Destination: Here is Korea, 1970KHz, Seoul

Some things in Korea haven’t changed much in the past three decades.

Here is Korea, 1970KHz (여기는 대한민국 1970KHz) is a look into Korea from the 1970s. While far from comprehensive, it’s an intriguing glimpse into the lives and lifestyles from not too long ago. It’s also a reminder that while some aspects have changed markedly, more than a few things haven’t.

12,000 won (about US$11) gets you in, and an optional 2,000 won (about US$1.50) audio guide offers the only information in English you’re going to find.

A ‘Sunday Seoul’ magazine from just a few years ago – still in readable condition, like some of the other magazines seen later.

Some 월급봉투 (wol-geub-bong-tu) – translating to monthly budget envelope, you would receive your pay in cash, then budget for various expenses using the categories on the front.

Some national pension lottery tickets from yesteryear.

One of several fairly unimpressive video walls – clips of a theme were looped together, filling up only a fraction of the screen.

Money, baby! While I’m uncertain how much 50 Korean won would have been worth in the 1970s, it’s a mere four or five US cents today.

The next time you hear kids complain about having to go to hagwon (private English schools), show them the alternative.

The barbershop, complete with the poster for men’s haircut styles.

The irony of seeing the charcoal briquets camoflaguing the modern electric heater was funny.

A small neighborhood grocery store, possibly before products from the West were imported by the masses.

A kid’s comic book room, complete with black-and-white TV.

Plenty of sports, women’s, family, and other magazines you might’ve seen on the Korean newsstands a few decades ago.

One of the final rooms displayed LP covers from the era, along with plenty of classics from the Western world.

Not pictured are the two last rooms on a tour – a cafe with DJ booth and small souvenir shop. While the latter had some classic kids toys and basic books on the exhibit for sale, the former was set up for a special event later that night. Apparently, a famous DJ from the era would be spinning some records after the exhibit closed. Since that was still a few hours away, I bought a coffee and chatted with one of the PR representatives before exiting.

Overall, the exhibit is interesting, but feels incomplete. It shows nothing of the turmoil happening around this time. It does nothing to explain in English, save for the audio guide. The only people that seemed to be walking around this particular Saturday were older people reminiscing or younger kids taking notes and sticking their hands in wooden red boxes (possibly for completing some sort of handout-type paper). It’s worth checking out if you haven’t had peeked your head inside the Seoul Folk Flea Market.

Ratings (out of 5 taeguks): How do I rate destinations?
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Directions: Take line 5 of the Seoul subway system to Gwanghwamun station. Take exit 7 to street level and look to the left for the Sejong Center of the Performing Arts (세종문화회관). Admission 12,000 won, open through February 28, 2012. Hours: 10am-7pm; doors close at 6pm. Audio guide available for 2,000 won. The special DJ program goes from 7pm-9pm, and the program is open until February 28, 2012. For more information, check out www.korea.1970.co.kr.