The War Memorial of Korea is located in the former Army Headquarters in Yongsan, which was a strategic military location, and opened on June 10, 1994. The space of the War Memorial designed by architect Lee Sung-gwan was designed under the two concepts of a memorial hall for paying tribute and displaying exhibits, as well as an urban park.
There are a total of about 9,500 pieces on display at the War Memorial, and it is the most famous memorial hall possessing and exhibiting the most artifacts related to the Korean War. The indoor and outdoor exhibit spaces spanning an area of approximately 678,100 square feet (63,000 sq m) are composed of seven exhibition rooms such as the Memorial Hall, War History Room Ⅰ and Ⅱ, Korean War Room Ⅰ, Ⅱ, and Ⅲ, Exhibition Hall for Donated Relics, Expeditionary Forces Room, ROK Armed Forces Room, and the Large Industries Equipment Room, as well an outdoor exhibition area with various large-sized weapons and structures.
Peace Plaza is a circular central square and symbolizes the sanctity of the heavens. The flags on the left and right of the inner part of Peace Plaza represent the 21 countries that participated in the Korean War.
Korean War Combatant Nation Monument
The Korean War Combatant Nation Monuments are displayed in Peace Plaza and were installed to express the appreciation of the people of the Republic of Korea for countries that participated in the Korean War in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the UN back in 2015. There are 21 monuments to represent the combat units from 16 countries and medical support units from 5 countries under the flag of the UN. The country name, period of participation, scope of participation, total number of participants, number of wounded, number of killed, and tributes to the veterans are written in the respective languages on each of the monuments.
On the left side outside of Peace Plaza are the flags of 23 units dispatched abroad including the ROK Command in Vietnam, which was the Republic of Korea's first unit deployed overseas, Cheongnyong Unit, Maengho Unit, Baekma Unit, Bidulgi Unit, Shipjaseong Unit, and Eunma Unit.
Korean War Monument
The Korean War Monument made up of two massive streamlined columns facing each other and springing up into the sky is an embodiment of the Korean bronze dagger called the Sehyung Bronze Dagger, and it expresses the two images of a bronze dagger and the tree of life. The bronze dagger represents the long history and martialism of the Korean people and the tree of life expresses the strength of the Korean people that continues to thrive even through hardships.
The Defending the Country statue depicting 38 people is located on the left and right sides of the Korean War Monument. It embodies the various people from different sectors and classes who took part in the Korean War and it shows the sacrifices and patriotism of the martyrs who fought to protect history and life.
To the left and right of the War Memorial is the Monument of KIA (Killed in Action) in an open-square shape. On this monument, about 170,000 soldiers and police names of those who were killed since the establishment of the army are engraved, along with the 40,000 UN Forces that were killed during the Korean War for a total of 210,000 people killed in action.
The Monument of KIA is listed in order of the Korean alphabet by division for the Korean military KIA and the order of the English alphabet by the country for the UN KIA. There are a total of 204 monuments and 1,500 names engraved on each monument.
The War Memorial of Korea is also additionally engraved with the names of those found to have been killed in action later or who were killed recently, six soldiers from the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong in 2002, and a monument of 46 Navy seamen on the Cheonanham of 2010 were added.
Statue of Brothers
The Statue of Brothers is also known for being the theme of the movie Taegukgi, and it is a sculpture that symbolizes the Korean War. This was created based on the true story of an elder brother who became an officer of the South Korean Army and the younger brother, a North Korean soldier, during the Korean War. The brothers dramatically and tragically met during the Korean War in a battle. This recreates the moment when the elder brother (Second Lieutenant Park Gyu-cheol) serving with the ROK 8th Division and the younger brother (Soldier Park Yong-cheol) under the North Korean 8th Army Division met while fighting against each other at the Battle of Chiak Hill in Wonju.
The semi-spherical dome under the brothers was built by piling up granite collected from around the nation to represent a tomb, and it symbolizes the sacrifices of countless patriotic martyrs.Maps of 16 countries that fought in the Korean War are engraved on the floor of the dome and the multiple steel chains tied up on the ceiling represent the unity of the Korean people that never want Korea to be divided again. The southern part of the mosaic murals filling the gaps express the national spirit, and the northern mural represents that the national disaster of the Korean War was overcome thanks to the devotion of the whole nation.
When entering the War Memorial, the first thing visitors will meet is the circular central hall. And straight ahead is the Memorial Hall.
Memorial Hall is a space for remembering the sacrifices of the countless patriotic martyrs who protected our country in times of war. This exhibition room displays the trials and victories of the Korean people, unification and prosperity, and the perpetuity of Koreans through works such as Footmarks of Patriotism, Creation and Spirit of the Nation.
War History Rooms Ⅰ and Ⅱ
The War History Room is a space that displays the history of war ranging from the prehistoric times to the Japanese Occupation. This exhibition room displays various military artifacts by era, and there is a diorama of the Battle of Salsu, a video of the Battle of Hansan Island, and a model of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress to make it easier to understand the history of Korean resistance. Between War History Rooms Ⅰ and Ⅱ is a model of the Turtle Ship at 1:2.5 of the actual size, which helped Korea win on the seas during the Japanese Invasion of 1592.
Korean War Rooms Ⅰ and Ⅱ
Korean War Rooms Ⅰ and Ⅱ exhibit the entire history including the background for North Korea's invasion of South Korea, the progress of the war, and the signing of the armistice, as well as the reality of war such as how people lived during the war. Visitors can experience realistic situations of the war through 4D videos of the 'Incheon Landing Operation' that turned the tides of the war and Another War that deals with the Battles of Chosin Reservoir.
Korean War Room Ⅲ
Korean War Room Ⅲ introduces the combat units from 16 countries and medical support units from six countries that fought in the Korean War, and it is a space to remember the noble sacrifice of the UN veterans who participated in the Korean War. The UN Memorial Park diorama at the entrance of the exhibit room and the Tear Drop sculpture at the exit express the Korean's remembrance of the participating countries in the Korean War.
Exhibition Hall for Donated Relics
The Exhibition Hall for Donated Relics introduces the stories behind donated relics and it is a place to express appreciation to those who practiced the beauty of donating. At the Donor Hall of Fame at the entrance of the hall, nameplates with the name of the donor who donated artifacts and the date of donation are on display to express gratitude to the donors. This exhibition hall includes exhibition spaces such as Patriotic Loyalty of Ancestors, Oh, Korean War, Vietnam War and PKO Activities, etc. In particular, visitors can see 102 relics from General Yang Heon-soo who warded off the French military during the French Campaign against Korea.
Expeditionary Forces Room
The Expeditionary Forces Room is a place that displays the history of the ROK military being deployed overseas from the Vietnam War, which was the first overseas deployment of the Republic of Korea, until the present times. This exhibition room is a replica of the company's strategic base, which was an independent base for deciding tactics for the Korean Army Command in Vietnam, and civilian support activities for separating the Vietcong and the regular population to show the activities of the ROK Army. It also deals with the activities of the Republic of Korea after joining the UN in 1991 as part of multinational forces in the Gulf War and Afghanistan and as part of the UN Peacekeeping Forces in Somalia, Angola, and East Timor.
ROK Armed Forces Room
The ROK Armed Forces Room is a place that displays the 'History of the ROK Armed Forces' from its founding to the present day and 'ROK Armed Forces Today' that introduces the Army, Navy, and Air Force that keep the Republic of Korea safe. This room shows ground weapons, guided weapons, personal and crew-served weapons, maritime weapons, aircraft weapons, and actual weapons of the future as well as models, and even videos to see the history of the development of the weapons of the ROK Armed Forces at a glance. In particular, the M1 Garand rifle, M16A1 rifle, and K2 rifle were installed on the personal weapons wall so that visitors can see the actual guns.
Large Equipment Room
The Large Industries Equipment Room displays large combat equipment used in the Korean War including aircraft, tanks, artillery, vehicles, etc. Aircraft hang from the ceiling on the left and right. On the left are Communist MiG-15 fighters and Yak-18 trainers, and on the right are Sabre 86 fighters of the UN Forces and South Korea's T-6 trainer (Geongukgi). The airplanes were placed so that they could be seen from below on the second floor and from above on the third floor. This exhibition room puts on display the T-34 Tank, M-46 Patton Tank, F-51 Mustang Fighter, President Rhee Syng-man's presidential automobile, and Kim Il-sung's automobile.
Planning/Editing/Host: Jung Seo-hee
Reference: Commentary of the War Memorial of Korea (War Memorial of Korea, 2020)