Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Seoul Knife Gallery

Not too long ago, we made a little trip to Seoul, to feed our inquisitive minds and find out what the Seoul Fringe Festival is all about. Turns out it's all about the arts, music and just general awesomeness. On the Sunday after the festival we did have a couple of hours to do some more sight seeing in Seoul. Even though we had been there before, we decided to go to Insandong. Anyone who lives in Korea has no excuse for not having seen this place. It is just an absolute hive of activity, one of the most animated areas I have ever been to. Anyone not living in Korea, who one day decides to visit, must make the mission to see the marvel that is Insadong.

Insadong contains many shops, antique stores, art stores, restaurants, and art galleries. It is very well known for the conglomeration of art galleries and exhibitions that are to be found there. Many of these exhibits are temporary exhibits, of artists showing off their (usually amazing) work, and then there are a few exhibitions that are permanent. One that we saw and decided to go visit is the Knife Gallery.

Turns out this place is far more than your run of the mill knife gallery, if there is such a thing as a 'run of the mill' knife gallery. We went into the gallery, expecting to see your standard fare of different varieties of Asian swords and Katanas,etc. but this place was a lot more far reaching than that.

Upon entering, you pay 1000Won 'donation', and then you are free to browse. One of the first things that smacked me in the face was a life sized replica of the Witch Kings mask/helmet. Really really cool!

Standing very near to the Witch King of Angmar's mask is a glass encased hand of Sauron, complete with the Ring. Again, very cool.

It's worth noting here that all of these items are made of actual steel/metal, and are not plastic replicas. And the detail that has been put into these things is ridiculous. The ring on the hand of Sauron actually has the writing along its edge, as it is seen in the movies.

Once you move a bit further into the exhibit, there are many 'more serious' items on display as well. One of the most interesting ones was an exhibit showing the step by step process that is required to make a traditional sword. I must make an apology here, as I am not too certain if this is a Japanese sword, or a Korean sword. Either way, it is incredibly interesting to see the process involved in making just one of these swords!

There are also several displays of Japanese Samurai armour and swords:

Once one has moved past the interesting and informative items, one seems to get hit by a complete barrage of more 'just cool' items. There were so many items on display that I recognised from movies from when I was younger. On display are replicas of John Rambo's knives from all of the different movies. The knife that Arnold Schwarzenegger used in the Predator movies. There are replicas of Braveheart's sword, and also replicas of Ivanhoe, and even Excalibur. I must say I was a little disappointed by Excalibur. This has got to be possibly the most famous and well known sword in history. It might even be the only sword that many average people know by name. And it's really small and puny and absolutely not what one wants to see when standing in front of the most revered sword ever.

Braveheart's Sword


I am by no means a movie geek. One of 'those' people' that get caught up in the fictional realities of fantasy stories such as Lord Of The Rings, or Braveheart. Nor am I a Sci-Fi geek that gets caught up in the made up, but oh so intricately detailed 'reality' of the Star Wars movies, but standing there in front of all of these marvellous movie icons, I couldn't help but feel a little happy on the inside. And none of these items made me smile as broadly as one of the last few items in the farthest corner of the gallery.

What might these incredibly awesome items be? I'll tell you. Lightsabers. Yes, Lightsabers. Ask ANY guy who has seen a Star Wars movie and ask them what the coolest part about the movie is, and some might say 'Princess Leia', and others will say 'Darth Vader', but almost undisputedly, 99% of guys will tell you that the Lightsaber was the coolest Star Wars gadget. I will go as far as saying that the Lightsaber was the coolest movie invention ever. Well, Lightsabers and Wolverine's claws (of which, by the way, the gallery has a set)!

'Am I reading correctly?' I hear you ask? Yes you are. And yes, that is a perfect replica of Yoda's Lightsaber. Possibly the coolest character/weapon combo ever in the history of anything, ever. It really is that cool. The one thing about Lightsabers that makes them the coolest and most disappointing movie invention ever, is the fact that they don't work. Bummer! Any one of these movie swords can be picked up and swung around and be used to chop stuff up. Lightsabers, unfortunately, no.

So, aside from all the informative stuff, and intensely awesome movie paraphernalia, there is a smorgasbord of different, random knives, weapons and just cool stuff made by all sorts of manufacturers and knife makers.

So if you are in South Korea and happen to be in Seoul, and you just so stumble into Insadong, and you have about an hour or so to spare, give a thought to all those movie fanatics out there, and the people that dream up their awesome movie ideas, and go visit the Insadong Knife Gallery, and go donate your 1000Won!

Post by Oliver


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