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Closed schools reborn as tourist attractions

By Jun Ji-hye

Several schools in rural areas have faced closure as the families of many students opted to leave the countryside for larger cities.

Among the closed schools, some have become hideous objects that seemed to be haunted, while others have been reborn as tourist attractions such as museums that carry tourists' thoughts back to the past.

The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has selected six tourist attractions that evolved from closed schools across the nation, saying they are worthy of a visit in June.

Deokpojin Museum of Education

Deokpojin Museum of Education, which opened in 1996 in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province, displays about 7,000 items used at schools in the past, bringing back memories of student days.

Visitors experience an old classroom in Deokpojin Museum of Education located in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province. / Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization
Visitors experience an old classroom in Deokpojin Museum of Education located in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province. / Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization

The private museum was set up by former elementary school teacher Kim Dong-seon for his wife Lee In-sook who also was an elementary school teacher and lost her sight in an accident.

Kim established the museum to give hope to his wife who had fallen into despair with the fact that she could no longer teach students at schools.

At the old classroom at the museum, Lee is playing a reed organ while running a music class.

Kim also holds a class in which he tells stories about schooldays in the 1950s and 1960s, showing old textbooks and a lunchbox.

The museum, which lets visitors take a trip down memory lane, has become popular among men and women of all ages.

Samcheok Miro Garden

The Doota Branch School of Miro Elementary School that was closed in 1999 was remodeled into Samcheok Miro Garden in May 2017, under the theme of "You don't age in Miro."

The garden, located about 13 kilometers away from downtown Samcheok, Gangwon Province, comprised of a variety of sites including the Tofu Experience Site and the Wild Flower Experience Site.

The playground has four campgrounds and six bungalows as well as a pool in which visitors can canoe.

Visitors canoe at a pool of Samcheok Miro Garden, Gangwon Province. / Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization
Visitors canoe at a pool of Samcheok Miro Garden, Gangwon Province. / Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization

Visitors are also invited to walk the 2.2 kilometer-long trail.

The garden operates a restaurant that can accommodate 80 people, offering bibimbap, fermented soybean soup and kimchi pancakes, among other items.

Hongcheon Art Camp

The Daebong Branch School of Naechon Elementary School that was closed in 1999 was remodeled into travel accommodation, called Hongcheon Art Camp, in October 2012.

The facility has become a popular venue for alumni reunion or company workshops.

The facility has also become a venue for artists to hold music concerts or art exhibitions.

Rooms that have been transformed from old classrooms make those in their 40s and 50s remember their childhood with nostalgia.

Huge ginkgo trees and chestnut tree stand on the playground as if they know the past.

Yeongwol Media Journalist Museum

Yeongwol, Gangwon Province, is known for diverse museums. Among those, its Media Journalist Museum that has been transformed from a closed school in 2012 and is aimed at helping children understand the media.

The museum, which is headed by former Hankook Ilbo photo journalist Koh Myung-jin, is comprised of three exhibit halls, an outdoor exhibit area and a pressroom.

The museum has been attracting many tourists, especially families with children, as it operates the one-day journalist experience program that offers a chance of experiencing the job.

Visitors can make their own family newspaper and travel newspaper.

Book Village Haeri

A closed school in Gochang, North Jeolla Province, was reopened as a book village called Book Village Haeri, becoming a cultural space that offers visitors various information and experiences related to books and publication.

A visitor looks at books at Book Village Haeri in Gochang, North Jeolla Province. / Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization
A visitor looks at books at Book Village Haeri in Gochang, North Jeolla Province. / Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization

Anyone can become a writer when visiting the book village that operates a poet school, cartoon school and publication camp. So far, about 100 books have been published through those programs.

The book village also operates a book cafe and a tree library.

Yeonhong Island

Yeonhong Island at the southwestern tip of Goheung County, South Jeolla Province, invites tourists to art museums and sculptures filling the island.

Yeonhong Art Museum opened in 2006 after the remodeling of closed Yeonhong Branch School of Elementary School.

Displays of junk art products are at the playground, while other sculptures and exhibits stand from place to place on the island.


By Jun Ji-hye

Several schools in rural areas have faced closure as the families of many students opted to leave the countryside for larger cities.

Among the closed schools, some have become hideous objects that seemed to be haunted, while others have been reborn as tourist attractions such as museums that carry tourists' thoughts back to the past.

The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has selected six tourist attractions that evolved from closed schools across the nation, saying they are worthy of a visit in June.

Deokpojin Museum of Education

Deokpojin Museum of Education, which opened in 1996 in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province, displays about 7,000 items used at schools in the past, bringing back memories of student days.

Visitors experience an old classroom in Deokpojin Museum of Education located in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province. / Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization
Visitors experience an old classroom in Deokpojin Museum of Education located in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province. / Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization

The private museum was set up by former elementary school teacher Kim Dong-seon for his wife Lee In-sook who also was an elementary school teacher and lost her sight in an accident.

Kim established the museum to give hope to his wife who had fallen into despair with the fact that she could no longer teach students at schools.

At the old classroom at the museum, Lee is playing a reed organ while running a music class.

Kim also holds a class in which he tells stories about schooldays in the 1950s and 1960s, showing old textbooks and a lunchbox.

The museum, which lets visitors take a trip down memory lane, has become popular among men and women of all ages.

Samcheok Miro Garden

The Doota Branch School of Miro Elementary School that was closed in 1999 was remodeled into Samcheok Miro Garden in May 2017, under the theme of "You don't age in Miro."

The garden, located about 13 kilometers away from downtown Samcheok, Gangwon Province, comprised of a variety of sites including the Tofu Experience Site and the Wild Flower Experience Site.

The playground has four campgrounds and six bungalows as well as a pool in which visitors can canoe.

Visitors canoe at a pool of Samcheok Miro Garden, Gangwon Province. / Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization
Visitors canoe at a pool of Samcheok Miro Garden, Gangwon Province. / Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization

Visitors are also invited to walk the 2.2 kilometer-long trail.

The garden operates a restaurant that can accommodate 80 people, offering bibimbap, fermented soybean soup and kimchi pancakes, among other items.

Hongcheon Art Camp

The Daebong Branch School of Naechon Elementary School that was closed in 1999 was remodeled into travel accommodation, called Hongcheon Art Camp, in October 2012.

The facility has become a popular venue for alumni reunion or company workshops.

The facility has also become a venue for artists to hold music concerts or art exhibitions.

Rooms that have been transformed from old classrooms make those in their 40s and 50s remember their childhood with nostalgia.

Huge ginkgo trees and chestnut tree stand on the playground as if they know the past.

Yeongwol Media Journalist Museum

Yeongwol, Gangwon Province, is known for diverse museums. Among those, its Media Journalist Museum that has been transformed from a closed school in 2012 and is aimed at helping children understand the media.

The museum, which is headed by former Hankook Ilbo photo journalist Koh Myung-jin, is comprised of three exhibit halls, an outdoor exhibit area and a pressroom.

The museum has been attracting many tourists, especially families with children, as it operates the one-day journalist experience program that offers a chance of experiencing the job.

Visitors can make their own family newspaper and travel newspaper.

Book Village Haeri

A closed school in Gochang, North Jeolla Province, was reopened as a book village called Book Village Haeri, becoming a cultural space that offers visitors various information and experiences related to books and publication.

A visitor looks at books at Book Village Haeri in Gochang, North Jeolla Province. / Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization
A visitor looks at books at Book Village Haeri in Gochang, North Jeolla Province. / Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization

Anyone can become a writer when visiting the book village that operates a poet school, cartoon school and publication camp. So far, about 100 books have been published through those programs.

The book village also operates a book cafe and a tree library.

Yeonhong Island

Yeonhong Island at the southwestern tip of Goheung County, South Jeolla Province, invites tourists to art museums and sculptures filling the island.

Yeonhong Art Museum opened in 2006 after the remodeling of closed Yeonhong Branch School of Elementary School.

Displays of junk art products are at the playground, while other sculptures and exhibits stand from place to place on the island.


Jun Ji-hye jjh@koreatimes.co.kr

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