Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Korean War Museum

Just three subways stops away from Itaewon, the Korean War Museum was easily accessed when we stayed in Seoul a few weeks ago. I read a lot of Korean expat blogs, and honestly, I think everyone has done a post on the war museum over the last few weeks. It's like, the in thing to do right now. So of course I had to follow suit.

Actually I really just wanted to go to Insadong, but was overruled on this particular day. Luckily, I had read other blogs discussing the fact that, although it was super cool that the Dead Sea Scrolls were at the museum for a limited time, there was no English translation provided. I thought I would probably need a translation as did my friends, so we did not pay extra to go see that exhibit. We still really enjoyed ourselves, though. One could spend days at this museum- it's huge, and since Korea has such an extensive history of war and occupation, it is chock full of artifacts, recreations, maps and correspondance. I kept thinking that my Dad and brothers would have loved it, so I took lots of pictures for them. For you, faithful readers, I have posted only five, because I don't want to a) bore you, or b) ruin any surprises for when you go there yourself!

Just outside the museum there are several large statues, as well as old planes and a massive monument in the centre of the courtyard. This particular statue is much larger than what you see, and I thought it was interesting because at the front there were soldiers clearly being very brave and going into battle, but when you get toward the end of the statue you see women and children crying, clearly not wanting their men to go to war. Very touching.

They had all kinds of cool artifacts like these old fashioned bombs! One could also see the evolution of the sword from the very beginning of Korean history to the most recent. Oh, also a mean invention: spikes that were put in the ground so that horse would step on them and fall over. It's not the horse's damn fault you made it go to war!

This was my favourite part of the museum: the Korean War floor which had all of the information and correspondence between the United Nations and Korea in the days leading up to the war. It also had an area that showed what life was like in Korea during the war, and had information on all other foreign involvement.

There is one spot dedicated to Canada. After the US and Britain, we sent the largest amount of military support during the war. Actually, per capita we probably sent more. I'm not sure. But it was nice to see this little shout out.

This was part of the display showing the viewer what daily life was like for civilians during the war. This particular set shows the grief of a mother and daughter at the news of the father's death.

We spent hours at the museum and still, I don't think I managed to see everything. It definitely gives me a new perspective on Korean culture and the affect that war and occupation has had on Koreans, even now. I always knew that the war and, specifically, the Japanese occupation is still a soft spot and one generally shouldn't mention either to a Korean they do not know well (inquiries can sometimes be taken the wrong way, that's all- I can talk about these things with my close Korean friends), but now I have a much better understanding of the issues associated with Korean history.

You should go check it out too! Then post your experience on your blog. Come on. Jump on the bandwagon.

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

Nice blog. Keep up the good work. Cheers:-)