10 Must-see Korean War Collections at the War Memorial

From the Taegeukgi to fighters

A bloodstained South Korean flag(Taegeukgi)War Memorial of Korea

Blood-stained Taegeukgi

The Korean flag, called Taegeukgi, was owned by Korean War veteran, Robert Slote. During the Korean War, Slote treated wounded South Korean soldiers. He said that one of the soldiers he treated took the flag out of his chest pocket and gave it to him as a token of gratitude. To find the true owner of this blood-stained Taegeukgi, Slote visited the Korean Embassy in the United States in December of 2009. Unfortunately, the owner of the flag could not be found, and so it was put on display at the War Memorial.

The identification tag of Sergeant Lee Chun-wooWar Memorial of Korea

Dog Tag of the Late Second Lieutenant Lee Cheon-woo

This dog tag was discovered together with the remains of the late Second Lieutenant Lee Cheon-woo, who fought in the Korean War. This artifact tells the story of two brothers who left their beloved hometown and single mother during the Korean War. They were finally laid to rest together after many years. In August of 1950, when battles were fierce at River Nakdong, Second Lieutenant Lee Cheon-woo's older brother (Staff Sergeant Lee Man-woo, 22) joined the Army first, and then one month later, Second Lieutenant Lee Cheon-woo's older brother (Staff Sergeant Lee Man-woo, 22) joined the Army first, and then one month later, Second Lieutenant Lee Cheon-woo also followed suit and volunteered.

The older brother was killed in action at the Battle of Goyang on May 7, 1951 (receiving the Hwarang Order of Military Merit), and on September 25 of the same year, Second Lieutenant Lee Cheon-woo was also killed at the Battle of Baeseok Mt. in Yang-gu of Gangwon-do at the young age of 20. Due to the fierce combat, Second Lieutenant Lee's body could not be recovered and was left there for many years. Finally, in October of 2010, the Ministry of Defense's team for finding and identifying remains discovered  and identified the body, which was laid to rest in the 'Patriotic Brothers' Tomb' at the Seoul National Cemetery.

Army pocket notebook Army pocket notebookWar Memorial of Korea

ROK Army Notebook donated by Jung Ui-gu

This is a notebook carried by the donor (Jung Ui-gu) during the Korean War. Despite being hit by shrapnel in the right arm and near the heart by a grenade thrown by a North Korean soldier at Hill Mumyeong in Yecheon of Gyeongbuk ...

Army pocket notebookWar Memorial of Korea

... The Zippo lighter and this ROK Army notebook that he carried in his left pocket protected him from fatal injuries. This is a special artifact that saved the life of a man during the war.

Handwritten ‘Fight to Death’ slogan on a helmet of the 2nd Regiment, the ROK 6th Infantry DivisionWar Memorial of Korea

Helmet with the inscription '決死'

'This is a rusty helmet containing the story about the Battle of Yongmunsan during the Korean War with the inscription '決死 (Gyeolsa, 결사: Do-or-die).' The victory at the Battle of Yongmunsan was the result of the soldiers of the 6th Division, who fought in a solo operation of the Korean Army, with the spirit of a do-or-die, called gyeolsa in Korean, or in other words, the spirit of 'Those who seek death shall live. Those who seek life shall die.' The 'gyeolsa' helmet that showed the bitter determination at the Battle of Yongmunsan is on display in the Korean War Room.

A pocket watch of locomotive engineer Kim Jae-hyeon who is killed on dutyWar Memorial of Korea

Pocket watch of Engineer Kim Jae-hyun and railway war medal

During the Korean War, not only male soldiers, but also the police, women, students, laborers, train engineers, and more did their best to protect the nation in their respective positions. The pocket watch and railway war medal are relics that remember the story of Kim Jae-hyun, who was a train engineer.

A railway service medal ribbon of locomotive engineer Kim Jae-hyeon who is killed on duty(1), From the collection of: War Memorial of Korea
A railway service medal ribbon of locomotive engineer Kim Jae-hyeon who is killed on duty(2), From the collection of: War Memorial of Korea
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Three engineers of the Daejeon Engine Office, including engineer Kim Jae-hyun, received instructions to transfer ammunition and supplies on cargo from Daejeon Station to Yeongdong and departed from Daejeon Station with a 'Mika3-29 steam engine' located at Iwon Station in Okcheon-gun escorted by about 30 US soldiers. But it was ambushed by the enemy and its wet pit was destroyed, thus arriving at Daejeon Station with a loss of power to tow the train. Later, while heading toward Okcheon Station with escorts, engineer Kim Jae-hyun was killed by enemy attacks. After the ceasefire, Kim Jae-hyun became the first railway worker to be laid to rest in the tombs of officers at the Seoul National Cemetery in 1983, and his services were also recognized by the US Department of Defense in 2012, thus receiving a plaque of appreciation and the US Secretary of Defense exceptional civilian service award.

Iron stake for North Korean machine gunner to prevent desertionWar Memorial of Korea

Steel stake for fastening position of machine gunner

This is a steel stake that was fixed deep into the ground tying the ankles of North Korean machine gunners so that they could not run away. This was discovered in the Cheorwon region, a stalemate area that experienced bloody battles during the Korean War, and it is a relic that shows the horrors and tragedies of war.

F-51D Mustang Fighter

Before the Korean War, the ROK Air Force did not have a single fighter plane. Immediately after the outbreak of the war, the Air Force sent 10 Korean pilots including Colonel Lee Geun-seok to take over 10 F-51D planes from the US Air Force, which they brought to the airfield in Daegu to operate the country's first fighters.

Since then, the Air Force operated a total of about 130 planes and took part in various battles through a total of 8,495 flight missions. The aircraft on display was the first fighter operated directly by the Korean Armed Forces during the Korean War by General Kim Young-hwan, thus being recognized for its historical value and it was designated as Registered Cultural Artifact 666 on October 20, 2016.

T-6 Trainer (Geongukgi)

This is a trainer plane developed in the US in the late 1930s and during the Korean War, it was used for reconnaissance and light attacks. At the time of the outbreak of the war, the Korean Air Force, which became independent from the Army on October 1, 1949,did not have a single attack plane. In September of 1949, there was a pan-national fund-raising movement for purchasing aircraft under the motto 'Let's buy our aircraft on our own', and funds exceeding the target amount of 350 million KRW (300,000 USD) were raised.

Instrument panel of T-6 trainer aircraft(Geongukgi)War Memorial of Korea

Thanks to the donations, the Korean Armed Forces was able to purchase 10 used T-6 trainers from Canada and on May 15 of the same year, a naming ceremony for these planes was held and it was named Geongukgi by President Rhee Syngman.

MiG-15 vs F-86

Jet fighters were developed for the first time in the world by Germany near the end of World War II, but they were not used during combat. Jet fighters became common in the Korean War when there were aerial battles between jet fighters for the first time in the world. The first aerial battle between F-86 and MiG-15 fighters, which were the main fighter force of the UN and Communist Forces during the Korean War, can be checked out at the exhibitions of the War Memorial.

T-34 Tanks

During the Korean War, the North Korean Army made a surprise attack against South Korea, placing T-34 tanks that it received from the Soviet Union on its frontlines. The South Korean Army did not have a single tank at the time and therefore could not stop the sudden attack of North Korea, and their lines crumbled in early combat and were pushed back to the perimeter around River Nakdong. South Korea was terrified of the T-34, which they saw for the first time. The T-34 on display both indoors and outdoors teaches us the lessons of the Korean War.

Credits: Story

Planning: Jung Seo-hee, Shin Yoo-jin
Editing/Host: Jung Seo-hee
Reference: 'Commentary of the War Memorial of Korea' (War Memorial of Korea, 2020)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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