Sightseeing was scheduled for this Sunday - as is often the case - Ethan and I travel to some new place to see some random Korean highlight. I was really pleased that Ethan and Jen both were happy to do as I wanted and go to the War Memorial, for a Korean lunch and to Yongsan to buy DVDs. The sun was shining, it was cold, but bright and fine. Lovely winters' day.
The War Memorial is maaasssive, just like the National Museum. And the grounds are full of aeroplanes, tanks, submarines and howitzers. Yeah, and a little wedding palace, in case you wanna recall the war while you take your vows.
There was a great deal of acknowledgement of the UN forces who had fought in the Korean War - I saw monuments, plaques, uniforms and movies of the Australian involvement. The question arose of why the 38th parallel was chose for the division and I immediate thought was just cos the Americans picked it... Well, as Wikipedia says ::
On August 10, 1945 two young officers – Dean Rusk and Charles Bonesteel – were assigned the task of creating an American occupation zone. Working on extremely short notice and completely unprepared for the task, they used a National geographic map to decide on the 38th parallel; they chose it because it divided the country approximately in half but would leave the capital Seoul under American control. No experts on Korea were consulted and the two men were unaware that forty years previous, Japan and Russia had discussed sharing Korea along the same parallel; Rusk later said that had he known, he would have chosen a different line.
Gawd. It's just so sad and ridiculous. Rusk actually said: '[The] choice of the 38th Parallel, recommended by two tired colonels working late at night, proved fateful.'
Though today, I don't know why, I didn't instinctively mourn those lives lost... Through all those memorials, I wasn't moved. When in Minsk I remember been profoundly upset at a memorial to the Belorusian mothers of those who fought with the Soviets in the 9-year war in Afghanistan. Those lives were lost so needlessly, and the concept of a mother's grief was emotionally compelling. Not sure why I didn't get that today... Maybe because the memorial, many parts of it, are focused on the technicalities of the wars: equipment; tactics; dates and numbers. The idea/s of the war are so much more complex, intractable, intriguing, frustrating... Sad.