Korean War Memorial Museum – Part II

The Korean War Memorial Museum was such a great museum that I had to take one more opportunity to post more details on what I found here. The significance of the flags flying outside the museum demonstrate those allies who supported the Republic of Korea (South Korea) during the war.

Most significant is the placement of the U.S. flag right next to the flag, a significant reminder of the role of U.S. troops who fought, bled and died for the freedoms that South Koreans continue to experience in their democracy today. It’s a powerful message of the numerous nations that have pledged varying levels of support, both militarily and financially, to support the government of South Korea over the last 50+ years. Yet all of this support is minor in comparison to what the American peoples and the U.S. Government have given to South Koreans since that time.

The thousands of American troops who lost their lives here will never be forgotten. This museum is a memorial and a testament to the ultimate sacrifice that thousands of troops have made, with their lives, to help maintain freedom and democracy in South Korea, and ultimately, in our own country as well.

Thank you, to all of the American troops who gave their lives, livelihoods and the families who made the ultimate sacrifice to help protect democracy here and around the world.

You have reminded us once again that freedom is never free. Thank you. We owe you our deepest gratitude, respect and admiration. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.

 

Experiencing the Korean War Memorial Museum

I will let most of the pictures speak for themselves, but I want to point out the sheer power of this museum. To see the names of all of the thousands of Americans lost to this war is such a gripping and powerful reminder of our significant role in helping South Korea maintain their independence from North Korea and their democratic government.

The statue that struck me most here was the “Two brothers” statue outside the museum. This shows two Korean brothers embracing, reminding people of the struggle during this war between brothers. While one may live in North Korea and the other in South Korea, it is a reminder that one happened to be located above the 38th parallel and the other below it.  Two brothers were torn apart by the 38th parallel and permanently separated by a war among family.

Lastly, I was encouraged to see (and hear) the gratitude that the Korean people have for Americans who gave of their lives and livelihoods to help them fight communism and help maintain their democracy within the Republic of Korea. War is never pleasant. There are always repercussions to war, but it was encouraging to see that the Korean people seemed to appreciate (for the most part) the sacrifices we have made as Americans to help their country succeed. Given the struggles of war in both Afghanistan and Iraq, it was heartening to know that the efforts Americans have made in Korea over the past 50+ years are not ones in vain.

Visiting Korea University

It is always an experience to see what universities and college campuses look like in other countries. Last year, I visited the University of Johannesburg and took part in an economics lecture and freshman econ lab that I ended up using back in my classroom at Kennedy High School. This time was no different.

The campus is immensely clean, collegial and has a warm and welcoming feel for students and visitors alike. Our university tour guides showed us the campus square where numerous demonstrations were held that spawned a movement across Korea for democratic reforms in government and brought an end to the Park administration’s rule. A very powerful message, akin to our demonstrations at Kent State or other American Universities during the Vietnam War era movement.

Students here are driven! And I mean driven! They study hard to get here and even harder once they get here. Many times, the competition for entry to Korea University is so intense that parents hire tutors, students study seven days a week, many times around the clock (you’ll hear more about this in my Daeil School post soon!), and use study groups (listen up, AP students!) to help them succeed in their classes. These students are highly intelligent, driven, and are preparing to compete in the global marketplace. And they will be ready!

 

Seoul, here we come!

After traveling 13.5 hours over the North Pole and the Arctic Ocean, losing an entire day as we crossed the International Date Line, and arriving completely jetlagged from the day/time differences, we touched down at Incheon International Airport just outside Seoul, Republic of Korea at around 3:35 am on Wednesday, July 6.

The dark runway didn’t deter us from looking out the windows to see what awaited us in Korea. It was an exciting time as we walked toward the baggage claim, went through customs enforcement, and finally passed through the claims area where we needed to make claims for any vegetative resources, etc. being brought into the country.

The Korea Society staff were right outside the gates holding signs welcoming us to Seoul, Korea and guiding us to the bus where we would be taken to our hotel in downtown Seoul. We met Hannah and Vivian, who were so friendly and helpful in making our first Korean connections to the program now that we were on the ground in the Asian continent.

So off to the hotel we went, traveling through the early morning hours to arrive at the Lotte Hotel Mapo, where they checked our luggage and we headed off to a breakfast buffet. Not that many of us were hungry, probably more tired than hungry, but it was great to be off of the plane and be able to walk around the restaurant and sample so many of the different foods (something we would get VERY used to doing in the days ahead).

After checking in and a short nap to try and catch up on the time change, we were off to the subway station to buy farecards and learn how to use the system. Having used DC’s Metro subway system for many years, this system is very similar. If anything, the system here is even easier, with card machines and add-fare-value stations all over each station.

The subway system really is the best way to get around. Traffic is very congested here in Seoul, much as it is in most metropolitan cities, so the subway is a very fast and efficient way to move around quickly.

 

Mr. Rodman Travels to Seoul, Korea

Please note: After many technical difficulties with technology here, I’m hoping the worst is behind us. But posting may be intermittent, due to the rolling internet capabilities we seem to be experiencing day-to-day here in Seoul.

Mr. Rodman of John F. Kennedy High School was chosen as one of 35 American teachers to travel this summer (2011) to Seoul, Republic of Korea to teach here and to learn more about the culture, customs, history and people of the Republic of Korea (more widely known as South Korea).

Throughout the month of July, Mr. Rodman will spend time teaching students in Seoul, travel with fellow teachers to other parts of South Korea, and spend time talking with the Korean people about their lives, their ambitions, their interests and their culture.

From Mr. Rodman: It’s an ambitious agenda and I hope to blog about as much of it as I possibly can, including pictures and video when possible. I hope you find this helpful in learning more about Korea and its wonderful people.