Category Archives: 2_Phone Museum

Phone Museum located in Korea is only & the first mobile museum in the world.

Introduction of Phone Museum

Introduction of Phone Museum

This story is of my family .

Director of Phone museum (my father)have collected mobile phones for 15 years now. It all started unexpectedly when he lost an old mobile phone that he had kept as a memento. He tried looking for the same kind at flea markets, but it was nowhere to be found. Later he found out that old mobile phones were disassembled and thrown away. Only the necessary, reusable parts were kept. As a child, he had visited many museums and read many archaeology books. To him, throwing away old, vintage phones was like losing part of the world’s history. He asked the merchants at the flea market, and they said they had never seen anybody collect mobile phones. He came home that day and talked with his family. It would be challenging and it would require much money, but his family and he decided to collect mobile phones. They believed that mobile phones represented the culture of the 20th century. In January of 2008, they opened the Phone Museum, and luckily it was recorded the world’s first Mobile Phone Museum.

             The first collection at the Phone Museum was the Korean mobile phones for the people in Korea. This time, it was not for a hobby that he was collecting mobile phones; He did it to protect world’s heritage, so He was more systematic and calculative. He also had various thematic exhibitions in mind as he collected Korean mobile phones. Korea is the country of the most various cell phones production, so it was difficult to collect everything; however, he had collected 99.5% of all mobile phones that had existed in Korea. For important mobile phones, over 10 of the same category were collected and displayed in different themes. For example, 8 of the world’s first 10 million pixel camera phones made by Samsung Electronics were collected and displayed at four different themes. The four themes were First of the World, Phones Recorded in the Guinness World Records, History of Camera Phones, and Chronology. Two of the eight phones were placed in each theme. This was so that the visitors can view both the front and the back of the phone, since they are untouchable due to the display cases that surround them. For the same phone, if the colors were different, then those were collected as well.

             The second collection at the Phone Museum was the Korean mobile phones for export. These mobile phones used different communication methods, so they were not the same as the cell phones made for the people in Korea. Because there exists only one Museum for mobile phones, this Mobile Phone Museum is important for foreigners as well. Collecting Korean mobile phones for export was even more difficult than collecting those made for people in Korea. Nonetheless, enough was collected to write the history of Korean phone exportation. They became so important in Korean history that the Cultural Administration suggested registering these cell phones as cultural assets.

             The third collection at the Mobile Phone Museum was the foreign products. The book about the history of mobile phones in the world is yet to be written. No one has yet to study the history of mobile phones in a systematic way. And so I had to search on the Internet for a long time, reading and collecting writings and essay papers on mobile phones. From the pieces of information I had collected, I sorted out hundreds of mobile phones that had made an impact in the world. Western countries have different viewpoints on the history of mobile phones. Regarding the world’s first mobile phone and the world’s first smart phone, they think differently from Koreans. Keeping such differences in mind, I designed this collection so that everyone can positively view it whether he is American or European. With SCR-536 handie-Talkie-the world’s first radio telephone-as the starter, I collected 80 different ‘world’s first cell phones.’ They were divided into 4 different themes: Telecommunication System, Function, Form Factor, and Smart Phone.

At the phone museum, the visitors especially gets surprised by the phone called 0-generation, its uses MTS and IMTS systems of car phones, and it’s a variety and marvelous of 1st generation initial portable phone. These collections are the part where even Samsung engineers gets amazed by. Not only phones are at the phone museum. Starting with Alexander Graham bell’s liquid phone L.M. Ericsson’s desktop phone, wall-mounted phone, France mother-in-law phone, very first Strowger dial phone etc. wire phones are historically decorated systematically. Also there are different kinds of pictures, books, pamphlets about Mores, Operator Switchboard, payphone, character phone, military phone, phone booth. All of these relics are total of 6043points. Devices are total of 4629 points (Morse 32, Switchboard 26, wire phone 171, cell phone 4400), relics associated with these such as (materials, pictures, accessories etc.) are total of 1414 points (Mores 7, Switchboard 7, wire phone393, cell phone 1007).

             As <US Today> survey, mobile phones and the internet is the biggest part of the change in the humankind lives since the industrial revolution. Motorola is a number 1 mobile phone company for 14 years since 1983. Then Nokia became number 1 for 14 years since 1997. Now Samsung is in number 1 since 2012. Korea is a number 1 in mobile technology and sale. The world’s only phone Museum has 20~21st century cultural heritage are organized in chronological order and 40 different themes.

Phone museum, director Byungchul Lee profile

*1950 Jan 20th born in Seoul

*1969 Graduated Seoul Whimmon High school

*1973 Graduated department of Korean Literature in Dongguk University

*1973~1975 ROTC members of 11th, Front line platoon commander and noncommissioned officer academy instructor

*1975 First lieutenant discharged from army

*1975~2005 Journalist as well as reporter (The Chosun Ilbo, The Kukmin Ilbo, The Sisa Journal)

*2008 Jan Foundation of the phone Museum in Gyeonggi-do Yeoju-gun Jeomdong-myeon dangjin-ri

*books; (1985) <Seokjoo myung Critical Biography>, (1988) <The Great Discovery>, (1996) <A History Expedition in the World 100>, (2002) <The Beautiful Challenge>, (2005) <The Correct Korean>, 10 books etc.

Phone Museum – Present Achievements in Past Context


 Phone Museum

This story  is of  my father,Director of Phone Museum.

One day long time ago, when I was young, I went to Mia-Ri to see my friend, Yongtae. Getting down from the bus on the ridge, I walked up through a steep mountain path, panting for breath. Upon reaching his house, I shouted out, “Yongtae!”, expecting to hear from him, “Just a moment, I’ll come out.” But, contrary to the expectation, what I had to hear was, “Yongtae is not here, he already went out this morning.” Disappointed and exhausted, I trudged back downhill and got on the bus. It took me three a half hours to go to his house in vain and come back to my house located at Pil-Dong in the foothill of Nam-San, some 12 miles from Mia-Ri. This is not an old tale from the Yi-Dynasty. It is an anecdote that I experienced in Seoul at 1960s when I was a student. Whenever I bring up this story, both I and my daughters are laughing because they’re so used to the cellular phone.  Due to the cellular phones, things have changed drastically.

Living in this world where I would not have hear, “Yongtae is not here!”, with just one call, I opened the Phone Museum, yearning for good old days. This museum is little bit different from an ordinary museum in that, while it has wire telephones dated back to 19th century, it’s going to concentrate on recent technological development.

The majority of people, upon hearing that I opened the Phone Museum which is concentrating on the mobile phone, respond like this, “The mobile phone has existed only 20 years. Now we have a museum for it?” It is a natural response since a museum normally exhibits antiques at least 50 year old. However, I think that the mobile phone is an exception. A mobile phone is now the product most intimately related to our daily lives. Korean companies occupy more than 30 percent of the mobile phone market worldwide. They have five kinds of million seller cellular phones, each of which has been sold more than ten million. Among the export items of Korea, it is placed between No. 1 and No. 3 in terms of money. Furthermore, Korean companies have been leading in mobile phone technology. There are scores of models which claim to have new functions for the first time in history.

But this story is being lost. Not only wire telephones of twenty years ago but even mobile phones of just four to five years ago are hardly being preserved, and some mobile phones with innovative technology used for the first time are being lost. They are disassembled for the purpose of extracting infinitesimal jewels in them, or rashly exporting them to underdeveloped nations. With the incentive of profit, individuals quickly sold them to retail stores, without ever considering preserving their historical value. While many domestic antiques of great age still remain, recent products manufactured more than a billion units virtually disappear. There was no museum devoted to the collection of mobile phones. Even the mobile phone companies failed to preserve their own products. Some of these companies have disappeared completely with their products. Then, how will succeeding generation of Koreans know the history of the mobile phones’ development without a preservation of recent technologies?

Hundreds of new mobile phone models come out every year. It is difficult to collect them all even though someone tries to collect them every day. Then, if neglected for years, it becomes impossible to collect them. The standard definition of an antique, “at least 50 years old,” should not be applied to such a rapidly evolving product like a mobile phone. We should collect and exhibit today’s products now instead of trying to find past products after they have become extinct. Also, since museum pieces must be exhibited to demonstrate changes at a glance, today’s pieces must be exhibited with the older pieces. As a result, the legacy of the Phone Museum, which is world-first and unique, will become the cultural legacy of Korea, and furthermore, that of the world in near future.

For these reasons, and with this vision, I opened the Phone Museum. Although there are some historic mobile phones made in Korea, which claim to have made world first function, that are yet to be collected, I hurried to open this museum with the hope that as this museum comes to be known widely, such items would be donated. I intend this museum shall be known, preserved, and ultimately transmitted to posterity with your encouragement and support, and many others around the world.

Director of the Phone Museum

Byeongcheol  Lee