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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

The Ulsan Museum

A while ago I wrote an article for a national magazine on Ulsan and the comments that it received were far from nice. They said that Ulsan was “the most boring, polluted and dirty cities” that they’ve had the “displeasure” of living in. One commenter also mentioned that Ulsan has “zero in the way of culture” These guys really gave it to our fair city and I felt that it was completely wrong.

On June 22nd, 2011 the Ulsan Museum opened its doors to show off the culture of Ulsan. Originally, I thought that it was just going to show off the ship building and oil refineries, like a huge standing commercial for SK and Hyundai. When I walked in, I got the feeling that there was something more. I was shocked to see how much actual culture there was in this city.

Admission is free for the Ulsan (permanent) exhibits but you do have to grab a ticket on the way in. When you ride the escalator up, take the right and, chronologically, the story of Ulsan unfolds for you. There is a lot of detail and history that is not just whaling, ships and cars. English services are available and I would say that they are almost needed as some of the pieces have a ton of story and information but the only English would be a one-word description.

Probably the closest you'll get the petroglyphs without swimming

The path then leads to the inevitable industry of Ulsan. However, they do it in an interesting way or at least I thought so. They give you glimpses into interesting areas and show you the hard work and unique things that are created in Ulsan. Did you know they started making sugar in Ulsan back in 1963? With creative exhibits they show you what goes on behind the closed gates of the factories around Ulsan.

Hyundai's exhibit

The permanent exhibit ends with an interactive board that you can leave a note on. If you also look at the mural (on the right, as you leave) you also see MY contribution!!  The photo of the Taehwa River walking bridge is mine! I had entered it into a competition held by the city and received an honorable mention. So this is where they used and I am happy that it is there.

Courtesy of yours truly, Jason Teale

For 5,000 won you can also check out the special exhibition of the “Fantastic Creatures” from the British Museum. I was really interested in this exhibit because it showed all of the cool creatures that the human mind has created throughout time. From Chinese dragons to the chimera. From sculptures to coins this exhibit covers everything that hollywood has shown us over the years. It is really interesting.

For 5,000 won you can tour the two exhibit halls and get a glimpse at the creatures and monsters from different cultures. There is more than enough to keep you interested here and there is still more. They really put time into making this museum very professional and not just some country village building with some old stuff thrown in. They did a great job.

There is also a children’s museum with tons of interactive activities from driving simulators to excavations. There is even a “circle theatre” that is equipped with a 360 degree screen. The “cafeteria” is actually a tastefully decorated “bistro” which also shocked me as I was totally expecting something resembling the emart shik-dang.

Overall, I was impressed with the new museum and it is a much better addition than the “whaling museum” by cultural standards. The location is easily accessible because it is located just up from the Gonguptap Rotary, nest to the entrance of Ulsan Grand Park. The grounds and the architecture are great and you also most seem to forget that you live in a “boring, polluted,  and dirty” city.

The only downsides, if any, are minor stemming from the lack of English at the ticket area and having a huge information desk (not for tickets) and a smaller almost unnoticeable desk for tickets. On the day that I went there seemed to be a lot of children also running around being noisy and destructive. I only wish that the ajummas watching out for people would pay more attention to the “little disturbances” than photographers taking shots of the exhibits. However, that is life and kids will be kids.  Just put on some music and enjoy the exhibits.

Useful Information:

Hours of Operation: 9 am – 6 pm

Fee: Free for the Ulsan Exhibit

5,000 won for the “Fantastic Creatures” special exhibit

Location: Next to the East gate of Ulsan Grand Park. Just up from Gonguptap Rotary



Ulsan Metropolitan City, Nam-gu

Doowangno 277 (In Ulsan Grand Park)

052-222-8501~2 (Korean language only)