Sinyoung Cinema Museum was awarded the 9th Asia Architecture award for its unusual structure. Photo by Yasmin Aboelsaud
“Dreams come true” promises Jeju’s only cinema museum. With a varied combination of art, history, film and nature, the Sinyoung Cinema Museum provides indoor and outdoor entertainment as one of Jeju’s hidden waterfront gems.
The museum, which opened in June 1999, is the first museum of its kind in Korea. Named after Sin Young-kyoon, a famous Korean actor, its remarkable space explores the history of film along with Korea’s own rise in cinematic culture over the past hundred years.
Built to resemble a white spinal seashell, the museum’s exterior is an eye-catcher and the smell of fresh air and salt water is a nose-grabber. The artistic construction earned the Sinyoung Cinema Museum the 9th Asia Architecture Award for its harmony between nature and art.
The "Walk of Fame" features photographs of many of Korea's best-loved performers; among them Ahn Seong-gi, Jang Mi-hee and Sin Seong-il. Photo courtesy Sinyoung Cinema
Inside, there are three floors to explore and several media forms to experience. Upon entrance, the museum features a hall of fame exhibit that displays a range of photographs of Korean movie stars and their hand prints in mould- resembling Hollywood’s “Walk of Fame”. The main level also displays the history of film and cameras, with plenty of props to enhance the historical explanations.
The basement level offers a glimpse of traditional costumes and tools used by actors in popular Korean films. A three-dimensional theatre is also located in the basement, showing films every half an hour.
Several examples of early film-making equipment and props are presented; along with a detailed history of Korean film and Korea's famous movie stars. Photo by Yasmin Aboelsaud
Technology is the theme in the second floor’s “Experience Hall”, where visitors are encouraged to investigate different special-effects stations. This hall allows visitors to see, feel and hear how composite images are made, as well as the creation of animation, and the production process of sound effects. A gift shop is conveniently located on this level, offering a variety of museum memorabilia for purchase. A door labeled “Way Out” in the gift shop leads to a scenic outdoor experience that is tucked behind the museum’s main building.
Before descending down the steps, you immediately notice the view of the ocean through the palm trees. The familiar smell of salt water returns to fill your nostrils. Statues of Korean actors greet you on the steps, along with an unexpected tribute to the beloved Forrest Gump, who sits on a bench awaiting a photograph with you.
The steps lead to an enchanted garden with a small man-made waterfall that flows into a small fish-filled ravine. Popular movie blockbuster statues, such as dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, the shark from Jaws, and even Jim Carrey’s The Mask, are situated around the garden.
Further down, an oceanfront cafe serves refreshments and snacks to museum goers. Some wooden steps next to the cafe may appear to lead nowhere but actually seem to be a gateway to the edge of the earth. Surrounded by trees, a wooden bridge leads to several breathtaking look out points- where the ocean is clear blue with hints of tropical green, and breaks against the rocks gracefully, soothing your ears with the sounds of nature. Forming part of a Jeju Olle trail, this subtropical forest is a sensational, must-see site in Jeju. Take a walk along this trail, after an afternoon at the Sinyoung Cinema Museum, and you will realize that dreams really do come true, right here in Jeju.
Sinyoung Cinema Museum is located at 2381, Nam Won-lee, Namwon. Entry costs 6,000Won. The museum can be reached by bus from Jeju’s main bus terminals. The journey takes around 45 minutes from Jeju City and the bus stops just past the museum.
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