Monday, April 07, 2008

A Trip to the War Memorial and Museum

The War Memorial and Museum - Seoul, Korea

Last month, I visited the War Memorial and Museum, a huge museum that documents the history of war in Korea, including a large focus on the Korean War (1950-53). Being on a peninsula surrounded by China, Russia and Japan, Korea has seen it's fair share of battles. This modern museum is also a memorial to those who fought and died in the Korean War, including Koreans and UN soldiers.

21 countries took part in the UN operation to save South Korea after North Korea attacked suddenly at 4am and pushed the South to Busan. The UN forces pushed back and up the peninsula into the North, until a Chinese attack in 1950. Following two years of fierce fighting and unsuccessful victories on either side, an armistice was called in 1953. In the end, over three million soldiers and civilians on both sides were killed. The Republic of Korea lost 152,279 soldiers in action, America 33,642, UK 1086, and Canada 516.

The War Museum contains thousands of artifacts from the many wars Korea has been involved in: uniforms, guns, ammunition, documents, video footage, and vehicles - Russian tanks, Cobra helicopters, B52 bomers, and missiles. Huge missiles.

Take a look at a few pictures I took at the museum. It was a moving and informative experience, that is a must for anyone visiting Seoul!

Planes, tanks and military hardware outside the museum.
(Click to Enlarge)

More Planes

Wing of a B52. Huge.

Tanks and more tanks

Innocence of War
Cobra Helicopter


Children playing on military equipment...

War Monument at the center of the museum

Reflection on Warfare

Stark passages in the modern museum

The huge lobby of the Seoul War Memorial and Museum

Every Korean male must spend two years in the Army.

As my students have been telling me, every Korean male spends two years in the Korean Army in their 20s. What happens is that guys graduate high school and go to college. They "study" (drink, party and gain "life-experiences") for two years, and then go into the Army for two years. They come out more mature and disciplined, and then finish their studies.

People in relationships before the man enters the Army tend not to last. There is a Korean saying: When a man comes back from the Army, his girl will be gone. If she waited for him, the man will soon leave her. Not romantic, but quite realistic! Two years is a long time!

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