Visiting South Korea: Typophile tips

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Jabez's picture
Joined: 24 Jul 2007 - 11:38pm
Visiting South Korea: Typophile tips

I'll be visiting South Korea (current plans include Seoul & Busan, maybe Jeju Island) for about 10 days in Mar/Apr 2012, would appreciate recommendations on sights a typophile might enjoy. Thanks in advance!


Currently on my radar:

1. Seoul Arts Centre
- Hangaram Art Museum
- Hangaram Design Museum
- Seoul Calligraphy Art Museum

2. National Museum of Korea

3. aA Design Museum


The Typography Seoul website only displays the exhibition calendar from Jan/Feb 2012.

The Design Seoul Tour site/handbook has some interesting recommendations:

Cheonggyecheon Design market
- Euljiro materials market
- Kwangjang Market
- Bangsan Market
- Dongdaemun Market
- Cheonggyecheon

Design Idea Street
- Sinsadong Garosugil
- Hongik Univ.
- Hyoja-ro

Aaron Bell's picture
Joined: 8 Apr 2009 - 3:50pm

Oooh. A type excursion to Korea huh?

I was in Seoul last year doing research for my dissertation and visited a number of typographic locations you might be interested in going to. I have to say, I didn't go to any of the places you mentioned—please let me know if they're worth going to sometime.

In any case, depending on what you're interested there's some great spots:

http://Cheongju Early Printing Museum: Not in Seoul, but Cheongju. Has a deep collection of early printed matter and documents techniques used for early printing. I really liked it.

Tium Hangeul Museum: Located in Heyri Art village (an hour bus from Seoul). Great little museum all about hangeul and various means of typesetting it. Owned and run by the CEO of Sandoll. While there, visit the Rural Life museum (which had a marvellous collection of old textbooks & ephemera) and the Chocolate house (which had one of the most delicious hot chocolates ever). 

Paju Book City: On the same bus route to Heyri. Though this city is the home of many publishers in Korea, it wasn't at all clear how to explore the collections nor the library supposedly on site. Of particular note, though, is a letterpress studio with full CJK character set and all the matrices needed to produce more metal type. You have to see this place to believe it. But they don't speak any English at all (made asking questions fun). Michael Green showed some pictures of it in http://this post (toward the bottom).

Sejong Statue: Out in front of the imperial palace there's a monument to King Sejong. Go around back and down the stairs into the special Sejong exhibit underground. Has original documents of some of the really important Hangeul documents from the 1400s and various highlights of Sejong's career. The Singijeon (rocket arrows) was pretty cool, but in general there wasn't much of interest to me besides the old books (I knew all of Hangeul's History already). 

Samseong Museum of Publishing: Small little place, not a ton of interesting documents, but it has rotating exhibits.

http://Modern Design Museum: Smallish, but pretty cool little museum. Some lovely old documents including one of the first Hangeul newspapers. No photos allowed tho, sadly, and no museum exhibit book. Boo.

Other than these, just wander around the neighbourhoods and you'll find all sorts of exciting lettering on signage and such. I look forward to going back!

Hope that is useful to you. Let me know if I can help more!

Jabez's picture
Joined: 24 Jul 2007 - 11:38pm

It's especially helpful to hear from someone who's been there personally. I've been to 'museums' which turned out to be little more than an enthusiast's personal collection. Not diminishing those types of collections in any way, but it's helpful to know what to expect.

Ha. I wish I could call this a type excursion, but it's really a holiday with my wife & friends. Just trying to put together as much information as possible so I can prioritize. Thanks for the tips!

Just found out about Bosu-dong Book Street in Busan. Looks interesting.