|Eyes glued to the Korea vs. Japan Judo match....|
In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea and briefly occupied the majority of the country. The UN permitted an intervention, for the which the US provided the vast majority of foreign troops. The UN forces helped quickly push back the North Koreans behind the 38th parallel, and most thought it would be a swift victory...until the Chinese intervened on behalf of the North Koreans. The bloodiest months of the war were spent fighting over mere kilometers surrounding the border that still exists today, the demilitarized zone, or DMZ. (*Note: this is a brief, bare bones summary of what happened...most of which I learned at the museum).
Most reasons for the lack of attention given to the Korean War tare obvious: it came after the largest war in history, it never generated as much controversy as the Vietnam War, and unless you've been following the Samsung v. Apple lawsuit, South Korea isn't a country we normally think about when it comes to international issues (North Korea on the other hand...). It's easy to forget that the Korean War technically isn't over. In 1953 North and South Korea signed an armistice or ceasefire, not a peace treaty, which is why there are still fears about attacks from North Korea. Though I don't think it's at all likely, it does explain all of the emergency gear in the subways, which I naively pointed out in a previous post as weird, zombie- apocalypse precautions:
The oddest thing about the museum was the mock firing range. I usually think of war museums as places that promote a "never again" message. But considering that tensions still exist and military service is compulsory, I guess it doesn't seem so out of place. The "guns" even had kick back:
In the museum they also have some ideas about what future soldiers will look like:
And due to what seems to be a lack of primary images, etc, there are also a lot of natural-history-museum style dioramas depicting certain events. I don't have any photos, but there was even an entire room modelled after a war time South Korean village- i.e. lots of shacks.
|This is a model of an infamous incident where North Korean troops massacred South Korean soldiers trying to cut down a tree that was blocking their line of sight.|
To me this demonstrates not only how students feel about the state of the country, but also indicates something about how important it is for them to confront their identity as South Korea continues to open up to global culture. As I've said before, one of the most interesting things about being here is that in terms of modernization, South Korea is still a young country, navigating the cultural and social woes of entering an increasingly interconnected world, where Eastern and Western cultural lines are becoming more and more blurred.
To end on a lighter note, the haze finally cleared up enough for me to get some good pictures of the mountains I see on the bus ride coming from Seoul to Yeoju. Even along the highway the Korean landscape is beautiful.
In cute news, I recently discovered that these guys live across the street from my apartment complex. Korea is a tiny country so you have to squeeze in farms and animals where ever you can.
|The big guy at the front was quacking at me as I drove by on my bike.|