* This post is written by Ana Park, one of the Korea Blog’s Worldwide Korea Bloggers.
One hot summer afternoon, my friends and I went to the National Assembly for a tour. The first time I visited the place was in 2010 with my family. I like that they open the area for tourists, local and foreigners alike, to learn more about the legislative function of the government.
To get there, I took the subway to National Assembly station on line 9. I got out from exit 6 and the gate to the compound was just a few meters away. I entered the gate freely and I was not asked for an ID but it would be best to bring one. I met my friends at the parking lot and then we walked to the Visitors Center.
We visited two buildings inside the compound of the National Assembly. First, we went to the Visitors Center – which is a two-story building located at the eastern side near the road where the cherry blossoms bloom in April. From the main entrance of the compound, one can take the free shuttle or walk for 350 meters.
At the Visitors Center, we went to the souvenir shop first. Then we saw a film about the National Assembly. It was in Korean and there was no English subtitle provided. After the screening, we proceeded to the various exhibit halls on the first and second floors. There is a hall displaying the gifts given by foreign dignitaries on the first floor.
At the middle of the building is a wide staircase leading to the second floor.
There visitors can have their pictures taken at the Speaker’s desk. There is also a room dedicated to the Speakers who became Presidents of Korea.
In another room, kids can pretend to be speakers of Congress.
Another hall has information on the different congress of the world. We didn’t visit that area during that day, but I went there before with my family.
After touring the Visitor Center, we took the free shuttle to the main building. We pass through security and received our Visitor IDs. We took the elevator and got off where the visitors can watch the plenary sessions. Congress was in recess so there was no session. There was a lecture on how Korea’s congress works and it was all in Korean. A few of my friends took naps during the 30-minute “lecture”.
When the tour of the Session Hall was over, we took the elevator to go down. We accidentally saw Rep. Jasmine Lee and her Chief of Staff as they were also going down. She invited as to her office at another building.
Jasmine Lee is now holding office in Congress, but she is still the same down-to-earth girl we know. At her office, she introduced her staff and she explained to us what she does. Her desk is covered with paperworks – with proposals on revisions she need to read and sign. On the round table across her desk are different newspapers.
You too can visit the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea. It’s free!
*Thanks to Razel for letting me use some of her photos.