A visit to the War Museum.

The separation between North and South Korea has been a source  of great sorrow to the Korean people. Rather than being “afraid” of their neighbors to the north like we might imagine, they actually mourn their divided country profoundly.

While we tend to think of North Korea has having excessive military pride and propoganda, the South does also. It must be a national characteristic.

This is a giant museum in downtown Seoul and is an extravaganza of epic proportions.  We decided to take a trip there today. They’ve done a beautiful job of telling the story of the war, from a South Korea perspective of course. We took the English- speaking tour which was very informative and detailed. The final room had a beautiful artsy sculpture made of thousands of dog tags which sparkled and twinkled in the dim light.

South Korea remains grateful and indebted to all the nations that came to its aid. In fact each nation who sent troops has its own memorial room with tributes to their generals. I am simplifying here, but after WW2, when Korea (occupied by Japan) was liberated, the Allies basically divided it at the 38th Parallel. Half was given to the USSR/China to administer and the other half to the U.S./U.N.  (If I am understanding this correctly.) The UN restored democracy back to South Korea. Well in 1953, the North, back by Communist USSR decided they wanted the whole thing and pushed South Korea down to the far southeast corner, of course taking the capital Seoul, in the process. The U.S. was the first arrive and counter attack with both an inland push and a surprise attack by sea to take Seoul, and led by General MacArthur. The Armistice was signed in 1953 and a 2km buffer zone was established, agreed to by both sides. This DMZ as we know, still exists today and is a bona fide cold war relic. The takeaway message of this War Museum is that South Koreans really do believe the Americans saved them from becoming an entirely Communist country. But the war was bloody and brutal (aren’t they all?) to get the job done.

Few people know that this three-year war separated 10 million families and left 100,000 orphans. The museum tour taught us all kinds of interesting facts about the war, including that it’s not really “over,” but merely in cease fire status.

In front of the War Museum. We noticed that my sunglasses are the exact same style that Gen MacArthur is pictured wearing in one of the exhibit halls.

In front of the War Museum. We noticed that my sunglasses are the exact same style that Gen MacArthur is pictured wearing in one of the exhibit halls.

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One of the exhibits from the ancient warfare rooms. The Museum tag line was " War and Peace" but it was really about mostly war.

One of the exhibits from the ancient warfare rooms. The Museum tag line was ” War and Peace” but it was really about mostly war.

Chris and me in front of this HUGE building!

Chris and me in front of this HUGE building!

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4 comments

  1. Dom Cerra · February 16, 2015

    Wow that is so amazing! I would LOVE to be able to see it

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  2. KonaCoconutz · February 16, 2015

    Kyle suggested going here. Of course there is a ton of ostentatious and biased displays but it’s really well done with a plethora of original relics. and it’s amazing how indebted they are to the nations that came to its aid. Really there would not be a South Korea today as it was pushed all the way down to a small corner of the peninsula by the North, which at the time had USSR backing. If MacArthur hadn’t moved to take back Seoul from the water side, with a counter attack coming across land, pushing it back up and then down finally to the 38th parallel, this country would all be Communist. They did not stand a chance of defending themselves on their own. The US was the first to come to their defense.

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  3. butterflycheryl · February 18, 2015

    My father served in the Army during the Korean war.You are doing an incredible job here documenting your trip.I am really enjoying reading your blog and the pictures are amazing.I found myself tearing up thinking about the starving children and adults in NK…..

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    • KonaCoconutz · February 18, 2015

      Thank you so much! I’m kind of frustrated with wordpress. I’m limited trying to do this from an iPad. It keeps glitching up and I have to start over so I give up. Your dad would have been interested I’m the war memorial I am sure!

      Like

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