Itaewon and War Memorial of Korea

Landon says airplane “DANE!”

On Saturday, we decided to take the train over to Itaewon, which is the neighborhood next to the U.S. base in the middle of Seoul. The only advice we had heard was just to go there, so we emerged from the subway with few expectations of what we would see. It ended up being a more Americanized part of town with lots of restaurants and bars- things that would appeal to soldiers. There were all different kinds of restaurants which was nice to see! Austin got some kebap- a Turkish meat wrap where the meat is mystery meat that has been roasted on a spit, and I was set on finding Mexican food. If I was going to find it anywhere in Korea, I knew it would have to be here!

After wandering up and down the main street, we decided to circle around and go down some side streets. While some of the establishments we found were on the shady side, we also found a Mexican restaurant! Hooray! I had beef and shrimp tacos and they were delicious, especially with chips and salsa. Itaewon is right on a big hill so the streets were steep. We climbed up to the top where there was a mosque and lots of Halal and Indian restaurants and then went back down. The narrowness of the roads reminded me of some towns in Italy.

There was a definite shopping section of Itaewon along with an eating section. We breezed through the shopping section and made our way down the big hill next to the base to the War Memorial. We had driven by previously and I knew this was a place Landon would enjoy. Airplanes, tanks, a boat, rocket launchers, a helicopter- all things a little boy would love!

The “big boke”

This boat was very interesting because it is a replica of a boat that was in a battle with the North Koreans in 2002. It had all the bullet holes and everything, and showed where it was falling apart after the battle. All very interesting. Landon’s favorite place on the boat was in the captain’s chair, but he generally loved wandering around the “big boke”.

Where are we going again?

I just love that they have the same expression and BYU shirts on

 Most of the stuff they had on display was Korean, but they did have some U.S. military stuff and Russian for some reason. We got to sit inside of this people moving vehicle.

Missiles!

After having a nice time outside exploring all the airplanes, we went inside to view the memorial. It was sobering in the hallway up to the main building to see tablets with all the men who died fighting in the Korean war. On the way in, all the names were in Korean, so they were the Korean soldiers, and then on the way out we saw the tablets with all the Americans and other countries’ soldiers that died. It was a long, long list!

This big drum was in the lobby. Landon liked the tiger.

A turtle ship. The top is armored and the people sit underneath the armored part and row.
Landon liked the “big boke!”

There were several halls of exhibits that we visited that detailed the history of all the wars in Korea starting in 600 A.D. Probably the coolest thing in the olden days they had was this arrow launcher that could launch like 50 arrows at a time. Ouch! Again, Korean museums impressed us in that there were holographic exhibits, projections, small scale replicas of battle fields and even a fortress that Landon liked climbing around on. They go all out!

The whole building
There was also a section of the museum that dealt primarily with the Korean war. Getting a qualified history major’s perspective of what he learned about (which was probably still a little biased) the war, I think they told it pretty close to how it really was, except it seemed from the English translation at least that they blamed the U.S. for not training the Korean military well enough leading up to the war. I have not taken a world history class since 7th grade (all the classes I took after that were European history or music civilization which is arts biased) so I don’t remember ever really learning about the war. It was incredible how bold General MacArthur was in landing in Incheon when the rest of the army was being pushed off the peninsula SO far south. Incheon is where Austin works, and we are northwest Korea. So he went WAY behind enemy lines in an area that is super tidal to try to attack the North Koreans at the rear. There were lots of mistakes and blunders made after that which caused many lives lost and it didn’t turn out great for anyone involved, but that bold move saved South Korea from Communist rule and I find it impressive.
There were movies and fairly graphic shots of fighting in parts of the museum that I wish they would have warned about because I would rather not have Landon see them at this point in his life, but other than that, we had a fun exhausting day in Itaewon and the memorial!

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