War Memorial of Korea

In all my time in Seoul, both before and after going to Busan, I’d stayed in this lovely hostel run by a considerate owner. It was well located, reasonably priced, close to a grocer, and had all the facilities I wanted: washing machine and dryer (both free to use), kitchen, and dining/lounge area.

They even let me check in early. However, for my final two days, they were full. The weekends were always booked in advance. So, I made my way to the other side of the river, conveniently accessible from a nearby bus stop, to another hostel.

After going to the DMZ the other day, I was curious to learn more about the Korean War. The War Memorial has a history of the conflict.

When I got to the War Memorial, a parade was about to begin. Again, I’d arrived just in time to see a spectacle. At one point, I had to laugh at the incongruous sight of people dressed as cartoon characters marching next to people in military uniform!

Before Korea was partitioned, in 1910, Japan invaded it. This remained the case until the end of World War II. In 1945, the United States and the Soviet Union divided Korea along the 38th parallel to form the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North) and the Republic of Korea (South).

The Korean War (1950-3) started when the North Korean People’s Army invaded the South. Their objective was to unify Korea and have North Korea ruling the whole peninsula.

There would probably be no South Korea now if the UN hadn’t intervened. Many countries, including the US, the UK, and Turkey sent troops. The War Memorial had a roll of honour:

Gradually, the South fought back. Once they had the upper hand on home territory, the South wanted to continue north with the intention of uniting Korea, just as the North had tried, but this time under the Southern government. The intervention of China on behalf of North Korea helped stop this. Thereafter, in about 1951, there was a stalemate, and it became a war of attrition.

The Korean War was the most destructive conflict in the modern era. More people died, proportionately, than either World War II or Vietnam. The signing of the peace armistice in 1953 ended the war but there was no formal declaration of its end. In 2018, the North and South’s governments met. They released a statement, the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

After the intensity of the War Memorial, I went to the Seoul Metropolitan Library.

On the way to the library, I saw this on the metro:

It’s quite common to see young woman walking around in South Korea with a single roller in their hair. This woman got off at the same station as me and, coincidentally, I saw her at the exit removing the roller. It had served its purpose.

After leaving the library, I searched Google Maps for a veggie restaurant. There was one a bus ride away. The bus, when it came, was like the demonic ones in Hong Kong. In Seoul, however, it was driven more sedately. I got to the restaurant, Vegetus, just before it closed. The chips were tasty, but the burger was quite bland, but I was thankful to get some food.

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