Defending the Fatherland

Defending the Fatherland

Located in central Seoul, north of the Han river, the War Memorial of Korea opened in 1994 to exhibit and memorialize the military history of Korea. Indeed, the exhibits include replicas of such key Korean military innovations such as the Hwacha (화차), which is considered to be the first multiple rocket launcher, as well as the celebrated turtle ship (거북선). The Turtle ship is credited with being created by admiral Yi Sun-sin, who famously used them to successfully repel the Japanese navy in the late 16th century.

I've always wanted to visit the War Memorial since I started traveling to Korea, but I never seemed to be able to make it there until probably my 6th or 7th [business] trip to Seoul. I even read David Halberstam's lengthy and thorough accounting of the Korean War in his book, "The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War." The book was illuminating and provided far more details than I ever could have imagined, especially after having only cursory knowledge of the war from school.

Rather than merely recounting the events of the Korean War, Halberstam goes to great lengths to provide the context for the events. For example, there's a long section on the background of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. It's practically an entire biography on Gen. MacArthur, exploring not only his life before the Korean War, but tidbits about his father as well to help you gain invaluable insight in to the events and factors that shaped MacArthur. It's a great read and highly worth while to those interested in military history or Korea in general, but admittedly you should plan to set aside ample time  to read through the exhaustive work.

The statue in today's image is called Defending the Fatherland. There are actually two statues surrounding the Korean War Monument, this one, for South Korea, and another for North Korea.

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