After we’d finished our “half-day” tour of the DMZ, we decided to end the day on a light note: The War Memorial of Korea. The museum is dedicated to all of the wars in Korean history but—for obvious reasons—one war dominated the narrative.
Like I said a post or two ago: most South Koreans that we spoke to were optimistic about the idea of reunification and missed their (sometimes literal) brothers and sisters in the North. Keep in mind that Korea as a unified country began in the summer of 1392 with the start of the Joseon Era until the beginning of the Korean War. Because of this shared history, at least on the side of the South, there isn’t much resentment and most monuments depict the South and North as being two divided parts of a whole. And the first thing that we saw when we walked up to the museum showed the depth of the conflict. The Statue of Brothers shows an older South Korean soldier embracing a younger North Korean soldier.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Before we went inside the museum, I saw a plane parked at the side of the building. I had found the outdoor field exhibit: tanks, old airplanes, ground artillery, and a even replica Navy Patrol Boat. In my excitement, I didn’t always get pictures of the placards so I don’t remember what all of the equipment was called, so let me know if I get one wrong.
The iconic weaponry and technology advances of World War 2 have lived on in reputation and lore—Panzer tanks, the Messerschmitt Jet Engine, M1 Garand, and of course the Willy’s Jeep—but the machinery from the Korean War isn’t often remembered well. Some equipment—like the Sherman M4 tank—saw fighting in both wars. Jets were used for the first time in war, but the technology was developed by the Germans during WW2. Neither were a product of the Korean War despite playing a large part.
With that being said, there was still plenty of neat stuff in this yard. There were lines of tanks, both American and Soviet designs, all in great condition.
On the outer perimeter of the area were several jet fighters that were used in the war.
By this point, I’d hardly realized that I was I was now alone. Sarah had wondered off and before I ventured too far into the park, I had to backtrack to find her. She was by the entrance to the museum. She had found a fish to keep her entertained.
But I needed her help with something. Below is a picture I took of a Fairchild C-119…
I wanted a picture of myself next to the plane that is, according to Google, called “The Flying Boxcar”.
Next up was a MiG-19 (Soviet designed) Again, these were all flown in the fog of war which made them so much more interesting to me.
A McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II:
An M1 90mm Anti-Aircraft Gun:
A Bell AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter:
A ground-missile system that I don’t remember the name of, unfortunately.
And naturally, you could walk up to the standing machine guns. Once again, I didn’t get the name of it but I did get to live out a (probably inappropriate for a war memorial) action movie fantasy behind the gun.
The last thing that made me really giddy at the outdoor exhibit was the replica of PKM-357, a Navy Patrol Boat that sunk during the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong in 2002–almost 50 years after the Korean War ended. Every red circle you see was a bullet hole which, on this side, wasn’t bad.
But the other side was significantly worse.
I got up and walked on the deck for a little bit, eventually winding up on the bow.
After this, we went inside the main museum, where we stayed until it closed at 7. I don’t have any pictures because I was both trying to go quickly but also deeply engrossed in the subject matter.
Closing note: On the way home, Sarah busted out this chocolate bar which was probably one of the more normal-sounding ones on sale.
Next up: we leave Seoul and go out to Gyeongju.
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