It’s absolutely wild to me that we’re at the end of January. It’s also wild to me that we’re under five months until we have to leave South Korea and we start our journey to our new home in Alaska. It’s slow season right now for my photography, which has been such a blessing because after a busy holiday season, I have time with my family to enjoy quiet weekends whilst I also train for the Seoul Marathon (more to come on that one). We’ve had some cold but gorgeous weather lately, so we decided we didn’t want to squander a precious weekend (there’s not too many left!), and we made our way to the Independence Hall of Korea in Cheonan – something we’ve wanted to do for a while.
Independence Hall of Korea in Cheonan (독립기념관)
We love a good outdoor adventure, but with the temps lately, we decided to combine the best of both worlds. The Independence Hall of Korea is nestled in the hillside in Cheonan, tucked away pretty inconspicuously from the general hustle and bustle, but it’s absolutely jaw-dropping once you get close. This Korean history museum is right up Ryan’s alley because he was a history major in his former life, so it definitely speaks to that history buff corner of his brain.
Moreover, we had a really good AQI day for this one, which was phenomenal. While normally popular in the summer to explore the grounds, enjoy picnics, and explore the indoor/outdoor exhibits, it was quite quiet on a cold January day, so the kids loved the opportunity to run amidst the flags in Taeguk Square and explore while we climbed the stairs to the Grand Hall of the Nation. Plus, there’s something just breathtaking about standing in the shadow of the Monument to the Nation – which is designed to look like hands in prayer, or wings reaching to the sky – so incredible.
Exhibits at the Independence Hall of Korea
There are eight main exhibit halls at the Independence Hall of Korea. In the first, visitors can explore historical and cultural artifacts, most hailing from the prehistoric ages through the late Joseon Dynasty. The second exhibit details Japanese imperialism and the adversity Koreans faced in the late 19th century. The third exhibit is all about historical photographs showcasing patriotic independence movements, and the fourth offers up historical records, showcasing them for all to see.
Exhibit five features dioramas and models regarding armed resistance and independence efforts, while the sixth showcases artifacts pertaining to Japanese colonial rule. The kids loved the seventh exhibit most of all because it’s aimed towards kiddos as an “experience” hall and uses technology with which you can interface to learn more about Korean history and the spirit of the country. There is also a mixed multimedia theatre that plays different films throughout the day, but we arrived at the wrong time to see a flick.
The Grand Hall of the Nation, however, was my favorite part because it was just so vast. It felt like we were in the footsteps of giants. South Korea seems to be overlooked quite often from our side of the world, but here? It feels big, and it’s such a presence – especially within the main hall.
Visiting the Independence Hall of Korea
Address: For Naver – 충청남도 천안시 동남구 목천읍 독립기념관로 1 ; For Waze – 1, Dongnipginyeomgwan-ro, Dongnam-gu, Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do
Price: Admission is free for all exhibits. You only pay for parking. Our passenger car was W2,000, and larger vehicles are W3,000. Electric and hybrid vehicles are W1,000.
Amenities Onsite: There are multiple restaurants, cafes, a snack bar, a souvenir shop, a tram, and more onsite. There are multiple restrooms throughout the grounds, each featuring changing rooms and children’s toilets, as well. There are translated pamphlets for visitors in English, Chinese, and Japanese.
Accessibility: The majority of the facilities are accessible with wheelchair ramps, though some exhibits (like the multimedia theatre) cannot accommodate all needs.