Sunday, August 23, 2009

Korean War Memorial Museum

So, it is an impressive edifice, but my favorite part of the Korean War Memorial was The Statue of Brothers, an installation on the west side of the grounds depicting the Korean War as a struggle of brother against brother; mainly for this very cool mural on the inside. My appreciation of art is quirky, I'll admit, but looky:

I like this mural a lot!

this is the inside view of the 'crack' between the brothers
My second favorite part is all the planes, armored vehicles and stuff in the large outdoor park, where Sherman tanks rub shoulders with P-51s, all right in front of you for touching and climbing on:

The museum itself is quite extensive, with separate sections for each period of warfare on the Korean peninsula. The bottom floor has a big hall with a recreated geobukseon or turtle boat of Admiral Yi, which is an armored boat that prefigured the Monitor by 250 years.

The rest of the bottom floor charts Korean history through the Three Kingdoms period to Joseon and the Japanese colonial period. A collection of artifacts and weapons shares space with enormous paintings depicting famous battles. This was something else I liked here.

Detail of War between Scylla and Tang: Battle of Maesoseong Fortress
The Japanese Pirate Expedition in Joseon dynasty
Two things I did not like: 1) the corporate insignia on many displays, even though this is becoming more common everywhere:

2) the children's play area--war is a significant idea, and one about which children should become educated, but moon bounces and the like are antithetical and demeaning to the proper purpose of a war memorial.

The Korean War area covers the third floor with loads of information about the UN countries involved, a few nice multimedia presentations about signficant battles, and a series of dioramas (Korean museums love dioramas) about the war's impact on Korean civilians.

On the whole, an informative but poorly arranged/signed museum (maybe in part because it has so much material), which is certainly worth a look. If you are arranging a DMZ tour, as I was, at the Camp Kim USO Office (Samgakji exit 10, straight ahead), the War Memorial is literally across the street, and cost 3,000 won to enter.

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