Posted by: rbbadger | August 29, 2011

유엔기념공원 (UN Memorial Cemetery, Busan)

The Korean War was an important historically for a number of reasons.  It was the first war which took place under the aegis of the United Nations.  Nowadays, it is called “the forgotten war”.  However, the memories are very much alive here in Korea.

On August 15, 1948, the Republic of Korea came into being with Rhee Syngman as the first president.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, based in Pyeongyang and lead by Kim Il-sung, followed suit a few weeks later.  In 1949, the United States withdrew its troops from South Korea.  In 1949, the People’s Republic of China came into being. 

On June 25, 1950, the DPRK invaded South Korea.  They very quickly overwhelmed the South Korean troops.  Most the Korean peninsula fell under DPRK control, with the exception of the Busan area.  The United Nations Security Council voted to intervene.  However, it was not until the famous Incheon landing of September 1950, lead by General Douglas MacArthur, that the progress of the war began to change.  Chairman Mao sent in the People’s Liberation Army to aid the North Koreans.  In 1953, an armistice agreement was signed.  No peace treaties were ever signed and technically the war is still on to this day. 

The UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan holds the graves of some of the fallen.  Some 33,000 US troops lost their lives in the conflicts.  Even greater losses were sustained by the Chinese and from the two Koreas.  It is estimated that some two million Koreans were killed, both civilian and military. 

In Busan, a cemetery was created to hold the remains of some of the fallen.  Additionally, four women are buried there next to their husbands.  The cemetery is in an exquisitely beautiful location.  It is very well worth visiting.  To those who might want to visit, take the green line (line number 2) to Daeyeon station, take exit number 3 and follow the signs.  It is about a fifteen minute walk from the station.

The Memorial Service Hall looks like a chapel.  The sixteen lines on the wall behind the podium represent the sixteen UN countries which came to South Korea’s aid.  Here, you can watch a video presentation about the UN Memorial Cemetery and the Korean War.  From here, you can go through the gate leading to the cemetery.

The first place you’ll end up is at the symbolic area.  Here, there are some memorials to the various countries that fought in the war, as well as some graves of soldiers.

As far as cemeteries go, the grounds are lovely.  I will be posting more photos in the next day or so.  You’re also welcome to peruse the site of the UN Memorial Cemetery itself at http://www.unmck.or.kr.  There is a lot of information there, and it’s in English.  Also, you can dedicate flowers to the fallen.  Each day, a different soldier buried there is profiled.

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