Millions of people, both children and adults, love teddy bears. Doubtless there are millions of teddy bear fans and collectors. Some are so hooked into this ultra popular toy that they wouldn’t mind taking a trip to South Korea’s Jeju Island just to see the Jeju Teddy Bear Museum.
It may come as a delightful surprise to many that such a cutesy museum exists in a volcanic island off the southern coast of the Korean Peninsula. Jeju-do is better known as Korea’s premier honeymoon destination and a place of exotic volcanic rock formations. It is known by research scientists and spelunkers the world over for its volcanic peaks, extinct craters, and long winding lava tubes.
The Jeju Teddy Bear Museum is found within the island’s Jungmun Tourist Complex. It opened on April 24, 2001 and was originally intended to entertain European collectors. It boasts of possessing a wide a variety of the well-known bear and all the necessary information about teddy bears. There are two galleries, a gift shop, museum café, a luxurious bar/restaurant, magical pond and garden that make it a perfect place for friends, family and lovers. The outside garden offers a panoramic view of Jungmun Beach. The museum also offers a fun “Teddy Bear” entertainment.
The two galleries showcase different types of teddy bears from different countries. Inside the galleries are the Art Hall, Projection Exhibition Hall and History Hall that showcases the more than 100-year history of the bear. A few of the popular teddy bears on display are the Mona Lisa teddy bear, “The Last Supper” teddy bears, Korean Black Bear family, the smallest teddy bear in the world (only 4.5 mm in size) and a number of antique teddy bears.
The teddy bear is now more than 100 years old. Common beliefs trace the first teddy bear to Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States of America. Stories tell that in one of the American president’s hunting trips he was so disappointed that he was not able to shoot a single bear. One of his staff members apparently caught a cute bear cub and tied it to a tree for the president to shoot. President Roosevelt did not find it right and sportsmanlike to shoot a lashed baby bear. He refused to shoot it and since then the cute cub was referred to as Teddy’s bear. The story caught on like wildfire and soon people were making their own teddy bears. The first teddy bear manufacturers were American Morris Michtom, and Margarete Steiff, a German. The Steiff Company became very successful and some of its original vintage bears are displayed in the Teddy Bear Museum.
Museum admission fee ranges from 6,000 won to 7,000 won for adults and 4,000 won to 5,000 won for children and soldiers. It is open all year round from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Jeju-do’s Teddy Bear Museum is not difficult to find since it is within the Jungmun Resort Complex and for the fact that everybody in the resort complex knows where the museum is.