Wednesday, September 2, 2009

War Memorial Of Korea & Itaewon

Today (Wednesday) we took the subway again...this time to the War Memorial of Korea. This memorial is not just about the Korean war (although there is a large section dedicated to it), but a look at the many wars in which Korea has been involved over its 5000 year history. Whoa. No wonder Koreans have intense national pride. They have had to fight against numerous (!!) invasions and deal with other conflicts (to put it mildly).

Out front of the memorial (that is the main building in the distance) are some amazing sculptures depicting Korean soldiers helping Korean citizens during times of war.

This was inside the memorial. It is a scaled-down replica of something called a Turtle Ship (for war) a long, long time ago. Smoke came out of the dragon's mouth, cannons out the sides, and there are many long, sharp spikes sticking up from the ship's deck (the turtle's shell) onto which invading soldiers would jump piercing their feet. OUCH!! Apparently the Japanese were very good at hand-to-hand combat, and this was one way Korean battle ships would catch them off guard during times of war.

Out on the grounds of the War Memorial are lots of military tanks, planes, and helicopters used during various wars. I think all guys must like this section...and want their photo taken next to several of these military modes of transportation.

This sculpture represents a sword embedded with the tree of life. It acknowledges that with war comes death...but also the wish/hope for new life.

Out on the grounds we spotted a couple of groups of preschool-aged children. They were checking out the tanks, planes, and ships. After running around a bit, they sat down to have their lunches. Each child was wearing a yellow t-shirt and had an orange backpack (see them lined up on the benches). The children were soooooo cute, of course! I saw some of them eating sushi (or something like it) for, nice! We wanted to go sit with them to see if we could also score some nice lunch food from those cute orange backpacks.
After the War Memorial we hopped back onto the subway to check out Itaewon. This is a popular area with both tourists and locals. It has lots (about 2000!?) shops along with many ethnic restaurants and also night clubs. Some people refer to this as the American or Western area in Seoul. Many of the stores & restaurants are ones you'd recognize from home (Nike, Adidas, North Face, Columbia, The Body Shop, McDonald's, Baskin Robbins, Dunkin' Donuts, Outback Steakhouse -- which is insanely popular here, etc...). There are also some stores that sell local goods and touristy things. We walked around a bit, but didn't really buy anything. I'm sure some people love this area, but I enjoyed the more traditional Korean market areas much more. I'm just not THAT much of a shopper. We did see more tourists here than anywhere else in Seoul. We also saw several US soliders walking around this area in uniform.
So...that was our day today. Tonight we're taking the subway to see a baseball game. Baseball is wildly popular here in Korea. Two of Seoul's teams (the Doosan Bears & the LG Twins) play at the same stadium. From the website...we think the home team tonight is the Bears...but much of the website is in Korean, so we're not 100% sure on that. We've done our attempts at interpretation/translation, so we'll see if we're right. We know at least one of the two teams is playing this evening, so there will be a game for us. We had kind of hoped it was the Twins (how appropriate), but we don't think it is. We'll see. Stay tuned...


Christine said...

The War Memorial looks so cool! That's definitely on the list for our next visit.

Don't you love seeing the groups of little kids?! We saw similar sights at Olympic Park and it was precious. Especially when a whole group came running up to me saying "Hello!" Gaugh. I want to go back!

Krista said...

I was really disappointed not to get to the War Memorial. Next time. Looks very interesting.
We ate at the Outback Steakhouse in Itaewan - a warning to anyone that is thinking of trying it - it will be the most expensive meal of your trip! Seriously! And sadly it wasn't that tastey.
I can't wait to see your next pics - your forever family day is coming soon!

CatherineD said...

Still taking notes... Your trip looks amazing! The best is yet to come! :)

JoJo said...

Hustle Doo! Go Bears!
Have fun at the game, we had a blast. We loved the War Memorial.

kelly said...

We did not make it to the war memorial or Itaewon so it's interesting to read your thoughts on these places. Next time!

From Joanna's description of the baseball game they went to, it sounds like it'll be really fun! Enjoy!

I remember running into a gaggle of adorable little kids at the Coex Mall when I was there. They were all dressed in shorts and a t-shirt that were the burberry plaid - I swear! And they were sooooo darn cute.

You've been in Seoul for so long now and experienced so much, I bet you *almost* feel like a local!!!

Ali said...

Enjoy the baseball game! What a great idea for something to do while there.