Perhaps the fondest memories I have of growing up is helping my dad with his train sets. As an engineer, he really enjoyed learning how things worked. In his spare time, he would carefully recreate mountain passes with rolling hills, majestic waterfalls, and tunnels. Once the landscape was complete, he’d lay track for his narrow gauge model railroad. Every week he’d disappear for hours into his own little world. It’s no wonder that since that time, I’ve grown to love seeing the real thing, which made traveling to Uiwang (의왕) to see KORAIL’s museum extra special.
The Museum was something I passed on a near daily basis traveling along Seoul’s Subway Line Number One. Like a moth drawn to a flame, I knew it wouldn’t be too long before I would set foot on its grounds. As we approached the main gates, I could already see that it would be an enormous playground for me. Countless parents and children were lining up to take pictures and crawl in and out of the items on display.
The Museum is divided into two areas: outdoor and indoor. For most (myself included), the outdoor exhibits will be the most entertaining. Here, visitors will find several locomotives and passenger cars dating back from the turn of the previous century. Many of these exhibits will allow curiosity seekers the chance to climb inside and relive those glorious railroad days of yesteryear. In fact, one dining car has been established for those wanting to make use of the snacking facilities.
Inside, more than 4000 items have been curated. These recount Korea’s rail history in great detail. However, there is little, if any information in English. This may be a little off-putting to non-Korean speakers, but if one truly loves trains, the exhibits transcend words. The most thrilling exhibit for youngsters is perhaps the train simulator.
In this hands-on exhibit, youths can sit in a chair and watch a monitor facing forward. Using a throttle control, they can move the train down a set of tracks, with each click and clack moving the engineer’s seat. Another fun exhibit for children is the signal crossing display. When a child (or adult) presses a button, the caution arms descend.
The biggest draw of the museum is the large panoramic model train display. Admission to this mini-theater is an additional 300 원, and worth it. Inside an entire recreation of downtown Seoul has been made, complete with the historic Seoul Station. An operator narrates (in Korean) stories about the various kinds of trains while sending them around the tracks.
Address: Gyeonggi-do Uiwang-si Woram-dong 374-1
Phone: +82-31-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese); +82-31-461-3610 (Korean)
Hours: 9am-6pm. Closed Mondays, the day after a holiday, January 1st, Lunar New Year’s and Chuseok (Korean thanksgiving), holidays designated by the Korail president.
Individuals: Adults (ages 19-64) 500 won, Children & Teenagers (ages 7-18) 300 won
Groups (30 and more): Adults 400 won, Children & Teenagers 200 won
FREE for railroad members +1 (must show card).
Getting there: Take Subway Line 1 to Uiwang Station. Walk out Exit 2 and take bus 1-2 or 3-1 to Korea National Railroad College. Get off the bus and walk 100m to the museum.