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Travel Report: Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine, Daegu.

Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine South Korea.

Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine.

April 2019. Although firmly under the radar with international tourists, the city of Daegu is famed within South Korea for its European churches, traditional hanok village and gorgeous lake. Moreover, it has a reputation as the nation’s so-called coffee capital. However, its biggest draw is Yangnyeongsi, South Korea’s oldest traditional medicine market.

With a long and respected history dating back to 1658, people still flock here from all over the country in search of age-old remedies. The market sits snugly in Daegu’s historical district and has become so popular it even has its own museum!

Visit Daegu Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine

Getting medicinal in Daegu.

Yangnyeongsi Oriental Medicine Museum gives visitors a lighthearted overview of the market’s history through a series of dioramas, cartoon videos and interactive touch screen slides. Moreover, if you’ve always dreamed of dressing up like a 17th century pharmacist, DON’T WORRY, the museum has your back!

Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine.

Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine.

“Mm, you appear to have no pulse”.

The museum’s exhibits lie spread out over two floors and, I’m guessing, haven’t changed all that much since the place opened in 1985. The ground floor presents the market’s early beginnings, including an amusing animated story about how a 100 year old red Ginseng root saved the life of King Sukjon of Joseon. The king had been stricken by a mystery illness and the cure in question came from…. yup… Yangnyeongsi Medicine Market.

Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine in Daegu.

The museum mascot.

We also also got to meet the museum’s silly mascot. We never did find out his name, but he appears to be a walking teapot with a herb sticking out of his head. Nice work if you can get it. We called him Leafy, which was actually the name of one of my students back in Ruian, China.

The museum’s animated videos are hilarious! The above short tells the tale of Daegu under Japanese occupation during the 1920s. In the story, the medicine market’s very existence is threatened by the evil Japanese Army, who want to demolish it in order to build a highway.

With a plodding pace, clunky animation and a snarling, mustache-stroking bad guy, I actually felt a bit sorry for whoever made this. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!” cackles the villain, for what feels like several weeks.

What To See & Do, Daegu.

Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine Daegu

Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine.

A large chunk of the museum gives itself up to a more general “This is how herbal medicine works” vibe. As such, there’s a full rundown of all the major herbs and their different values, along with a detailed look at some fundamental differences between eastern and western medicine.

In South Korea there are four so-called body types, depending on one’s physical condition and eating habits. I’m a “Taeyang” type, which apparently means I’m “sociable and ambitious”. 

According to the cute cartoon panda, this means I should pile up on rice and buckwheat. What’s more, I’d be wise to steer clear of peanuts, white flour and sesame oil. There goes my favourite combo of movie snacks.

Blood pressure monitor Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine

Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine.

Elsewhere, I got the chance to take my blood pressure for the first time in years. I admit to feeling more than a touch nervy before the machine confirmed that it’s unlikely I’ll drop dead anytime soon.

Quite suddenly, our peaceful museum wanderings came to an abrupt end when we found ourselves swarmed by an excitable school group. Amid a hailstorm of chatter and flicked V signs, one boy kept repeating “Hometown Daegu, hometown Daegu” over and over.

Another boy confidently told Wonderboy that he looked like Jack Black, while their frazzled teacher tried to move everyone on and keep them focused on their museum tasks. As they departed, a girl popped her head around the corner, cooing, “You’re so handsome!!!!” before promptly disappearing again.

Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine.

Chocolate Red Jinseng Daegu South Korea.

The Museum shop.

Our self-guided tour of Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine concluded with a walk through the small shop. It seemed to be quite the red ginseng festival. In fact, there was red ginseng tea, red ginseng cookies and red ginseng chocolate bars.

Next to the shop, there’s a herbal foot spa where you can soak your feet in… yes, you guessed it… more red ginseng. Good enough for the king, good enough for me.

Having been on our feet the whole day, a foot bath seemed like an excellent idea. So we paid the required 5000KRW (£3.30/€3.80/$4.20) for a 20minute soak. The perfect way to cap off a unique day of sightseeing.

Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine is free to enter and open daily (except Mondays) from 09:00-18:00.

Leighton Travels travel reports short stories.

For more on what to see and do in this hugely underrated city, check out my travel reports from Daegu.

Like this? Take a look at more of my pieces from around South Korea.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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8 Comments

  • travelling_han

    Looks so interesting. I went in 2011 for the Athletics World Champs but didn’t get to see too much of the city.

    October 20, 2020 - 11:30 am Reply
    • Leighton

      That must have been a cool experience. We’re you competing or covering the event in some way?

      October 20, 2020 - 11:31 am Reply
      • travelling_han

        Yeah such a cool experience. Alas, not competing – I was there purely as a fan, having raced to a decent (but no way international) standard when I was young – I’ve tried to go to most World Champs/Olympics etc whenever I can get tickets 🙂

        October 20, 2020 - 11:36 am
  • tinywanderer

    I never knew such fun things existed in Daegu! Looking forward to checking it out myself!

    October 20, 2020 - 3:39 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Tiny Wanderer! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Many more articles from Daegu coming out over the next days.

      October 20, 2020 - 3:42 pm Reply
  • I’ve Bean Travelling

    Haha, those school kids are hilarious! Interesting museum, I think I would enjoy checking this out. Thanks for sharing.

    October 20, 2020 - 4:27 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading!

      October 20, 2020 - 4:28 pm Reply
  • Me

    I always enjoy traditional/folk medicine museums and visit them whenever I come across one. I think the folk knowledge of illnesses and natural healing compounds are fascinating. Thanks for another visit to one.

    October 20, 2020 - 6:21 pm Reply

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