After having spent the entire morning in the gigantic National Museum of Korea, I moved on to another part of Seoul to see more of its history. This time, I went to the War Memorial of Korea, a museum dedicated to Korea’s military history.
The moment I entered the War Memorial, I was greeted by statues and old planes on display. Even with the sweltering heat I decided not to make a beeline for the museum entrance but enjoy the planes, tanks, and guns on display. Once again, I wasn’t prepared for the museum’s grandiose structure, shaped like a letter U, the museum commemorated the nations who helped liberate South Korea from the North during the Korean War of 1950. Looking at it from afar, I was reminded of Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC, with the same colonial architecture and marbled-facade, the museum truly felt like it was built for the military. Inside, the museum is divided once again into three floors: the first being Korea’s early military history from the Silla period to the Joseon Dynasty, the second, the Korean War; and the last, South Korea’s involvement in the United Nations and the future of their military.
The first place I started was the exhibit on the Korean War, having only read about this event in my textbooks, it was nice to learn about this event from a Korean perspective. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed, the exhibit was a trove of information, some parts I knew, some I didn’t. Throughout the entire experience, the War Memorial goes to great lengths to remind its people of the struggles they experienced, documents and personal accounts of soldiers and commanders made the war very personal.
Throughout the museum, there were touchscreen displays to help visitors know more about the exhibit, some would have documents others would have videos, and sometimes there would be 3D and 4D rides to make the narrative even more interesting. Yes, 4D and 3D rides, the first one I road was titled “Operation Chromite” where I was strapped to the seat of a P-51 Mustang during the Incheon landings, the other one was the grueling battle near the Yalung River after the South Koreans had driven the North Koreans to the border of China. Undoubtedly, the use of this technology was quite fun.
After spending considerable time in the Korean War exhibit, I moved through the rest of museum and learned just a little bit more about Korea’s military history. The South Koreans really paid no expense in expressing their pride towards their military, their remembrance of events that shaped their history, and their gratitude towards countries that have helped and they themselves helped in the past.
War Memorial of Korea
29 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu
Open daily from 9:00 – 6:00