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Teddy Bear Museum in Gyeongju

 

By Lauren Zink

 

The Teddy Bear Museum is fun for cubs and full-grown adults alike. This kitschy gem, located in the ancient Silla capital of Gyeongju, features exhibits celebrating Korean history, mythology, and fantasy – all portrayed by teddy bears, naturally. And the fun begins before you even enter the museum. Be on the lookout for a costumed teddy bear doing what looks to be a tae kwon do move, riding a dinosaur and pointing you toward the museum; it is located on the corner of the main road nearby and is most easily spotted by car. That alone should tell what you’re in store for. Once you arrive, be sure to snap a photo with the nuclear teddy bear family or with the giant, plush monster bear located directly outside the museum’s entrance. Your cuddly memories begin here.

 

 

Upon entering the museum, you will discover that it has three distinct worlds: two of them fantasy, one of them based on Korean history, and all of them equal parts weird and wonderful. Your journey begins with an adventure story ripped straight out of Jurassic Park. A gang of gun-toting, teddy bear bandits has stolen a time machine, transporting them back into the age of the dinosaurs, where they hope to sell the extinct animals for profit. They can only be stopped by a small but dedicated group of dinosaur lovers (teddy bear versions of the children and Dr. Grant from Michael Criton’s classic) — as well as teddy bear versions of Marty McFly and Doc from Back to the Future. Because, obviously. Teddy bears with guns plus dinosaurs plus animatronics plus the comical hair on the stuffed version of Doc equals solid gold, people. Bring your cameras; you’ve been warned.

Someday, an architect will uncover this statue, and the history of our civilization will be re-written. - Ed.

 

The next fantasy world comes from another classic movie: The Little Mermaid. Giggle at ginger-haired, teddy bear mermaids lounging in clam shells and stuffed fish hanging from the ceiling on fishing line as you’re serenaded by a knockoff version of “Under the Sea” from the speakers above. (It’s just close enough to the original that you might be fooled into thinking you’re listening to the Disney version.) My favorite part of this exhibit, however, was the sea king sitting on this underwater throne, being fanned and worshipped by a bevy of voluptuous mermaids.

 

 From here, it is on to the portion of the museum that discusses Korean history and mythology through the quirky medium of teddy bears. (Some of the dinosaurs from the previous exhibits have made their way over to these exhibits as well, through the magic of time travel.) Pause to watch the screens for an animated version of some of Korea’s myths. From there walk through galleries of teddy bears from the past and snap a photo of a giant teddy bear named “Modern Man,” who is clearly just a snugglier, plush version of Psy.

 

 

Bonuses in Gyeongju’s Teddy Bear Museum include a theater with regular screenings and a gift shop. Entrance fees are 6,000 Korean won for children and 9,000 Korean won for adults.

 

 

Address: 280-34, Bomun-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do

 

For more information: +82-54-742-7400 (Korean, English, Japanese)

 

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