I’ve been a fan of the television show starring Jack Palance since the early 1980s. Each week Mr. Palance would introduce strange stories from around the globe that were true and sometimes, too true to believe. These stories inspired me to learn more about the world and see things for myself.
Robert Ripley traveled the world years before I did, finding odd stories and printing them in cartoonish panes for many US newspapers. The features then moved to radio, film, and finally television. In my opinion, he was the first person of the modern age that really tried to make the world a little smaller by showing us all how unique we can be.
When it was announced that Jeju would be the newest home to America’s most famous curiosity museum, I knew I’d have to make a pilgrimage. Press releases noted that the museum would contain some 700 examples of Ripley’s collection near the beautiful Jungmun Resort (Seogwipo City). It also marked the 32nd location and 11th country the franchise has launched.
Finding the museum, proved to be more difficult than I imagined for two reasons. For one, no press release had the address. But the more complicating matter happened to be no one called it the “Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum.” On Jeju, it’s only referred to by its Korean name: 믿가나 말 거나 박 물관. This slight setback did not stop us! We found a great person in the tourism office to surf the Internet and found the correct information from the Ripley’s homepage.
Now we were set and by the end of the day, I found myself purchasing admission tickets. The museum is broken down into twelve separate galleries. Each section features several full-sized artifacts from the Ripley collection in addition to smaller items. Throughout the entire complex are panels from the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! newspaper series highlighting Korean stories.
I was like a kid in a candy store. I couldn’t help but to stop and look at each item, read its history, and ponder its implications. While navigating the galleries, my eyes routinely became glued to many of the televisions airing clips from the classic and newer Believe It or Not! series. But nothing caught my attention more than the shrunken heads on display.
We took a leisurely pace through the complex and hit everything in just over an hour. The museum isn’t large enough to be the focal point of one’s trip to Seogwipo, but with many tourist locations close-by, it’s a great addition to one’s outing.
Address: 2864-2, Saekdal-dong, Seogwipo-shi, Jeju, SOUTH KOREA
Admission: Child: W5,000 / Youth: 6,000 / Adult: W7,000
Hours: 9am – 8pm (Summer hours extend until 10pm)
How to get there: From Jeju-si, take an airport limousine or intercity bus bound for Seogwipo-si and get off at the Jungmun Tourist Complex. From within Seogwipo, take an airport limousine or intercity bus and exit at the Jungmun Tourist Complex. The museum is 5-10 minutes from most hotels in the Jungmun Resort area.