One late Saturday afternoon, we decided to visit the National Folk Museum located at the Gyeongbok Palace complex. We were supposed to visit the Seodaemun Natural Museum but we had a travel emergency and decided to just go to Gyeongbok. We didn’t go inside the palace itself since it was late and we didn’t want to pay entrance fees. It took us about half an hour to have our smallish car parked. The distance between the parking space and the entrance to the National Folk Museum is about a 300-meter walk!
At the right, outside the National Folk Museum, is a model street of the 1970s Korea. An old tram will greet you at the entrance of the street. There are three building blocks housing a barber shop, coffee shop, restaurant, comic books store, radio repair shop, photo studio, classroom and a boutique.
THE BARBER SHOP. The building block to the right houses the barber and the coffee shops. Visitors are not allowed to enter. Inside, there are three barber chairs, a few cabinets, a transistor radio and even a 1970 calendar.
THE COFFEE SHOP. Visitors can buy the 300-won coffee from the vending machine inside the coffee shop and sit around any of the four tables. That was exactly what we did. The rectangular tables are covered in vinyl tablecloth that reminded me of the tables at our own restaurant in Angeles City when we first opened in 1979.
At the left side of the coffee shop is a garage that houses an actual Hyundai “Pony” car in blue.
THE RESTAURANT is surprisingly not like the “ondol” style ones we see in Seoul, where people sit on the floor. This one has tables and stools. The kitchen equipmets are the traditional Korean ones made of indigenous materials. There is a menu board on the wall and sample dishes on the tables.
COMIC BOOKS STORE. I learned to read Tagalog through “komiks” like Aliwan, Superstar, Pinoy and the likes when I was a lot younger. During those times, we would rent them for ten centavos at our “suking tindahan”.
RADIO REPAIR SHOP. Inside the radio repair shop are several transistor radios and casette recorders. There is also an old black and white stand-alone television set, similar to the ones we had back in the 1970’s before we had our first Sony colored television in 1981. There is a display cabinet of vinyl records and albums that can be played with a turntable. Back in those days, my second sister would sometimes travel to Manila from Angeles City just to buy the “needle” that is used with the turntable in Raon.
PHOTO STUDIO. Back in the 1970s, it was fashionable to take a picture of a one-year old baby in his birthday suit with his “little pepper” in full view. In this model photo studio, visitors can try on the high school uniforms on display and have their pictures taken.
DRESS SHOP. The dress shop is not open for visitors but there are two dresses on display. Look at the poster below. Korean drama fans should know who she is ;p
CLASSROOM. That thing in the middle of the classroom is the heater and on top of it are “dosirak” or lunchboxes.
ETC. Etc… A 1970s bike, a shoe repair box and cigarettes – Geum Jandi and Arirang!
If you find yourself visiting Gyeongbok Palace (the main palace in Gwanghwamun), don’t forget to drop by the National Folk Museum.