immersed with cultures. Also, the admission fees are always reasonable, and some are cheap, so what not visit?

    1. Ang ganda nman ng museum na ito , gusto ko dn ung nkakavisit sa mga museum lalo na ung ngaaral pa ako . Kse ang saya lng ung mga mkikita mo ky knya knyang mga history dn . And nkakatuwa din sa ganito my pa free sila 😍❤️

  3. I really admire you on doing a great job in your article featuring History and great places to enjoy. I also love the tips that you gave at the end of your article.

  4. Love how Seoul preserves its history through museums like this. Would be nice to see one day, not just for myself, as we are mostly familiar with Joseon era and modern Seoul.

  5. Wow must visit this place , ang ganda ng museum na ito and tlga nmn npaka ganda ng history nya . Thank you for sharing 😍❤️

  6. If I may given the chance to visit South Korea.. it’s my no. 1 on my bucket list! Very interesting and looks great to see this in person!

  7. How i wish to experience visiting this Museum in Korea. Very interesting and catching my attention that this museum lets the visitors enhance their understanding of the historical events and places of the city.
    Loved to know that they really preserved the most significant relic of the city which is very interesting when it comes to visiting in the country. Another great thing is thier U Exhibit Guidance System which I loved coz it is very helpful to help us to understand thier Language.
    Thank you very much Ms.Abby for this blog Very informative.

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