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It was about 700,000 years ago in the Paleolithic Age that humans started to inhabit in the Korean Peninsula. They settled in and started farming during the Neolithic Age (600~1,000 BC). They invented various ground stone tools and came to learn how to make potteries. During the Bronze Age, they developed skills to manufacture bronze wares, and started agriculture in a real sense. After going through the early Iron Age which started around 4 BC, the Korean Peninsula experienced many developments around 3 BC when ancient Kingdoms started to come into formation. During the three Kingdom period, they had keen interest in astronomy as well as agriculture, which is well proven by Cheomseongdae (astronomical observatory), constellations in mural paintings and records of solar eclipses which once again demonstrate that Korean people had great interest and knowledge in astronomy. By then weapons, paper (Korean traditional paper) making and construction technology as well as xylography and navigation had reached an advanced level, which made a great impact on Japan.
History of Science and Technology in Korea
1. Hwaseong in Suwon and Kojunggi
Hwaseong in Suwon and Kojunggi
Chong Yak-yong devised an instrument incorporating a pulley and crane with its capacity of 25,000 Kun or the equivalent of 15,000㎏, to construct a rampart, Hwaseong, in Suwon.
2. The Divine Bell of Seongdeok
The Divine Bell of Seongdeok
The Divine Bell of Seongdeok began to be manufactured by King Kyongdeok (A.D. 765) to commemorate his deceased Great King Seongdeok and it was finally completed under King Hyegong (A.D. 771).
3. Kye Young Bae or Greedy Cup
Kye Young Bae or Greedy Cup
Kye Young Bae literally means a cup, which warns against greed or excessiveness, is also known as Jeol Ju Bae because it warns drinkers not to overdrink. Only if a user fills the cup above 70% level, the cup automatically spills its contents out of the bottom, which has a symbolic meaning of warning against human greed.
4. Honcheonsigye or Astronomical Instrument and Clock
Honcheonsigye or Astronomical Instrument and Clock
Honcheonsigye, an astronomical clock, was invented by astronomer Song I-yeong in 1669 during the King Hyunjong period of the Choseon Dynasty. What is on display is a replica of Honcheonsigye, national treasure no. 230, which is comprised of a clock mechanism and celestial globe.
5. Seokgacheonmundo or Stone-Engraved Map of the Heaven
Seokgacheonmundo or Stone-Engraved Map of the Heaven
Western constellations were engraved onto a stone plate in a traditional way. The map has two circles and between them there are 12 radiation-shaped curvy lines extending form the north pole mark, which stretch to the point where the12 o’clock mark is engraved.
6. Cheugugi or Rainfall Gauge
Cheugugi or Rainfall Gauge
Chugugi is world’s oldest scientific rainfall gauge, which was invented in 1441 or the 23rd year of King Sejong period. It comprises three parts: a cylindrical iron- or bronze-cast main body, a stone mount (Cheugudae) on which the main body is placed, and a ruler to measure the depth of rainwater collected in the main body.
7. Hwacha or Armed Cart
Hwacha or Armed Cart
Hwacha was first built in the 9th year of King Taejong of the Choson Dynasty. During the rule of King Munjong, a portable multiple rocket launcher (Singijeon) was installed on the cart to shoot 50 or 200 thin arrows (Sajeonchongtong) at a time.
8. Geobukseon or The Turtle Ship
Birds
Geobukseon, world’s first iron-clad warship, was built under the leadership of Admiral Yi Sun-sin. The galley of the Turtle Ship was armored with iron plates to protect its rowers and armed with a turtle head-shaped iron ram.