If you’re really interested in learning more about Korean culture but can’t afford the plane ticket yet, why not pop over to the British Museum? Room 67 holds the Korea Foundation Collection where you can find a wide range of information about Korea along with interesting objects and artefacts. The displays hold items that date from prehistory to the present day and include ceramics, metalwork, sculpture, painting, screen-printed books and illuminated manuscripts which date from 5000 BC – AD 1900.
The Korea Foundation was set up in 2000 and has an extensive range of material to look at. Many of the items were generously lent to the British Museum or acquired thanks to expert help. For instance, thanks to Hahn Kwang-ho, CBE, after giving the Trustees a generous gift, they were able to establish a purchase fund for Korean works of art. Many objects have been either bought using the Hahn foundation fund or have been lent by Dr. Hahn Kwang-ho himself. It’s these close relations that have allowed the British Museum to amass such an amazing array of Korean artefacts on display.
The set up of Room 67 is very well arranged. It’s big and simple in its layout, with information easy to find and objects grouped together by similarity or subject. The written information is highly detailed and provides visitors with clear information about the objects and also gives a brief but helpful history of the period the objects are from. There are even timelines and maps dotted around so those who want to find out more can have all their questions answered.
You can find anything in the collection from jewellery and ornamental boxes to armour and statues. There’s so much to look at, if you don’t keep track of time you’ll find yourself lost in there for hours! If you want to preview some of the objects and find out information about certain items, you can look at some of the pieces on the British Museum website here. There’s even a recreation Sarangbang/사랑방! Contrary to what we assumed a sarangbang was, which in our heads was literally a love room, it actually served as a man’s study. A much more practical use of space than what we were picturing initially.
We were particularly fond of the collection of scripts available. As Korean language students it was really interesting to see how the Korean language went from Hanja (Chinese Characters) to Hangul. From our Hangul Day post we mentioned how when the Korean alphabet was developed, there was originally 28 characters which has since been downsized to 24. It was great to be able to see some writing from the period where these obsolete characters were still in use. We even spotted some very interesting unrecognisable calligraphy so make sure you take a closer look!
The British Museum is a wonderful London attraction, and Room 67 will no doubt be a great place to visit for all people interested in Korean culture. With lots to see and read about, it’s a must go destination for anyone looking to learn more about Korean history! More pictures of the gallery can be seen here.
The British Museum is located near Tottenham court road, Holborn, Russell Square and Goodge Street. You can find more directions on their website here. It is open from 10am to 5pm everyday except Fridays where it opens until 20:30 and it’s free entry for all!