The Gwangseongbo battle during “Sinmiyangyo” or clash between American and Korean forces in 1871 is shown as replicas at the Ganghwa History Museum on Ganghwa Island, Incheon.
By Shim Hyun-chul
Ganghwa Island packs a whole lot of Korea’s history into a relatively small area. Consequently it is nicknamed a “roofless museum.” With military stations and dolmens registered in December 2000 as a UNESCO World Heritage, the island showcases relics of the past.
In particular Ganghwa History Museum is an important stop on a visit to the island west of Seoul. The history of the entire peninsula can be witnessed inside.
Cross Ganghwa Bridge and take Route 48 toward Ganghwa County Office and the Ganghwa Dolmen Park will gradually come into view. The museum is located in the park. Established in October 2010 the museum’s purpose is to preserve and study the cultural heritages of Ganghwa and exhibit them. One will be able to view the history and culture of Ganghwa through the cultural properties dating back to the prehistoric age through to the modern and present age. With a total floor area of 4,223 square meters composed of two ground floors and one underground, the museum has a number of subsidiary facilities such as the permanent and special exhibition halls, a video room, an auditorium and a museum shop.
Among the items at the permanent exhibition hall are the relics excavated from historic sites from the prehistoric age of Ganghwa and the royal tombs of Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392), as well as collections from traditional Buddhist temples. On the first floor one can see the commander’s flag of General Eo Jae-yeon of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910). Right next to it is the Ganghwa Bronze Bell cast by monk Sainbigu during the reign of King Sukjong of Joseon. The “Draft for the Korean-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce,” which was prepared by Lee Hong-jang in 1882 recalls the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement.
The special exhibition hall brings in objects from outside. In addition, the video room and educational programs facilitate the understanding of the history of Ganghwa, acting as a cultural complex for not only local residents but also tourists.
For more information about Ganghwa History Museum, visit the website http://museum.ganghwa.go.kr or call (032) 934-7887.