National Museum of Korea Tour & Painting Class

Trip Start Aug 16, 2013
Trip End Aug 25, 2013

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Flag of Korea Rep.  ,
Friday, March 23, 2012

After the welcome ceremonies for this years new and returning bloggers we were taken by bus to the National Museum of Korea. It was very heavy rain and I have been cursed every time I come to Seoul that there is a massive all day rain storm (Chuseok 2010, May 2011, July 2011, again today). 

Security is tight in the city due to the Nuclear Summit being attended by Obama and many world leaders. There was a bomb squad doing a practice exercise near the entranceway.  
At the National Museum we were first taken to a small meeting room where the Director of the Museum welcomed us and gave us a brief introduction to the museum and its collections.

Then we were taken with a tour guide on a guided tour around the museum. I had already visited in Sept 2010 when I first came to Korea but its nice to visit again and this time with a guide.

First we saw the Baekje Incense burner. This is the pride of the town of Buyeo, heart of the Baekje Kingdom, which I have visited twice during the Baekje Festival both in 2010, and 2011. 

(See blog entry on Baekje Festival

She explained researchers theorize it is meant to represent the layers of the earth from the undersea world, lotus leaves on the water surface, descending up to the eagle perched on the top. 

Next we saw the Shilla Royal Crown. This is from the Shilla Dynasty centered around the historic city of Gyeongju. They have found these buried with dead kings so are not sure what the actual use was? Which is odd since Kings are always wearing these crowns in costume dramas. 

Then we saw the 10 storey pagoda which is a striking feature of the main hall. During the Japanese occupation it was taken to Tokyo and placed in someones garden. Then in the 1970s it was finally returned to Korea. There has been damage over the years so some pieces are restorations.

After that it was up to the third floor to see the giant buddha statues and smaller bronze buddha figures. During this whole time Arirang TV was trailing us and taking shots. The poor presenter was having a hard time as the cameraman kept repositioning him and telling him to say his dialogue again. 

The tour ended with the ceramic vases and I thought we were done as I wanted to get some food. However, we were led down into the basement then into another activity room. Before that we stopped in the gift shop where normally pictures are not allowed but we had special permission. 

In the basement activity room they had tables setup where people can do crafts activities. We watched a slideshow about dragon figures since this was the year of the dragon and they explained how they wanted us to draw and paint a dragon figure. 

The easiest way instead of freehand was to shade the back of the paper with dark ink. Then turn the paper back face up and trace the picture onto the board below. The dark ink on the back will make an imprint onto the board. Then we can use the imprint as a guide to paint over the figure. 

We all threw our hands up in the air at the mere thought of this task and felt it was near impossible. However, the tracing method was actually quite effective and once we saw our finished tracings we were actually surprised. 

All of the final pieces of art turned out quite good and it was surprising how quiet and absorbed we became with our tasks after our first reluctance. They forgot about me with the final group pic as I was gluing on the border prints onto my board. 

It was a fun event, if somewhat long with no refreshments. After we headed back out into the pouring rain and said our goodbyes, until we meet again. 

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