An Encounter with Leisure ㅡ Chancing Upon the Arts
See & Do Tours
Seoul is a relaxing city.
Looking beyond Seoul as a city for tourists, visitors will be able to find unique tours and venues commonly enjoyed by the city’s residents. That isn’t to say that Gyeongbokgung Palace, N Seoul Tower, and the streets of Myeongdong aren’t all great places – They are! However, if you’re a tad bit curious about the type of art and culture which the locals enjoy, you might be interested in trying out a different itinerary. From classic to modern art, there’s plenty to see in Seoul, the city of culture and arts.
Give me a museum and I’ll fill it
by Pablo Picasso
There are 126 museums and 1,291 libraries, numbering a total of 1,417 institutions devoted to the arts in Seoul. And many different kinds of museums and libraries exist within Seoul that the probability of running into one while walking randomly in Seoul is very high. The people of Seoul enjoy various types of arts. Whether it’s classic art, modern art, or art installations, Seoul is a city brimming with many different art spaces.
Open since 1988, Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Over the years, this museum has showcased all kind of work. With its mobile app offering audio guides, visitors can browse the museum with a better understanding of the pieces on display. And as they leave the museum, visitors can walk along the Deoksugung Stonewall Walkway as they avidly discuss the exhibition with their friends.
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) is located in the heart of Seoul. It’s a special place which integrates the arts into the everyday lives of Seoul’s citizens. The Seoul branch is especially accessible to those who come to shop in Samcheong-dong or tour around Gyeongbokgung Palace. As a place which is open to communicating and keen on experimentations, this museum hosts many special events such as ballet shows, movie screenings, and even yoga sessions.
61 Deoksugung-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (+82-2-2124-8800)
Tue - Fri 10:00 - 20:00
Sat, Sun, Holidays10:00 - 19:00
Museum Night 7:00 - 10:00
└(Every 2nd and 4th Wednesday)
30 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (+82-2-3701-9500)
Closed New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year, Chuseok
Mon - Thu, Sun: 10:00 - 18:00
Fri, Sat: 10:00 - 21:00
└(Night Opening 18:00 - 21:00 Free Admission)
The National Museum of Korea is a place showcasing the art and culture of Korea. Historical treasures only seen in textbooks - ancient maps, ceramic wares, and paintings – are on full display for everyone to see here. Just by seeing the huge number of visitors at the entrance, it’s evident that interest in Korean history is very high. On the left side of the museum, there’s a theater room called “Theater Yong”. Musicals and ballets are often shown there, offering visitors a type of art different from the ones on display throughout the museum.
Breaking down the notion of a memorial being a solemn place, the War Memorial of Korea has a very lively atmosphere. Children can be found running outside on the grass lawns. Students cheerfully gather together for a picnic. Tour guides lead around groups of curious foreigners. Due to the many visitors interested in learning about what happened in the past, there’s never a quiet day at the War Memorial of Korea.
137 Seobinggo-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (+82-2-2077-9000)
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 10:00 - 18:00
Wed, Sat 10:00 - 21:00
Sun, Holiday 10:00 - 19:00
29 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (+82-2-709-3130)
9:30 – 18:00
(Night Opening) Every last Saturday of the month 9:30 - 20:00
Seoul Metropolitan Library isn’t just a place for reading books. It’s also a place which offers lectures and educational workshops. Operated by Seoul Metropolitan Government, this library isn’t like other normal libraries. With an exterior design depicting modernism, Seoul Metropolitan Library was originally built in 1926 as a city hall building. However, storing close to 200,000 books and documents, it is currently being used as Seoul’s main library. Possessing a great collection of foreign books donated by the foreign embassies and culture centers and computers with foreign support readily available, foreign visitors will have no trouble at all utilizing the resources of this library. Lounging around the grassy plaza just outside the library is also highly recommended.
Apparently, a library can also become a popular Instagram tag. Almost a replica of the library from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”, COEX’s Starfield Library is a very popular attraction among Seoul’s visitors. As a public space, it is open to everyone and shoppers or movie-goers can easily stop by to browse through its numerous collections of books and magazines.
110 Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul (+82-2-2133-0300)
Tue - Fri 9:00 - 21:00 / Sat, Sun 9:00 - 18:00
(Closed Monday, Holidays)
22-2 Yeoksam-ro 83-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (+82-2-6002-3031)
Mon - Sun 10:30 - 22:00