Posted by: rbbadger | April 27, 2009

War Memorial of Korea

In Yongsan-gu, not far from Yongsan Station and the famed Yongsan Electronics Market (if its powered by electricity, you’ll find it there), there is the War Memorial of Korea.  Built in 1994, it is meant to commemorate all of the various military actions Korea has been involved in at one time or another.

When you enter, you soon come upon this statue of two soldiers embracing, one from South Korea and the other from North Korea.

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Also, in the main plaza, you see the flags of the various nations which came to the aid of the new Republic of Korea.  In 1948, the Republic of Korea came into being and the USA removed its troops.  Two years later, North Korean troops under the leadership of Kim Jong-il, the supreme ruler of North Korea attacked.  A number of nations responded to the call of the United Nations including the USA, the United Kingdom, France, Greece, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and a few others.

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Here is a shot of the building itself.  It looks rather forbidding in a governmental sort of way.

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Inside, you see a huge drum.  If you visit Gyeongbok Palace when they are doing the changing of guards ceremony, you will see (and hear) a drum not unlike this one.  It is monstrously huge and adorned with a painting of a tiger.  Until the 20th century, tigers roamed the hills and mountains of Korea.  They were thought to have been extinct.  During a rare thaw between South Korea and North Korea, North Korea presented South Korea with a tiger they had come across.  It currently lives in the Children’s Grand Park in Seoul.

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The face of the drum bears the Korean take on the yin and yang symbol.  While the flag bears the version that is most familiar in the west, another version is often seen here.  The three colours represent heaven, earth, and mankind.

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The memorial has a replica of one of the famed turtle ships (Geobukseon, 거북선) of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin (이순신).  Unfortunately, this is only a replica and is not to full scale.  It is a good guess of what one might have looked like.

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The museum also contains a hwacha, that truly terrifying instrument perfected during the reign of King Sejong the Great.  Towards the end of his life, hwachas capable of launching two hundred explosive arrows at a time were made.  While it was not possible to precisely aim them, the sight of two hundred arrows coming in your general direction must have been terrifying.  The arrows were designed to explode on contact.  Thanks to extremely detailed drawings which have survived to the present day, the Mythbusters were able to make one and see whether or not it worked.  It does.

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Finally, I’ll leave you with this message from the War Memorial of Korea.

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Responses

  1. I’m glad you get to see all these things! I need to find the Mythbusters where they make a hwacha.

  2. i’m with christine on the hwacha. that’s really cool! and that’s cool they found a tiger too. spencer loves tigers for some reason. you should hear his scary tiger… sound? not really a growl. it’s funny.


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