Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fun at the Samsung Transportation Museum (교통 박물관)

This post is dedicated to my dear grandparents on my mother's side, for Grandpa's a retired transmission shop owner in Ohio who loved his cars. He would've enjoyed this place.

While looking up a Jeju car museum that my students had mentioned, I came across a page about the Samsung Transportation Museum, located near Everland in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do. It looked like a worthwhile destination, so I began Monday by writing the preceding post about the monsoon season and heading down there.

I almost didn't in. I shouldn't have gotten in. Despite looking at the web page multiple times to check where the bus stops were, I failed to notice that the museum's closed on Mondays. The man at the main gate informed me so. I'd traveled over an hour for nothing, or so I thought, because of a kind museum manager who called himself Ken. He happened to have seen me get turned away at the gate and got in his car to give me a ride into the place. When he pulled up, he said, "Hi, were you just at the gate? Sorry, the museum is inconvenient to get to and even though it is closed, I didn't want you go to go home without seeing it. You have come a long way, haven't you?"

I couldn't believe my luck. "Yes, from Seoul," I replied.
"Yes, the 5002 bus? It is hard to get here. Here, get in. I'll show you around."

And so I received free admission and a guided tour of the Transportation Museum. What kindness! He certainly didn't have to come go out of his way to let me in, but he did it anyway. We strolled around and conversed about the cars on display. He spoke excellent English and knew plenty about American cars. It felt great to walk among the Detroit steel of yore and talk about engine sizes again. I haven't done that in years. Here were immaculate our old cars like the Model T and the '57 Coupe de Ville--quintessential pieces of American culture and history on display in an out of the way museum near a major amusement park. But never mind the strange location. The museum's not large in size, but it does have a good cross section of automobile history in it. It wasn't just American cars on display, either. There were, of course, Korean cars like the Hyundai Pony and the Tiburon as well as Formula 1 racers and Mercedes limousines. Because the museum wasn't open, none of the numerous video screens were running, so I can't comment on them or the other video exhibits the place had. They did look impressive though! 

After seeing everything that could be seen, Ken generously gave a ride back to the bus platform at Everland. I couldn't thank him enough for letting this absent-minded foreigner in. In characteristic Korean fashion, he said, "You're welcome, no problem," in the manner of one saying, "Just doing my job." Maybe he wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary in his mind, but he was certainly doing an extraordinary thing from my perspective. 

Next to a '63 Corvette Stingray. The '63 model was the only one with a split rear window.

An "exploded" V-8 engine

Part of an exhibit showing the steps involved restoring cars

A late 1970s Hyundai Pony

A first generation Hyundai Tiburon racer

If anyone's interested in cars, check this place out. It's out of the way, but it is next to an amusement park, so maybe you can do two things at one. Ken mentioned that the museum doesn't see many foreign visitors, so maybe we can change that in the future.

How to get there:

From Gangnam Station exit 10: Take the red 5002 to Everland and take a shuttle or taxi to the Samsung Museum. The shuttle buses run at 10:00, 11:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, and 16:00. 
Note: the bus stop is located a block or two from exit 10. It is next to a tree and a few other buses stop there. 


Look for a post about random acts of Korean kindness in the future. Today marks but one instance of the overwhelming kindness and generosity I've witnessed from Koreans here. They've helped me (and me and R) out of more than a couple jams and often done so without being asked to help. I'm in awe of that. To Ken and anyone from the museum, thank you

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