Revisited: Bank of Korea Museum (downtown Seoul)

Author’s note: ‘Revisited’ posts are intended to be a fresh look at a place I’ve visited before. In many cases, it will have been years between visits, and offers a chance to see a place with a fresh set of eyes (and more than likely, a much better camera than I had before!). While they won’t replace the old post, directions and information for visitors will always be included.

Revisiting places means paying attention to what’s new, what’s different, or what’s been made more unusual. The opening is similar enough, telling the history of the Bank of Korea – and how the country couldn’t have developed without their assistance.

There’s at least one computer that might be hard to use…

Because damaged banknotes have to be taken out of circulation and disposed of… or recycled… The tile and vibration-damping pads are made from the banknotes.

The picture doesn’t show how the notes were damaged, but presumably these were accepted for exchange around Korea. A nearby chart (not pictured) shows the rule for exchanging damaged notes at the bank.

You’ve always to examine money under a blacklight, haven’t you? A machine nearby tells you whether the note you insert is real or fake. Part of me wonders if the alarm goes off and the place goes into lockdown when a fake bill is inserted.

The next big section is more interactive, but not just for the kids. Personally, I’ve never seen anyone get excited over comparing inflation rate of different categories of goods, but then again I guess someone might.

A bit more bizarre – make like Cupid and shoot the good economic policies for points. Level 1 was easy enough, once you figured out the bubbles were color-coded. Level 2, however, required speed-reading – in Korean – before you could figure out which bubbles to pop.

Because it just isn’t a Korean museum if there isn’t a cutesy photo spot inside.

Ancient money, anyone? The central foyer of the first floor remains focused on currency and value-holding instrumentals from around the world.

Probably the closest most of us will ever get to the North Korean currency.

There’s little new on the second floor – crates of replica bills, money-making equipment, and so on. One new element:

Nothing quite like thinking of your money as a garden.

It’s well worth visiting – perhaps as part of a whirlwind trip around downtown Seoul. It’s within walking distance of Namdaemun, Myeongdong, and City Hall – and is just weird enough to make the topic interesting.

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

Ease to arrive:

Foreigner-friendly:

Convenience facilities:

Worth the visit:

Name: Bank of Korea Money Museum (한국은행 화폐 박물관)
Address: Seoul, Jung-gu, Namdaemun-ro-3-ga 110
Korean address: 서울특별시 중구 남대문로3가 110
Directions:  Three subway stations are roughly equidistant from the Bank of Korea Museum – City Hall station (line 1 or 2, exit 7), Euljiro-1-ga (line 2, exit 7), and Hoehyeon station (line 4, exit 7). You could follow the posted maps throughout this area of town; otherwise, the simplest way is probably from Euljiro’s station. Take exit 7 to street level, then follow the main road to the large intersection about 350 meters.
Hours: 10am-5pm (Tuesday through Sunday – closed Mondays and major holidays)
Admission: free.
Phone: 02-759-4881
Website: http://museum.bok.or.kr