If you delve into the history of the Korean Peninsula, you’ll discover that there were very few years of peace. From invasions by the Mongols, Chinese, and Japanese in the distant past to the most recent Korean War, there have been many battles fought and lives lost in what is now South Korea. Therefore, it makes sense that there would be a museum dedicated to the history of war in Korea.
Sitting in Itaewon, just outside of the U.S. military base in downtown Seoul, is the Korean War Memorial, a large concrete building with a myriad of planes, tanks, and boats outside.
Approaching the museum, it is nearly impossible to not get drawn in by the giant machines of war sitting to the right of the building. Taking a stroll around the grounds provides you with the opportunity to see Korean War era machines up close. Get behind an anti-aircraft gun, climb inside of a troop transporter, or walk around a boat, all from the confines of the museum’s courtyard.
When you enter the museum, which is free to visit, proceed down the stairs to start your tour. The basement of the building provides information about warfare in ancient Korea, including a replica of a Turtle Ship, one of the most effective war boats of its time.
The ground floor and top floor provide excellent information on the Korean War, with good signage and videos in English to help you better understand the war. There are also examples of some of the weapons used and countless maps and other visual aids.
The top floor has an entire room dedicated to the nations that helped support South Korea during the Korean war. Moving displays indicating the human toll for each nation, as well as a display of uniforms and weapons, takes up a large part of the floor. There is also a section dedicated to Korea’s more recent military action in the Vietnam War and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They also discuss some of the attacks perpetrated by North Korea in recent years.
A visit to the Korean War Memorial is a must for any history buff, but should be considered by every visitor to Seoul. Not only does it provide an excellent introduction to war in Korea, but it is a very well done museum that anyone with an interest in history can appreciate.
Getting to the Korean War Memorial
Getting to the Korean War Memorial is fairly straightforward. The closest subway station is Samgakji Station on subway lines 4 and 6. It is five minute walk to the War Memorial from the station. You can also take bus 110A from Itaewon Station on line 6, which stops right outside of the War Memorial.