Destination: Geoje Shipbuilding Marine Museum (Geoje-do, Gyeongsangnam-do)

As a peninsula, Korea has had plenty of reasons to develop industries that play nice with the water mostly surrounding it. Centuries before Korea became North and South, there was plenty of shipbuilding activities, though much of the rhetoric is more recent. Yes, it looks like a ship, but the ‘mast’ actually serves as a look out over the southern sea.

If you arrive earlier in the day, you can also take in the 거제어촌민속전시관 (Geo-je eo-chon min-sok jeon-shi-gwan), or the Geoje Fishing Village Folk Museum right next door. This full-size version of Yi Sun-shin’s turtle ship is in-between the two much larger museums.

Stop by the automated ticket machine (complete with human attendant, which makes you wonder exactly where the cost savings is), then enter:

This museum is brought to you (or at least indirectly sponsored) by Samsung – and you thought they just made flat-screen TV’s and phones…

We walked up to the second floor to begin the tour – the first floor has a few exhibits and one of the biggest children’s playrooms I’ve ever seen inside a museum.

The second floor features a look back at some of the classic ships throughout the centuries – presenting the Titanic from 1912. Strangely enough, there were two ships named Titanic, with the same name tag, that managed to look completely different…

It’s at this point where we realized we were going completely backwards. We went for it anyway – a museum’s a museum, and going backward is sometimes more fun anyway.

A look back at the second floor and the propellers along the wall.

One of the biggest propellers around. Not pictured are plenty of engines and other parts you’d find on modern ships.

It wouldn’t be a Korean museum without at least a little bit of hyperbole and nationalism, now would it? The country does have at least three other sites that pay tribute to Admiral Yi Sun-shin, and to be clear he is considered one of the country’s leading heroes, second only to King Sejong himself.

Were we going the correct way, this exhibit would have made more sense – ships from the Western world through the centuries.

It’s here where the exhibit began to show some cracks – in a timeline of the 2nd century is not where a Japanese voltmeter from 1978 belongs.

This claim seems quite convenient… The Korea Times reported on this discovery in August of 2012, though neither they nor the museum seems to have heard of the Pesse canoe, which has been dated from between 8040 BCE and 7510 BCE.

Not pictured is the 4D simulator, which runs about once an hour and enables you to explore the ocean floor in all the dimensions man can make.

The one dimension we sought out, however, was up:

The ‘ship’ is right next to the water, meaning the fifth floor overlook makes the most of its view. The  two sets of powerful binoculars zoom in to hundreds of meters away, while the other panels feature partially-functioning touch-screens and static pictures of nearby tourist attractions. The view really is the highlight here.

Overall, the museum is less about how ships are built and more about promoting Korea’s rightful standing amongst the elite shipbuilding countries. While mildly entertaining, the place didn’t really seem to tie the industry to most anything mere mortals would be interested in. Lost in all the technology and gee-whiz looping videos are the benefits commercial ships offer.

Ratings (out of 5 taeguks - How do I rate destinations?):

Ease to arrive:

Foreigner-friendly:

Convenience facilities:

Worth the visit:

Name: Geoje Shipbuilding Marine Cultural Center (거제조선해양문화관)
Address: Gyeongsangnam-do Geoje-si Il-un-myeon Jisepo-ri 316
Korean address: 경상남도 거제시 일운면 지세포리 316
Directions: Start from Geoje-do’s bus terminal (AKA Gohyeon Bus Terminal). Exit, then look right for bus 22, 22-1, 23, or 23-1. Buses 11, 30, 30-1, 31, 31-1, 61, and 66 may also work, but confirm with the bus driver – the signs and the reality seemed to be in perpetual conflict. Whatever bus you get on, stop by the store first for a snack or drink – it’ll be over an hour’s worth of ridetime. You’ll see the gigantic ship on your left – officially, the bus stop name is 신촌마을 (Shin-chon Ma-eul)
Hours: 9am-6pm (admission closes at 5pm)
Admission: 3,000 won (the 4D Simulator is an extra 2,000 won)
Phone: 055-639-8270
Website: http://www.geojemarine.or.kr

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