The War Memorial of Korea
The War Memorial of Korea (WMOK) collects and preserves materials on war, such as the history of struggling against foreign forces to overcome aggressions and protect people’s lives and properties, and of overcoming national crises to defend the independence of the nation, thereby preventing war through lessons learned from war and contributing to the peaceful unification of the country.
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.
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.
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 photos and contents are excerpted from the WMOK homepage https://www.warmemo.or.kr/Eng/index.)
Gyeongbokgung Palace, or the Palace of Felicitous Blessing, was the main Palace of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). It opened in 1395, the fourth year of the reign of Taejo, the founding monarch of Joseon. The Palace attained all necessary facilities and systems commensurate with its status as Joseon’s primary Palace during the reign of Sejong (r. 1418-1450). It was burnt down in 1592 during the Japanese invasions and remained in ruins until extensive reconstruction was undertaken in 1868, the fifth year of Gojong. However, many of the structures were removed during the Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945).
It was in 1395, three years after the Joseon Dynasty was founded by King Taejo (Yi Seong-gye), when the construction of the main royal Palace was completed after the capital of the newly founded dynasty moved from Gaeseong to Seoul (then known as Hanyang). The Palace was named Gyeongbokgung Palace, the “Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven.” With Mount Bugaksan to its rear and Mount Namsan in the foreground, the site of Gyeongbokgung Palace was at the heart of Seoul and, indeed, deemed auspicious according to the traditional practice of geomancy. In front of Gwanghwamun Gate, the main entrance to the Palace, ran Yukjo-geori (Street of Six Ministries, today’s Sejongno), home to major government offices.
Along the central axis upon which Gwanghwamun Gate stood was the nucleus of the Palace, including the throne hall, council hall and king’s residence. The government ministry district and main buildings of Gyeongbokgung Palace formed the heart of the capital city of Seoul and represented the sovereignty of the Joseon Dynasty. After all the Palaces in the capital were razed by the Japanese during the Hideyoshi invasions of 1592-’98, Changdeokgung Palace, a secondary Palace, was rebuilt and served as the main Palace.
Gyeongbokgung Palace was left derelict for the next 273 years. It was finally reconstructed in 1867 by the order of the Prince Regent. Some 500 buildings were built on a site of over 40 hectares and constituted a small city. The architectural principles of ancient China were harmoniously incorporated into both the tradition and the appearance of the Joseon royal court. Gyeongbokgung Palace was largely torn down during the Japanese occupation. Ninety three percent of the restored buildings were dismantled, Gwanghwamun Gate was dismantled and relocated to the east, and an enormous building housing the Japanese Government-General was constructed in front of the main sector of the Palace. An effort to fully restore Gyeongbokgung Palace to its former glory has been ongoing since 1990. The Japanese Government-General building was finally removed, and Heungnyemun Gate was restored to its original state. The royal living quarters and the East Palace for the crown prince were also restored to their original state.
(*The photos and contents are excerpted from the homepage http://www.royalpalace.go.kr:8080/html/eng_gbg/main/main.jsp.)
Even in the midst of rapid changes in the world, there are streets that try to preserve and pass on the unique beauty of Korea. You can see a lot of Korean art, and there are many things that come to mind when you think of ‘Korea’ on the streets of Insadong, from traditional tea to temple food. It is one of the most visited places by tourists in Korea, but it contains not only the beauty of Korea, but also the stories of people in the past who had no choice but to adapt to the changing times.