Teddy bear museum in N Seoul Tower exhibits the history of Seoul from past to present through teddy bears.
It has been separated into gallery 1 and 2 where it represents Seoul History Center and Special Center of Seoul respectively.
Greetings! My name is Cheong Seok-lin, one of the founding fathers of the Joseon Dynasty and the first governer of Hanseong-bu. I am essentially the first mayor of Seoul City, as Seoul became the capital for the first time when the Joseon Dynasty was founded. Since its designation as the capital 600 years ago, Seoul has undergone myriad changes and developments. I never imagined the heights to which Seoul would be developed when I was governer of Hanseong-bu. Now, allow me to take you to the path Seoul has taken.
Building Gyeongbok Palace
Gyeongbok Palace is the very first and largest palace built by the Joseon Dynasty. It was the cord of Hanyang urban planning and the symbol of majesty to all Korean people.Jeong Dojeon who took charge of the design came up with the name Gyeongbok meaning “to be given greatest blessings.” Workers and monks were mobilized from around Gyeonggi and Chungcheong regions for its construction which lasted for 2 years. It was finally completed on September 29, 1395, the 4th year of King Taejo’s reign. It consisted of 755 rooms in total including 173 rooms in naejeon (inner buildings used as the private residence of the royal family), 192 rooms in oejeon (outer building used as state rooms) and 390 rooms in government office buildings.
Memorial Services at the Royal Shrine of Jongmyo
The Joseon Dynasty was anchored in Confucianism and placed great emphasis on performing various ritual ceremonies for ancestors as ancestor worship was considered the principal virtue and precept in governing the country. This is why the Confucian shrines of Jongmyo and Sajik were built ahead of other structures in Hanyang. Memorial services honoring the decreased kings, queens, and retainers who contributed to the development of the dynasty were conducted at the shrines. A Jongmyo ritual was a highly significant, large-scale state-level event overseen by the king himself. It consisted of three parts, the first greeting the spirits, the second entertaining the spirits and the third sending off the spirits. It is often accompanied with songs praising the accomplishments of late kings and two types of dances called munmu and mumu, each representing academic achievements and military achievements, respectively.
Sports of Warriors, Korean Horseback Polo
When playing horseback polo,players ride on horses and hit a ball with rackets trying to put it in the goal. The sport is told to be introduced during the Era of Three States by Tang Dynasty of China. The game started to become popular in the Goryeo Dynasty and was considered as a key martial art in Joseon Dynasty since people who did not learn martial art could not play it. The first king Lee, Seonggye of the Joseon Dynasty was known to be an excellent player. Stressing the importance of the sport and trying to popularize it, he decided to include Korean horseback as a part of the military service exam.
Vibrant Cuisine of Joseon’s Court
During the Joseon Dynasty, the royal cuisine grew quite varied, and many of the recipes came to be representative of the entire nation. Such a development was made possible due to the efforts of trained specialists and the freshest local produce presented to the king from all over the country. The court kitchen was called sojubang or suratgan. Here, court ladies specializing in cuisine prepared dishes for the king under the watchful eye of a chief court lady with more than 20 years of experience.
Royal Court Cuisine
Tables set for the king were called sura. The tables were required to contain 12 or more dishes besides rice and soup. The royal recipes were not much different from those found in noble homes of yangban(ruling elite) class in the Seoul region. This was because culinary exchanges were made through marital unions between royal and aristocratic families. After a royal wedding or a banquet, foods that were piled high on reception tables were sent to nobles as gifts. Some of such foods were again given to lower classes, and consequently enriched Seoul’s culinary culture.
Hustle and Bustle of the Traditional Open Marketplace, Jangteo
Seoul served as an economic and commercial hub where the widest range of commodities from in and out of the country could be found and purchased. Seoul’s marketplace began to develop along the streets of jongro even before the relocation of the capital, anf after Hanyang became the new seat of government, an increasing number of merchants flocked to Jongro. The market carried an endless array of foods, stationeries such as paper and Chinese ink sticks, fabrics, pottery, and other necessities for citizens and government offices. It also carried a wider selection of luxury goods such as silk and spices as compared to markets in smaller towns.
A series of ceremonies were held seasonally to wish or give thanks for rich harvest and to ultimately invoke blessings for life that could not be separated from farming. Such ceremonies and festivities were performed in line with the farming timetable. The harvest season was the happiest time of the year that encompassed chuseok (Thanksgiving), beakjung (15th of July of lunar calendar) and junggu (9th of September of the lunar calendar). Commoners back then enjoyed many traditional games and customs to build positive relations with neighbours.
The establishment of the Korean Empire was a straigthtforward expression of the Korean people’s desire to prevent intervention by superpowers and build a modern independent country. On October 12, 1897, King Gojong was enthroned as the emperor. The Korean Empire came into being and declared to the outside world that it is an independent country. On the day when Emperor Gojong conducted the ritual ceremony on wongudan (a platform first built during the Goryeo Dynasty for such ceremonies), the street from Gyeongun Palace all the way to wongudan was jam packed with people roaring, shouting and waving banners.
The government pushed ahead with its enlightment policies with the opening of the ports. It first revolutionized the military system to strengthen national defense. Such a far-reaching change reflected the government’s will to build a stronger, wealthier country. Korea’s establishment of the very first modern army, Byeogigun, signaled the start of change in everything from training methods to weapons. Soldiers were armed with Western weapons, and received training from foreigners invited by the government.
Geoncheong Palace Lit by Electricity
Geoncheong Palace was first electrically lit on January 26, 1887. In 1886, US electrician William McKey and his assistant were commissioned by the government to build the needed facilities, which took about 3 months. Courtiers called this electric light “the water light” at first, because it drew power from the water that filled Hyangwonjeong, the pond within Geoncheong Palace. However, this electric light made unbearable noise from the power generator when switched on, and frequently went out of order and keep flickering. Thus, some came to call it “the saucy light” because it seemed to be mocking the king.
An Innovative Transportation mode, the Tram
Trams made their first appearance in Seoul on May 17, 1899. Seoul was the first capital city in Asia to operate trams. They were also the fastest in Asia next to Kyoto. The first route covered the 8-kilometer distance from Seodaemun to Jongro, Dongdaemun and Cheongryangri. On the day of its opening, excited citizens were thrilled beyond imagination so that its services were disturbed and sometimes forced to be suspended. The cars had no door and thus could not block the cold or rain. The wooden seats were also very hard and uncomfortable. Yet, they were speedy and convenient, and became a must-try attraction.
Coming up: Teddy Bear Museum_Gallery 2 @N Seoul Tower