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Children’s Museum of Houston sweeps up wave of modern-day Korean culture

Exhibit premieres in Houston followed by eight-city national tour!

Debuts November 15

Funded by The Freeman Foundation

In partnership with the National Folk Museum of Korea with support of

the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Houston

Technology provided by Samsung


HOUSTON (Oct. 6, 2014) – The growing popularity of all things Korean, from fashion and film to music and cuisine, has swept up the Children’s Museum of Houston.  From Nov. 15, 2014 to May 10, 2015, the Children’s Museum of Houston will ride “Hallyu” (the Korean Wave) with the debut of a brand new exhibit that digs right into the heart and soul of the culture.  Heart and Seoul:  Growing Up in Korea aims to bring modern-day South Korea to Houston.  Part of the Freeman Foundation Asian Culture Exhibit Series, funded by The Freeman Foundation and administered by the Association of Children’s Museums, Heart and Seoul:  Growing Up in Korea premieres nationally at the Children’s Museum of Houston and will then travel to eight cities within the next four years.


“America’s No. 1 children’s museum was selected by The Freeman Foundation to develop a never-done-before children’s Korean exhibit that will tour nationally,” said Children’s Museum of Houston Executive Director Tammie Kahn.  “We are honored to have the support of Korean advisors both locally and in Korea to make this project a reality.  We traveled to Seoul and even met with five-children there who continue to serve as our Kid’s Committee and ‘guide’ you within the exhibit,” said Kahn.


K-Pop’s (Korean Pop) mainstream growing popularity, as well as Korean soap operas across Japan, Southeast Asia and the globe, represent only a minute reflection of the bustling, fast-paced, overwhelming, hip and trendy, mindboggling, multisensory experience that is like living and growing up in South Korea.  In Heart and Seoul:  Growing Up in Korea, five modern-day Korean kids will open their hearts and invite you to take an intimate look into their lives through their diverse interests, customs and ambitions, including their love of K-Pop and Korean cuisine, their habit of texting to communicate, and even their dreams of being accepted into a good college; their drive is what keeps them studying after school at “hagwon” (or cram school) until midnight!  You’re invited to connect to the world’s “most wired country,” where there’s plenty of Wi-Fi and almost everyone owns a Samsung cell phone!



Local Korean businesses and communities sprawl through Long Point Road, between Bingle and Gessner, and it still continues to grow.  Between 2000 and 2010, the Korean community ranked as the third fastest growing non-Indian Asian community in Houston.  According to the 2010 census, Koreans make up 0.3-percent of the overall population with people of Asian heritage making up nearly 7-percent of the entire population of Harris County.  And between 2000 and 2010, the county’s Asian population increased by 45-percent!


Korea is also Texas’ fifth largest export destination.   More than 40-Korean companies are represented in the state.  In 2010, trade between Korea and Texas amounted to $11.8 billion.  A reflection of the growing business and interest in South Korea was the opening of daily, direct flights from Houston to Seoul last May.



“Korean-Americans in Houston are excited by the launch of the Heart and Seoul: Growing Up in Korea exhibit,” said Susan Jhin, Museum advisory board member and special advisor to the exhibit.  “We hope after seeing how Korean children live, play and study, children in the U.S. will be inspired to discover more about Korea.  I commend the Children’s Museum of Houston for their foresight in helping our kids bridge the gap to other cultures in preparation for their life in the global community,” said Jhin.


South Korea is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and an important trade and political partner for the United States and other nations.  It is enjoying broader influence, and receiving greater recognition for its contributions in the realms of arts, culture, and technology.  Heart and Seoul:  Growing Up in Korea will immerse you in learning experiences which build your understanding of Korean culture to see the differences and similarities between your life and the lives of Korean people.  The exhibit is broken down into the following areas:


  • KOREA PLAZA:  “Hang out” with Korean kids and “text” them questions about what life is like in Seoul. Visit historical and famous sites on an interactive multi-user touch table.  Then, launch a kite to “fly away the bad luck.”
  • KOREA K-POP STARS STUDIO:  K-Pop has a huge influence on pop culture in Korea and around the world.  Take the stage of the K-Pop TV studio and watch yourself “perform” with K-Pop stars in front of a 75” TV screen.
  • ANIMATION STUDIO:  Did you know “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” and “Avatar” were created in Korean animation studios?  Check out a stop-motion animation station and draw an animated story.
  • TAEKWONDO STUDIO:  Kick, punch and block as you match your moves to Korean children who are experts in this martial art based on 2000-year-old ancient techniques.
  • RESTAURANT:  From Kimchi to Korean BBQ, dine in at this authentic Korean restaurant or take on the role of restaurant owner and watch your business boom.
  • APARTMENT:  Experience preparations, games and customs for Seollal (Lunar New Year). Try on a hanbok and learn to do the traditional bow, put on a traditional dress, “taste” New Years’ foods such as tteokguk (rice cake soup), or play yut nori by throwing sticks and moving tokens around a game board.
  • CLASSROOM:  Stories, music and calligraphy…it all happens in school.  Learn how to speak and write Hangul.  Listen to folktales and play the janggu and buk, traditional drums.
  • HANOK GUEST HOUSE:  The Jesa Table is a place where Koreans bow in respect to honor their ancestors.  Draw an ancestor you would like to honor and bow to experience this tradition.  Also, check out the rollup floor mat and view a folk tale!



“America’s No. 1 Children’s Museum” by Parents Magazine, listed among Forbes and USAToday’s “Best Children’s Museums in the U.S.,” winner of Houston A-List “Best Museum 2010, 2012, 2013 & 2014,” and Nickelodeon Parents’ Picks “Best Museum in Houston 2009 & 2010,” the Children’s Museum of Houston is a’s nationwide 5-star children’s museum. It is dedicated to transforming communities through innovative, child-centered learning with a vision to spark a passion for lifelong learning in all children.  Founded in 1980 and housed in a whimsical building designed by internationally acclaimed architect Robert Venturi, the Children’s Museum of Houston offers a multitude of innovative exhibits and bilingual learning programs for kids ages birth to 12 years. The Museum serves more than 1,100,000 people annually and operates as a 501(c)(3) under the direction of a Board of Directors.  For more information, please visit or call (713) 522-1138.  The Children’s Museum of Houston is A Playground for Your Mind™ Can your mind come out to play?™



The Freeman Foundation was established in 1993 by Mansfield Freeman. This private foundation is committed to increasing and strengthening the understanding of nations in East Asia.  The Freeman Foundation Asian Culture Exhibit Series is funded by The Freeman Foundation and administered by Association of Children’s Museums to bring outstanding interactive exhibits about Asian cultures to children, their families and school groups at children’s museums across the United States.



In an increasingly complex world, children’s museums provide a place where all kids can learn through play and exploration with the caring adults in their lives. There are approximately 400-children’s museums around the world, which annually reach more than 31-million visitors. ACM provides leadership, professional development, advocacy, and resources for its member organizations and individuals.  To learn more about ACM and to find an ACM-member children’s museum near you, visit