Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Today I actually got my butt out of bed in a timely fashion and headed into Seoul to check out the National War Museum and monuments. Perhaps reading Sartre (Nausea, sadly I could only get a hold of a copy in English) on the way there was not the best move. It put me in a rather melancholy mood before I even got there. I have a thing about violence. My senior year I spent a good deal of time researching collective violence and genocide. It was traumatizing, I had nightmares galore and it got to the point where I wouldn't work on my research without someone else in my room. I felt like I couldn't talk about it because the atrocities were so awful that I didn't want to inflict the horror I felt on anyone else. The point is, when it comes to violence, I'm a masochist. It sickens me to no end, I have trouble comprehending it and yet I find it endlessly fascinating.

The first floor of the museum had a really awesome replica of a turtle ship, one of the first armored battle ships in history but the rest of the artifacts were forgettable compared to the collection at the national museum. Not to mention that the English in this section of the museum was also pretty awful on the signs. What really got to me was the second floor which was devoted to the Korean war. In the very beginning, before the US or the United Nations stepped in with troops and aid, South Korea was completely out numbered. Cadets were sent to the front lines before ever being made officers. A volunteer student corps was founded...and 100,000 students joined the war effort. Individuals and small groups helped via guerrilla warfare tactics. People were just slaughtered. Looking at the complete and utter devastation that took place in the country and it is no wonder that more old temples and relics don't exist. Everything was razed to the ground.

When I took history classes, everything past WWII was gone over so quickly. I'm sure we learned about the Korean War but I couldn't remember very much. It was fascinating to read about, especially the UN documents about decisions to get involved on the peninsula.It's a pretty impressive building. I pulled this photo off of a google image search. Imagine it like this but covered with a few inches of snow.


Rachel S said...

I enjoyed your blog entry even though it is a depressing subject. You talked frankly about your feelings, and I appreciate that. The museum architecture is also very interesting to me.

Alex said...

Thanks Aunt Rachel!