Wednesday, April 30, 2008

4/30/08 Korea War Museum

March 26th: Korea

The beginning of our last full day in Korea was spent at the War Memorial of Korea(website), a giant museum/memorial complex covering Korean conflicts stretching into prehistory. While a great deal of conflicts were covered, the Korean War dominated a large portion of the museum's material.

The land around the face of the museum was covered in large memorial statues and plaques. Around the backside of the building, then, was completely covered in retired war machines. Tanks, aircraft, missiles, and the occasional small water vehicle hailing from a multitude of nations were lined up. Little signs informed a bit about the importance of the armaments followed by a few boring technical specs.

The museum interior was large. Very large. Definitely the largest war museum that I have ever seen. It's hard to quantify how “long” a museum is in terms of the time required to experience everything. My guidebook estimated 3 hours, but I think thats a low figure. The amount of scattered video footage alone was at least an hour. Its really up to one's own attention span. How much war history can you handle? I was pretty interested in the whole thing, but by the end of our trip I was practically jogging through the exhibits.

One of several story telling aides were the life sized models depicting key moments in the wars. I was surprised at how good they looked.

I don't remember why it happened, but students were armed in order to fight the North Koreans during the Korean War. Pretty gruesome scene.

I didn't take a picture out of fear of being beaten, but there were several groups of military personnel touring the museum. Amusingly, on several occasions we saw groups of them holding hands. Grown men, walking through the museum in a chain, all holding hands, like kindergärtners. I didn't think it wise to point and laugh at these guys, but wow. Never leave a man behind, indeed.

One of my favorite bits was a case full of propaganda leaflets meant to undermine the opponents moral. I believe this one is addressed to Chinese soldiers, implying that Stalin is pushing them to their deaths.

Here's my favorite one. This looks to be aimed at Americans. To summarize, your family is worried about you, and the only safe way out of the war is to surrender. The smiling lady is a new POW's wife, pretty excited that her husband has been captured.

One new thing that I learned about the Korean War was the number of countries involved. Besides the Koreas, I knew of only the US and some sort of Chinese involvement. In reality the force fighting for the South was a United Nations force, comprised of the efforts of 17 nations.

The flags of the good guys.

A few more randoms.

This thing was pretty cool. It's meant to be a tear drop made from dog tags, covered in barbed wire.

Known as a turtle ship, these were some sort of technical advancement that was used to try to fend off the Japanese from Korean shores.

A little model of the Axe Murder Incident which took place in the Demilitarized Zone. A few men went in to chop down a tree that was obstructing the view of a guard post. The North Koreans sent in a truck full of soldiers and attacked the UN people with their own axes, killing two Americans. We viewed a plaque marking where the incident took place during our DMZ tour.


  1. Wow. Some pretty graphic displays.

    The Chinese involvement you mentioned was actually massive. As the American Army neared the Chinese border, the Chinese invaded Korea and attacked the American Army with a massive force of over 300,000 soldiers.

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