I’m a Ninja! Trick Art in Seoul
Wanna be a wall-climbing ninja, shoot yourself out of a cannon, or spar with a kangaroo? Well, it’s all possible at one of Korea’s trick art museums.
These optical illusion museums are not new here. In fact, I’ve seen many an eye-bending photo floating around the internet for quite a few years now. Using the centuries old trompe l’oeil art technique, these museums “deceive the eye,” and allow you to become part of a 2 dimensional painting, that appears 3D.
I admit that I was a wee bit curious about inserting myself into one of these clever mirages, but had discounted the museum as being over-touristy, gimmicky and more than a little silly. It wasn’t until, Shirley, a friend from Hong Kong, stopped into Seoul for a few days and insisted we visit, that I made it into one.
It turns out that trick eye museums aren’t just a Korean thing anymore. They’ve now expanded into Singapore, China, Vietnam and Thailand, with the first European location planned for Istanbul, Turkey. Shirley informed me that Hong Kong’s trick art museum was so popular, that it was impossible to get a clear shot without someone else’s body parts in the photo. Kinda defeats the whole purpose of an optical illusion if you ask me…
So what did I think? Well, the museum is silly and gimmicky, but it also happens to be ridiculously fun, strangely exhausting and kind of complicated. How so? Trick art plays not just with paint, but also with perspectives, and there were a few illusions that we just couldn’t get right. Even though there were example photos and specified zones for getting the best shot, we ended up rolling around on the floor for about 20 minutes trying different angles to no avail.
See? Fun, exhausting and kinda complicated. 😉
Tips for Visiting a Trick Art Museum
The ideal number of people to visit with is 3 or more
I say 3, because there are a few exhibits designed for a pair of people, and you need a third to take the photo. There are staff around to take pictures for you if required, but it’s much more fun with people you already know.
Incidently, if you’re traveling alone and desperate for some optical illusion pics of your own, it’s still possible to visit. While we were there, a staff member was escorting a single visitor around the entire museum and taking photos for her.
Wear comfortable clothing
Some of the most interesting illusions require you to position yourself on the floor. Wanna look like a wall climbing samurai? Not gonna happen in a skintight mini dress and stilettos.
Visit before 5PM
We visited the Ssamzigil branch of the Alive Museum in touristy Insadong on a Friday, around 4:00 and aside from 3 or 4 other groups, we pretty much had the whole museum to ourselves. By 5:00 though, the museum started to fill up and it became a lot harder to take effective photos.
If there are 2 of you, you’ll need about 2 hours to get through the entire museum properly.
Where to Visit a Trick Art Museum
The Alive Museum has locations in Seoul, Paju, Yeosu, Daecheon and Jeju, as well as multiple international locations. The Main branch is in Insadong. More information can be found HERE.
The Trickeye Museum has locations in Seoul, Busan, Jeju, Singapore and China. It’s main branch is in Hongdae. More information can be found HERE.
Have you visited a trick art museum in your country? Do you have pics? Share your links in the comments below. We’d love to see them!