The Mungyeong Coal Museum (Hanja: 聞慶石炭博物館) in 112 Wangneung Drive/Wangneung-gil, Wangneung-ri 382-4 beonji, GaEun-eup, Mungyeong City, Northern Gyeongsang Province exhibits the history of coal and explains its important contribution to Korea's rapid industrialization. Systematic exhibition of coal and related information helps visitors understand the vital role that coal has played in shaping modern life. The museum displays coal-related relics in addition to scholarly materials.
The museum offers various exhibition halls: the Central Exhibition Hall (1F-2F), Outdoor Exhibition Hall, Mine Exhibition Hall, and Miner’s Private House Exhibition Hall. Though coal, one of Korea’s few natural resources, used to be the driving force of the Korean industry and economy, it has become less visible due to the emergence of oil and natural gas. The museum helps visitors appreciate this forgotten resource as well as the lives of miners in Mungyeong, once one of the most productive coalfields in Korea.
Inside the museum there were reproductions of company offices. On the wall is a portrait of President Park Chung-hee. Depending on who you ask, he’s either the brutal military dictator who persecuted and executed hundreds of South Korean democracy activists. To others, he’s a hero who brought a booming economy and self-sufficiency to a country reeling from the body blows of the Japanese Occupation (1910-1945) and the Korean War (1950-1953). His daughter, Park Geun-hye, is the current president of South Korea (President Park’s parents were both assassinated).
If you ever find yourself in Mungyeong it’s worth checking out. It really brings home the huge sacrifices, and some of the small joys, that constituted the life of the South Korean working class before the major economic successes of the 1970′s and 1980′s.