Third day in Seoul – Dawon Tea House, War Memorial and Tosokchon Samgyetang
Getting in late last night led to a lazy morning. We ventured out at lunchtime in search of the Dawon Tea House at the Kyung-in Art Museum (11-4, Insadong 10-gil).
Upon arrival, we were promptly seated at the window overlooking the complex’s courtyard. Our order was taken shortly afterwards.
I ordered the cinnamon punch while Tom got the ginseng tea. We also ordered honey rice cakes and a big mochi to share. My punch was very sweet and very cinnamon-y, but quite refreshing. The rice cakes and mochi were only slightly sweet and pretty moreish. Surprisingly, we were quite full once finished.
Cost: 7,000 won (6.22 USD) per tea, 5,000 won (4.44 USD) for rice cakes and 2,000 won (1.78 USD) for the mochi. Probably expensive for what is was, but the experience was worth it.
We then took the subway to the War Memorial (29, Itaewon-ro) in time for the 2 pm English tour. Entrance to the War Memorial is free, but they do accept donations.
Our tour guide was a retired gentleman who had been volunteering at the memorial for 10 years. He gave us a brief summary of the war, then had us watch a film explaining what happened in greater detail (approx. 18 minutes long). He then took us to a 4D experience with 3D glasses and a moved platform, which we were seated and fixed into, while we watched a 7 minute video from a first person perspective of what it was like to participate in the war. He explained a few more interactive exhibits, before deposited us in another 4D movie. This time I think the 4th dimension was “freezing during winter” as the air-conditioning seemed to be turned up to maximum in the room! The story was about one gentleman’s story as he experienced the war. A few more exhibits explained and the tour was done.
The memorial could be viewed without the guided tour, but I think doing the tour really brought it all together. There are many interactive displays within the memorial and one could easily spend the entire day there. There is a free audioguide system in place which can be accessed from your own mobile phone (but I didn’t personally try it out so I can’t tell you if it works or if the quality is any good); the memorial has free wifi to facilitate access.
The memorial has six halls, each with their own theme: Memorial, War History, Korean War and UN Participation, Donated Relics, Expeditionary Forces and ROK Armed Forces. I decided to not take photos within the war memorial during our visit to absorb what the memorial presented, and interactive displays are not necessarily photogenic displays. We spent 4 hours at the memorial and had museum burn out by the end. My plan to also visit the Korean National Museum nearby was scrapped and we decided to head back north for an early dinner.
Disembarking at Gyeongbokgung station, we made our way to Tosokchon Samgyetang (5, Jahamun-ro 5-gil), the most popular ginseng chicken soup establishment in Seoul. The chicken is stuffed with short-grained rice and the soup also contains ginseng, chestnuts, Korean dates, garlic, ginger, perilla seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, pine nuts and black sesame. Probably due to the early hour, there was no queue when we arrived and we were seated straight away in traditional seating.
The soup tasted very nourishing and came with kimchi (of course), tea and a shot of ginseng liquor (very, very strong).
We wandered for a bit through Bukchon for a bit before heading back to the AirBnB. It’s been a pretty heavy day even though we did less than the day before.