Korean War Memorial in Seoul South Korea
The Korean War Memorial is open from 9am to 6pm though the door closes at 5pm. Closed every Monday (If a Monday is a holiday, then they are closed the day after the holiday is over).
I recommend getting there early and about 2 hours of free time to thoroughly enjoy the museum.
A Must Visit Museum in Seoul
I visited a lot of museums around the world. And none has ever touched my heart the way Seoul's Korean War National Museum has. One part museum and one part memorial, this massive 20,000 square meter structure houses 6 exhibition rooms filled with all facets of the history of warfare in Korea from the beginning of the country's creation to the war that has split the nation into two countries at war with just a fragile truce.
Opened in 1994 this massive museum houses all kinds of instruments of warfare used by the Koreans past and present. Just walking out on the grounds of the museum and you can find helicopters, tanks, and jets.
Visiting the War Memorial of Korea is a must in Seoul with time permitting. Admission is free and guided tours in English are available. So there is no excuse for visiting. Even though most of the exhibitions are filled with artifacts and displays of Korean history are in English, you will get the full experience with a knowledgeable guide.
Though it may seem as if Korean War Memorial was designed to satisfy the appetite of the military enthusiasts and tourists, it is in fact dedicated to teaching the next generation of South Koreans the hardships of their civil war and that the price of freedom is forever vigilance.
As of writing (September 20th, 2011) the outer grounds of the memorial was under renovations. But all of the exhibitions and a major portions of the outer grounds can still be enjoyed by visitors.
How to Get to Korean War Memorial Museum
The museum is located in Yongsan Dong, just on the edge of greater Seoul, not far at all from other popular tourist attractions in Seoul such as the majestic palaces, the hip neighborhoods of Insadong, the towering North Seoul Tower and the bazaar markets of Namyeong and Damdemeun.
The easiest way to get to the museum is by subway train. Use the brown colored subway line and stop at Samgakji Station. Look for Exit #11 because it is the closest station to the museum grounds which is only 5 minutes away. There are plenty of detailed maps inside the train station that can point you to the direction so it is not easy at all to get lost.
If you plan on taking a taxi instead make sure you have the name of the museum written down in Korean. Drivers should not have a problem at all finding the Korean War Memorial Museum since it is such a significant memorial.
The Seoul City Tour Bus makes a stop near the museum as well so there is plenty of transportation options.
If you decide you want to stay at a budget hotel in Yongsan Seoul near the museum I suggest Hotel Kaya, which is only a 15 minute walk. And if you are planning to visit the DMZ through USO tours, Hotel Kaya is only several minutes away from USO tour's office.
The Korean War Memorial Museum Exhibits
The museum exhibits are very well laid out and since there are only 6 exhibits on 3 floors the museum itself is still massive and requires at least a few hours to explore.
The lower level contains the earliest history of brutal warfare in Korea against the Chinese, Japanese and of course the in-fighting in the pasts. There are many detailed artifacts, most with English descriptions or interactive displays so that you can follow along get a basic understanding of what you are seeing.
But it does not take much to see the and understand the ingenuity and engineering Korea is capable of when comes to the art of warfare and defending their country from invaders.
The ground level is where visitors can learn about the most devastating war in Korea's history. Visitors can learn how the civil war started and ended in a fragile truce between the North and the South and now on guard against each other 24 hours. Perhaps the most touching exhibit I came across was a section displaying how the Koreans lived during wartime.
The second level is a floor dedicated to educating the military role of South Korea's role in Southeast Asia. And you can also learn how often the North Koreans have been infiltrating South Korea and wrecking havoc as well as the future of warfare and how well trained and armed the South Korean military is to defending the lives of civilians and their way of life.
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