The National Museum of Korean Contemporary History Renews Its Permanent Exhibition from “Independence and Division” to “Independence and the Establishment of the ROK Government”

Date Jan 03, 2023

With the second change of the exhibition following last July’s first shift under the theme “The Korean War and Its Implications,” the museum will set up an advisory group for exhibition changes to present new themes on Korean history.


The National Museum of Korean Contemporary History (Director NAM Hee Suk, MUCH) announced that the History Gallery on its fifth floor has renewed its permanent exhibition under the new theme of “Independence and the Establishment of the ROK Government” and unveiled the new exhibition on December 13, 2022. This second new exhibition marks a comprehensive renewal following last July’s first partial exhibition change in the “The Korean War” section.   


The new exhibition focuses on presenting a brief but clear overview of how the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) was founded after Independence with more engaging resources and content to help visitors better understand the exhibition. With the comprehensive change of its main theme from “Independence and Division” to “Independence and the Establishment of the ROK Government,” the museum is emphasizing the vigorous strides that the ROK Government made after the agony of national division. 


The new exhibition consists of three main parts: Part I. Independence and U.S. Army Military Government in Korea, Part II. Trusteeship Controversy and Left-Right Coalition Movement, and Part III. Establishment of the Government of the Republic of Korea. Along with the change of theme, the History Gallery has added exhibition space as well as more materials and resources that highlight the founding process of the ROK Government and its accomplishments during the period from 1945 to 1948. In addition, a large map of the major political incidents that occurred around the Korean Peninsula and accompanying photographs are displayed on the wall of the gallery, offering an insightful glance at the political situation of that time. The major incidents have also been woven into the timeline of world history so that visitors can grasp how the independence efforts from 1940 came to fruition with the establishment of the ROK Government amid the evolving global political situation.    


The exhibition ends by showcasing the founding day of the ROK Government. As the U.S. Army Military Government in Korea came to an end at midnight on August 15, 1948, key Korean political figures paraded to the opening ceremony of the establishment of the ROK Government around 11 a.m. that morning. The opening ceremony was announced at 11:22 a.m., followed by the Korean Army’s street parade that began at 2:30 p.m. that afternoon. These moments are presented in the same time sequence along with the actual video clips filmed on that day, sharing these galvanizing moments with visitors.    


MUCH Director NAM Hee Suk said, “There had been calls from people of all walks of life that the permanent exhibition needed to be supplemented and improved. Based on the resources we have gathered and studied over the past 10 years since the opening of MUCH as well as long consultations with experts from different fields, we came to the decision to overhaul the exhibition. We, at MUCH, will continue to renew the exhibitions going forward to help our visitors gain an objective, fact-based understanding of the history of Korea’s development through its miraculous economic growth and democratization movements.”