Thursday, February 5, 2009

The War Memorial of Korea

Today, Kim and I took a trip over to The War Memorial of Korea which is a museum depicting the many wars that Korea has been involved in.  The museum consists of 3 floors which includes 6 Exhibition Rooms as well as an Outdoor Exhibition Area of military equipment.  It costs 3,000 KRW per person.  It is located in Yongsan-dong.  You can get there by taking Line #4 or #6 to the Samgakji Station or Line #1 to the Namyeong Station.  Kim and I spent over 3 1/2 hours at the museum so obviously there is plenty to look at.  

When you enter a museum, you will notice that they have a walking path mapped out for your convenience.  You do not have to follow this path, but it ensures you the best opportunity to view every exhibit.  We saw displays of ways that date back to 100 B.C. and the museum takes you all the way up to South Korea's modern day army.  Almost every description had an English translation below the Korean.  Below you will see some of Kim and my favorite pictures.

A view of the front of the museum.

A couple of sculptures from the front of the museum.  

This hallway is at the beggining of the tour.  It contains several statues of former South Korean soldiers who exemplified themselves during war.  It was very interesting reading all of their stories.  Most of them had to do with the individual sacrificing their life to save their fellow soldiers.

We saw several different weapons ranging from prehistoric knives to modern day rocket launchers.  Below is a device used to get over the walls of an enemy's fortress.  I have seen this before in movies but up until today, I did not realize that they were real and used in actual combat.

A fairly massive cross-bow.  

  Below is a device that can shoot up to 100 arrows at one time.  I can only imagine how scary that had to be for their enemies when they see a sky littered with arrows after 4 or 5 of these things are fired off.   

As you might expect to see in an Asian war museum, there was a larger display of swords.

Look at the size of the arrow that they would fire from this cannon.  

This is a bomb used during World War II.  It weighs 500 lbs.  If you notice the picture in the background, the plane is dropping several of these bombs at once.

One of the best parts of the museum was their wax figure displays.  They were very realistic looking and the detail was unbelievable.  A few of them included audio commentary that describes the battle being depicted.  The audio commentary comes in Korean, Chinese, Japanese and English.

Below of some of our favorite paintings and pictures that we came across.

I am not sure what the letter said, but this is a picture of a POW and a letter that he wrote in his own blood while being held captive.

During the war, the citizens of South Korea had to live on as little as 1 spoonful of rice a day.  Despite these hardships, Korean parents were very focused on their children's education during the war and this determination was one of the driving forces of Korea's industrialization after the war.

Below is a personal letter written by Gen. MacArthur during the Korean War.  Kim and I both felt foolish about our lack of knowledge of America's involvement in the war.  From what I saw, I think the Koreans have a great respect for Gen. MacArthur and were surprised that he was relieved of his command during the war.

There were some fighter plans, helicopters and wax figurines on parachuters suspended from the ceiling.

Another favorite of mine was the submarine exhibit.  The display allowed you to walk through a submarine model.  It really gave you a feeling of how tight the quarters were, especially for me.

Modern day South Korean soldier.

The tour ends with an outdoor exhibit of over 50 different pieces of military equipment.

In my opinion this was the best display in the museum.  It is called a Turtle Ship and it is considered one of the finest battleships ever created.  This ship is credited with being one of the main reasons for Korea's victory over Japan and their invasion.  The name Turtle Ship comes from how the ship defends itself.  The top of the boat is a hard wooden shell with sharp spikes.  Inside there are 2 levels, the bottom contains the rowers and the top contains the captain and the cannons.  The Koreans would pull up close to the Japanese ships and sink them with their cannons.  The Japanese, who relied heavily on their superior hand-to-hand combat skills, could not board the ship due to the shell.  Japan, who had been soundly defeating the Koreans up to this point, could not send additional reinforcements and Korea ended up fending off the invasion.  

1 comment:

Aunt Carol said...

It is so amazing to think about how old this civilization is -- and how developed was their weaponry from those early eras!