War Memorial of Korea
Trip Start Aug 16, 2013
376Trip End Aug 25, 2013
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The Itaewon neighbourhood also has english speaking tourist info guides patrolling the neighbourhood. They are they to provide free maps and any information about the neighbourhood or the city. I've seen them a couple of times I've been in Itaewon as well as in other tourist areas of Seoul.
The War Memorial of Korea had free admission although the tourist info guide book says it was 3000w ($2.50). I thought it was just a memorial to the korean war and might be a bit repetitious having just gone to war museums in HCMC and Hanoi Vietnam recently but I was presently surprised.
The first thing to remember is korea is technically still at war with the north and there are still active flashpoints. In the main lobby was a memorial to the naval soldiers killed in the sinking of a naval vessel in 2010.
I started at the top floor to work my way down. There was a section on the vietnam war and the chu chu war tunnels I had just visited. (see blog entry on Chu Chu War Tunnels http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/londone7/19/1328698952/tpod.html )
Then there was a section on the korean war, the battles, refugees, and temporary shelters, as well as the many foreign nationals that came to help the korean war effort. This was then followed by a section on korean overseas missions today where korea is now helping in conflict zones.
The more I wandered around one question came to mind.
Why do we have War Memorials all over the world when politicians still want to lie and lead us into false wars for their own self interests.
Down in the basement was the most interesting level. This was more historical covering korean armies over the centuries. The basement lobby had a giant turtle battleship with many large wall paintings depicting many battle scenes on all sides of the large hall.
They had displays of costumes and military uniforms. My favourite were historical costumes from the armies of UK, France, USA, Spain, China, and Japan. There was also a mock fortress wall and gate from the Suwon Fortress along with a miniature replica of the entire fortress.
The outside grounds were filled with many large aircrafts and heavy artillery as it had been in the Vietnam war museums. There were fighter jets and US army transport planes. You could go into a couple of them to see the interior and cockpit.
There was also a large naval vessel. Again you could go inside, see the bridge, and walk on the deck. The lower floor was a memorial to the soldiers that had died recently in 2011 when North Korea shelled the island of Yeongpyeong just off the coast of Seoul.
The museum turned out to be much more interesting than just a repetition of the Vietnam war museums I had just seen. Not only did they cover the history and major battles fought in korea over the centuries, they also talked about the armies of other nations. They covered the history of women serving in the korean forces, and koreans serving overseas.
This was also a memorial to the recent conflicts with the north as this is still an active, if forgotten, conflict zone. The museum is worth spending a few hours to learn about the korean war, history of korean battles, recent conflicts with the north, and armies around the world.