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.