Destination: Yanggu Prehistoric Museum (Yanggu-gun, Gangwon-do)

This sleepy town in Gangwon-do has recently been jolted back to life, thanks in part to some unusual museums. While there are a couple newer entries, Yanggu holds the first museum in Korea dedicated to the prehistoric era, with 650 pieces from the Paleolithic, Neolithic and Bronze ages.

Rewind to 1987, when the Peace Dam was being constructed to protect Seoul from the Kumgangsan dam in North Korea. As the Paro reservoir was being drained, the relics from prehistoric times were discovered.

As is par for the course at most Korean museums, the cards offer up some English, and there’s a bit of context around the museum.

The museum was then established in 1997, and is almost as much about the archaeology as the findings – they were quite meticulous in recording where each thing was found and when. Many of the pieces resemble jigsaw puzzles with more than a few pieces missing, though some of the newer pieces look good enough to put on your dinner table today.

Once finished with the tour, it’s time to step outside:

A look back at the museum before moving on.

One of the straw / old school houses here. The next time someone mentions Korea’s “5,000 years of history”, ask them about this.

I’ll give them credit, though – the inside is fairly spacious.

Don’t forget about the dolmen, or prehistoric tombs, outside.

The other building you’ll see by the entrance is a “local historic center”, displaying the lifestyle of people from thousands of years ago and some of the remaining porcelain items. If you’re short on time it’s skippable, and most of the text is Korean only.

As a whole, it’s an interesting take on how Koreans used to live, and what’s been recovered from thousands of years ago. It’s far from a complete record, of course, and it’s relatively small. The area is beautiful, however – fellow photographers take note, and get out of Seoul for a day trip with this as a side stop.

Name: Yanggu Prehistoric Museum (양구선사박물관)

Address: Gangwon-do Yanggu-gun Yanggu-eup Ha-ri 510

Korean address: 강원도 양구군 양구읍 하리 510
Directions: From the Dong Seoul bus terminal, 11 buses a day head to Yanggu. From the Yanggu Bus Terminal, it’s simplest to take a short and cheap (3,000 won) taxi ride, or you can look for a bus to Bangsan and ride for about 5 minutes.
Hours: 9am-5pm (9am-6pm in summer) – closed Tuesdays and some holidays
Admission: 1,000 won
Phone: 033-480-2677