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Photo Essay: A Teddy Bear Museum on Jeju Island?

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Photo Essay: A teddy bear museum on Jeju Island?

Do you like to visit museums when you travel? What’s the  cutest, quirkiest or most bizarre museum you’ve been to?

I was an art major in college, so to some degree, I’ll take interest in museums from time-to-time. But what about a Chocolate Museum, Sex Museums, a Trick Art Museum or a Sound Museum?  Jeju Island has loads of unique museums and things to do to pass time with.

Read Top 8 Things to Do on Jeju Island.

But how about Teddy Bears?

Personally, I never cared for them as a kid, so why would I visit a museum full of ’em, as an adult?

Why?

At the Teddy Bear Museum on Jeju Island and popular film location of Korean dramas, such as Gung– the teddy bears do more than just sit in glass cases waiting for love. These teddies make art history, play out war enactments,  impersonate famous stars, such as Elvis and Marilyn, depict Korean history and even act out scenes from popular movies, like Titanic.

Imagine the human world replaced by these furry partners. You just entered The Planet of the Teddies.

The Origin of Teddy Bears

If you’ve never followed Teddy Bear history, you might not know the toys originated after an incident, when former 1902 U.S. President Theodore (“Teddy”) Roosevelt went bear hunting. Many hunters had killed an animal, so Roosevelt’s attendants chased down and clubbed a baby Black Bear and tied it to a tree for him to shoot.  The president found this “un-sportsmanlike” and refused to shoot it but ordered that it be shot and put out of its misery. A stuffed animal toy was created not long after and it was given the name ‘Teddy’s Bear’.

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Teddy Bear “Goong” (Korean drama) Bear

 

Teddy Bear Museums around the World

The first teddy bear museum was built in 1984 in Petersfield, Hampshire, England.

Since then, many teddy bear museums have sprouted up around the world. Korea built its first teddy bear museum in 2001 and now there are three locations: Jeju Island, Namsan Seoul Tower (here), Paju Heyri and they’ve even opened a museum in Hawaii, where they have a Barack Obama bear.

jeju teddy bear museum entrance

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Teddy Bear Art History

There are many exhibitions in the museum and over a 1,000 different types of bears from bears in mechanized motion, miniatures, life-sized ones, childhood character bears like Paddington, Swarovski crystal studded bears, the list goes on… and it doesn’t get boring.

My favorite part of the museum was the Art History section.  A teddy Mona Lisa, a Warhol and a handful of scenes from famous Renaissance works. It was pretty impressive.

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Mona Lisa Bear        the thinker statue, thinker bear at jeju teddy bear museum                            The Thinker

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Popular Korean dramas and the Teddy Bear Museum

But let’s get down to the real reason I sought out the museum. If you’ve ever seen the popular Korean drama show, The Palace (or Gung or Princess Diaries), then you’ll know part of the fascination tourists visiting Korea can have with Jeju’s Teddy Bear Museum.

The show features cute opening and closing scenes with teddies re-enacting scenes which took place in the show. Not to mention, an episode is shot at the museum. In a way, the popularity of the television series has helped popularize the museum for tourists like myself, visiting Korea.

Read How to Make your own Korean Drama Tour

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My visit to the Teddy Museum was surprisingly fun. It ranks high on the ‘awwww cute‘ factor. Inevitably, I ended up buying one of these furry creatures  at the museum store.

Would I go again? Yes. In fact, I visited it on a trip to Jeju a few months later.

 

Information:

The Teddy Bear Museum
Jungmun Resort Area, Jeju Island.
Hours: 09:00 ~ 19:00 (tickets on sale until 18:00)

Getting to the Teddy Bear Museum from Jeju City:

– Take a taxi to Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal (Base fare 1,000 won).
– From Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, take a bus (Jungmun Express Bus)and get off at  Jungmun Tourist Complex (50 min ride).
– From Jeju International Airport, take an airport limousine bus No. 600 and get off at Jungmun Complex(50 min ride).

Where to stay nearby:

The Teddy Bear Museum is at the Jungmun Resort Area, across the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum. Jungmun (map of hotels in Jungmun Area) is the resort area and it’s worthwhile to see the backlot of some of these posh hotels. The Lotte Hotel and  Shilla Jeju are the most popular and best known by Koreans. I stayed at the Hyatt Regency. Sometimes, there are deals, depending on season.

About 30 minutes away is a more budget friendly area of  Seogwipo. (Map of Seogwipo City) falls second as one of the tourist destinations, but has less variety. Here’s a map of places to stay in Seogwipo City. Seogwipo is at the south-eastern base of Jeju and the last stop on the Jeju Airport Shuttle bus.

Read my Jeju Island Travel Survival Guide for more tips about traveling in Jeju Island.

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Do you visit museums when you travel? What’s the quirkiest, cutest or most odd museum you’ve been to? Spill it.

28 Comments

  1. jschn says:

    Christine, This is the most fun I’ve had all day! And your account is thorough and pretty with all the teddy bear pics. Thanks! ~Josie

  2. MsCathy says:

    This is absolutely hilarious and interesting at the same time. It’s funny you posted a blog about this because recently, my boyfriend thought it would be funny to make a “Cathy Bear”. Needless to say, I am showing him this funny post!!

    Cathy Trails

  3. Mich says:

    I missed the teddy museum at the namsan tower. I didn’t have much time then. 🙁 I know I will be back.

  4. Andrea says:

    What a wonderful museum! We don’t visit too many when we travel but I did really like the Medicine History museum in Berlin.

  5. Dave says:

    I want to say something about a teddy bears picnic here 🙂

    I visited something similar in France, as well as a dolls museum. The teddy bears were much cooler. The dolls can be creepy. I wonder if they know Winny the Pooh in Korea?

    • @Dave: Thought I’d leave the teddy bears picnic part out. Too much to write and not everyone grew up on Sesame Street? 😉 Winnie is Disney, so Koreans might know it but Paddington?…dunno. I’d love to see creepy french dolls, though. I wonder if that would feel like visiting an eccentric old aunt?

  6. Lauren says:

    We’ve got one in Yeongwol, too, over in Gangwon-do! It’s creepy in a fascinating way, like the setting of a horror movie. I never knew teddy bears could participate in so many panoramas. Definitely a few hours well spent.

    • @Lauren:Creepy, huh? I wonder if they have the same panoramas in Gangwon-do or maybe it was all the mechanical bears which made it feel like Chucky? 😉

  7. Waegook Tom says:

    The teddy bear museum looks adorable – I plan on going when I eventually make it to Jeju! Soooooo cute!

  8. jooliyah says:

    um, there’s a teddy bear museum in Honolulu. In Waikiki actually. Run by, you guessed it, Koreans. They’re going global! http://www.teddybearworldhawaii.com/

    • @jooliyah: Yeah, I know. Think it was just this or last year. A little scary (not to mention I hear word that Bae yeong joon? a famous K-drama star will be opening a cafe in Waikiki in the vicinity of it. Still haven’t made it there yet, but I put a link in this article to a KITV article on the museum. Apparently they have an Obama bear.

  9. Gray says:

    I have not been to a teddy bear museum, but I sure would go, if it were interesting enough. Much of what you describe here reminds me of the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory here in Vermont–they’re very creative about giving their teddy bears “character,” so you have biker bears, and Elvis bears, you name it. It’s pretty cute.

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