Of Museums and Markets


matt 120pxWe kicked off our first full day in Seoul with visits to two things we often see in capital cities: national museums and stock markets. We went to the National Museum first, which moved to a new location just a couple of years ago. It’s a really huge building and very-well laid out, as far as museums go. Like many national museums, this one began with Korea’s Neolithic history and once again, we spent way to much time looking at fossilized rice and arrowheads. We did learn a lot about Korean history, which is basically a series of kingdoms, which were split, combined, and attacked by China and Japan. Obviously much space was given to the Joseon Dynasty, which ruled from the 14th century until the Japanese occupation in the 20th. It wouldn’t be very interesting to recount the details here, but it was a somewhat interesting museum, especially since I previously knew very little about Korea or its history. The most interesting galleries for me were the mapmaking/history of Korean contact with the outside world and the Hangul (Korean script which was invented in the 16th century) gallery. But after eight galleries of probably 100 meters each, we were pretty tired. We ate at the museum café, just a simple udong meal. From the museum, we took the subway a few stops to Yeouido Island, a small island in the river. It’s the financial district of Seoul, kind of the Wall Street of Korea. We quickly found the Korean Exchange, where I read there was a small museum dedicated to the securities industry and a viewing room from where visitors could look down on the trading floor. Once past security, we were led to a large cavernous room with many displays and ticker symbols and prices on large LED boards on the walls. The sign said that this room was the exchange. One of the exhibits explained that the KRX (Korean Exchange) went to all electronic trading a few years ago- guess my guidebook was out of date. Although I wasn’t able to see a real live trading floor, the place was interesting and their information displays were interesting: history of the Korean market, old stocks and bonds, synopsis of other large exchanges around the world, etc. It was unique addition to my circuit of Asia’s exchanges.

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