The War Memorial of Korea and Gyeongbokgung Palace

The War Memorial of Korea offers visitors an educational, yet emotional experience of the many wars in which Korea was involved.  Displayed are various weapons and equipment from prehistoric times to the modern period as well as paintings of battlefields and sculptures of notable warriors.

For over five centuries, Kyongbok Palace was the center of the Choson Kingdom and the defining symbol of Korean royalty.  The massive 340,000 square-meter palace complex was built in 1395, the fourth year of the reign of King Taejo, becoming the largest and most important of the kingdom’s five grand palaces.  However, the palace’s history is a troubled one.  Left in ruins following the Japanese invasion in 1592, Kyongbok Palace was not rebuilt until 1865, under the reign of Prince Regent Taewonkun.  Less than 40 years later, though, part of the complex was again demolished as Japan took control of the Korean Peninsula and built its colonial government on the site.

One of the entrance alcoves

Along the front of the building are panels listing everyone who died in Korea’s wars

Coincidentally, the day we were there was the 2nd anniversary of the
shelling of Yeongpyong island.  They were having a memorial service
for the two South Koreans killed in the attack.

I’m assuming these are for the two honorees...

The museum entrance.  I’m sure the “face” look is intentional!

Flags representing the different branches of the ROK military (plus a couple others)

Some old cannons and ammunition

The Hwacha, an ancient Korean version of a rocket launcher.
Mythbusters tested something like this in one of their episodes.

A Geobukseon, or turtle-boat.  It was used against the Japanese in the 1590s.

Some old battle flags

A 5-barrel gun
Some Korean shields, and a suit of armor (but you probably guessed that...)
Some artifacts from Chinese soldiers from the Korean War

Some ROK battle flags from the Korean War

Even the Koreans know about the Wrights!

A North Korean T-34

I love the face painted on this amphibious vehicle!  I guess it’s
supposed to make the enemy think it’s being attacked by
some fearsome beast...

A MiG-19

An F-86 Super Sabre
It’s weird seeing these classic American aircraft in ROK markings!

An F-5

A T-59 tank

An M-107 175mm self-propelled howitzer.  This picture does not do
the sheer size of the gun justice--it’s twice as long as the chassis!

The Monument of Great King Gwanggaeto

The Korean War Monument

The Statue of Brothers, representing a ROK officer meeting his younger brother--a North Korean soldier--on the battlefield “and express reconciliation, love, and forgiveness.”

A mural in Insadong, one of the shopping areas in Seoul

One of the side entry gates into the courtyard of Gyeongbokgung Palace

The other side entry gate

Much of the following description comes from the official site of Gyeongbokgung Palace,

Gwanghwamun Gate, the main entrance to the palace
Several times each day (except Tuesday), there is a changing of the guard ceremony.  The new guards, accompanied by musicians, march around the courtyard, through the Gwanghwamun Gate, and around to replace the current guards.  To see what each guard’s uniform represents, click here.

The Heungnyemun Gate from outside the Gwanghwamun Gate

A closer look at Heungnyemun

The corridors extending out from Heungnyemun form an enclosure.  In the enclosure, in addition to regular audiences granted by the king, other governmental activities took place, such as the interrogation of serious criminal offenders and the promulgation of royal edicts.

On the roof are characters from the Chinese story “Journey to the West,”
which are supposed to keep out evil spirits.

The Geunjeongjeon (Throne Hall) seen through the Heungnyemun Gate

Geunjeongjeon, where the king granted audiences to his officials, presided over large official functions and met foreign envoys.  Geunjeongjeon is the largest and most formal hall in Gyeongbokgung.  The two-tier edifice stands on a high platform reached by stone steps.  The characters over the entrance mean "diligence helps governance."

The governmental officials lined up at these posts in descending order
of rank, civilian on the east (right) and military on the west...
because east was considered “higher” and therefore the more
important officials (hmph!) stood on that side.

The royal throne.  Behind the throne is a wall screen painted
with the sun, moon and a five-peak mountain; the sun, in the east,
represented the King; the moon represented the Queen.  This screen
(or one like it) was always behind the King wherever he went
(and can even be seen in the background on the 10000-won bill!).

One of the statues on the banisters

The Gyeonghoeru, a pavilion located on a pond to the west of the
living quarters, built as a venue for feasts for foreign envoys and
for the king and his court officials.

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Last updated 9 December 2012