Busan is well-known for its important role in the Korean War. Those interested in the history of the “Forgotten War” will be interested in paying a visit to the UN Memorial.
Busan’s Incredible Metro
Busan is actually quite easy to get to from Changwon once you figure it out. You just have to get a bus from one of the stations for only about 4000 won. Then it only takes about half an hour to arrive at the Busan West (Seobu) bus terminal. Then to get to the UN Memorial, you have to wrap your head around Busan’s metro system which can seem perplexing at first.
All you have to do is head into Sasang station and go through the barrier for the train bound for Jangsan. This is my second visit to Busan and when I walked into the metro station, I was still quite confused. However, there is a digital information screen which can show the directions of the metro in English. In order to get to the UN memorial, you need to get off at Daeyeon.
The Busan Museum
Right next to the UN Memorial is the Busan Museum which I recommend paying a visit to. It’s quite a small museum and you can enter free of charge. It’s not too big, so you can see everything you need to in about half an hour. Inside the museum, you can understand Busan’s history as a port city.
Moreover, the museum tells the stories of what Busan went through over the last century. What I found intriguing was the Korean struggle for independence from the Japanese.
The UN Veterans Memorial
Just outside of the Busan Museum is a memorial with statues of the veterans who fought on the UN side during the Korean war. Without giving too much of a history lesson, the newly-formed United Nations fought against North Korea in support of the Republic of Korea. The UN forces comprised an interesting mix of nations you can see with the flags around the memorial.
The UN Memorial Cemetery
The cemetery itself is easy to find and is of course free to enter. One must remember that this place is a cemetery and not a tourist attraction. I fully encourage that visitors should show respect to those who had lost their lives in the war. There is also a sign that says you should do so at the entrance. I think that much like WWII, it’s important for people to know the history of the Korean War.
If you know nothing about the Korean War, then I encourage you to do a bit of reading before you visit. This place doesn’t have any exhibits to explain the history and the causes of the war. The cemetery also has two memorabilia halls which are worth taking a look at. These places have plaques and photographs from the different armies who fought in Korea.
Walking around the cemetery itself is quite bleak and the memorials these soldiers are given are very respectful. Each country has its own area of graves and memorials to commemorate the sacrifices made by the soldiers of their respective armies.
A Solemn Memorial
One that really stands out is the Colombian one, this is because a substantial number of Colombians fought in the Korean War. Even though these countries are far from each other. On the memorial is the quote “No place is far away for a Colombian to die for freedom” which reflects the solemnity of this memorial.
The British had the second biggest number of casualties in the cemetery. When I saw the British part of the cemetery really hit home as one of the regiments was Scottish. Seeing the graves, you can read that these soldiers died at very young ages. I saw that lot of them died younger than 25 and that is the horrific reality of war.
Behind the cemetery, there is also the Wall of Remembrance. Which has all the names of the soldiers who lost their lives. It really gives an understanding the extent of how many died, especially from the US.
Busan Peace Park
Just outside of the cemetery is this park which also has a memorial to the UN forces in the Korean War. Unlike the cemetery, this place is a park, so I saw families having fun and people walking their dogs. There’s also a statue dedicated to an American general who decided to stay in Korea so he could help the victims who had been drastically affected by the war.
The UN Sculpture Park
Just before I headed back to the metro stop, I made sure to take a look at the UN Sculpture Park. Each country from the UN side has its own sculpture which commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war. In my opinion, these sculptures are very surreal, but show the bleakness of war.