UN Korean War Memorial

While in Busan we found our way to the UN Korean War Memorial. Nestled right inside the city is a huge, well manicured and somber cemetery dedicated to the men and women of the world who gave their lives during the Korean War. When walking into the cemetery you are welcomed by two armed and handsome Korean soldiers. When we entered they asked us what nationality we were and marked it down and then we wondered around the cemetery. The grounds were beautifully kept, even in winter.

The Cemetery covers over 35 acres and was established by the United Nations Command on January 18, 1951, when interments were begun. Remains were transferred from six other cemeteries located at Gaeseong, Incheon, Daejeon, Daegu, Miryang, and Masan. The dedication ceremony was held on April 5, 1951. The Korean government granted the land to the United Nations without charge, in perpetuity, as a permanent tribute to all those who gave up their lives in resisting aggression in Korea and in upholding the cause of peace and freedom from 1950-53.

There are 2300 men buried at the cemetery from 11 countries, not including the unknown soldiers. Most of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives were sent back to their own countries for their burial, including more than 30,000 Americans.

The Cemetery contains the bodies of 2,300 men from Australia (281), Canada (378), France (44), the Netherlands (117), New Zealand (34), Norway (1), South Korea (36), South Africa (11), Turkey (462), the United Kingdom (885), and the United States of America (36), as well as unknown allied soldiers (4) and non-belligerents (11). During 1951 to 1954, remains of about 11,000 men of the UN Forces were gathered here, and remains of soldiers from Belgium, Colombia, Ethiopia, Greece, India, the Philippines, and Thailand (as well as the majority of those from the U.S.A., France, and Norway) were repatriated to their home countries. Plaques bearing particulars of the deceased covers each grave.

There was also a wall, similar to the wall in DC with the soldiers names inscribed on the wall. It was there that the impact of how many men and women, and American’s lost their lives. There were three whole walls of the 4 walled structure dedicated to American names. It was heart wrenching to look at the ages and amounts of families who were effected.

My Uncle Lt. Col. Mel was stationed in Busan during the war, which was part of the reason why we went to visit some of the war sites. He came home from the war, but all the time, my Aunt Audrey was raising her twins back in the states with him abroad, worrying and still going about her daily routines. I can’t imagine things are much different these days with so many families being effected by the war and bases all over the world.
The website lifeinkorea.com has tons of information on the cemetery.

Main Gate
The Main Gate, designed by Kim Chungup, was dedicated on November 30, 1966, to honor the fallen UN Forces in the Korean War by the citizens of Busan. While the stable roof line symbolizes Heaven, the support columns in the shape of trees signify the life of earth growing towards Heaven. The sunlight shining through the ceiling down on the columns brilliantly animates the trees and brings them to life. It is famed for its unique and abstract design. The roof, columns, and attached guard-house never quite seem to meet.
Memorial Service Hall
The Memorial Service Hall was built as a tribute to the sacrifices rendered by the UN Forces in Korea and was inaugurated on August 21, 1964. Modern in its design, the Memorial Service Hall incorporates a novel feature of six hinged reinforced concrete beams that appear to be clamping the building to its foundation. The triangular outline represents eternity in the abstract and symbolically conveys various religious faiths represented within the Cemetery.

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