In rememberance of courageous heroes
Renovated cemetery pays tribute to fallen soldiers of the Korean War
△ The United Nations Memorial Cemetery, the top area is the Main Grave Area, just under that is the Daunt Waterway and the Green Area. In the center of this area is the UN Forces Monument. (Source: Nam-gu Office)
In Korea, June is often referred to as memorial month because of the number of wars and military conflicts, such as the Korean War, historically occurred this month. On June 6, Memorial Day, one minute of silence is observed when the sound of sirens resonates across the country.
■ The Korean War
The war broke out on June 25, 1950. 22 United Nations members fought for Korea's freedom, 16 nations gave combat aid and six provided medical assistance. During the three years, over 40 thousand UN forces fell. In 1951, construction of the cemetery began. Then in 1953, the war ended with the Korean Armistice Agreement. Soon after, the United Nations Memorial Cemetery (UNMCK) was officially established.
Behind the main gate is Memorial Service Hall. The hall, built in 1964, pays homage to fallen service members. On either side of the hall, there are diverse geometric stained-glass windows. Inside, visitors can watch a 10-minute documentary. Available in five different languages, on the Korean War and the UN's role.
In the Symbolic Area, 24 flags fly every day, 22 of the participating members of the UN, a Korean flag and a UN flag. Although there are some graves in this area, most sites are in the Main Grave Area. In this area, flowers are beside each headstone and tended to regularly. Any UN Forces soldier who fought in the Korean war can choose to be buried here. In 2017, Johan Theodoor Aldewereld, a Dutch Korean War Veteran, passed, his will stated that he wanted to be laid to rest among his fellow soldiers.
There is a waterway below the Main Grave Area called the Daunt Waterway. Named after the youngest soldier, 17-year-old Australian national J. P. Daunt interred in the cemetery. The waterway is filled with lilies and fish, meant to represent life and invaluable sacrifice.
On the other side of the waterway is the Green Area. There you will find the Wall of Remembrance, completed in 2006 and commissioned by the Korean government to show appreciation towards the soldiers who sacrificed their lives. The wall is engraved with the names of the fallen 40,896 service members from 17 countries. The 2,311 soldiers laid to rest at the UNMCK have a symbol next to their name. In the center of the Green Area is the UN Forces Monument. The monument stands 17.7 meters wide and 9.5 meters tall. Centered on the front of the monument, between two peaceful doves, is a thank you to the soldiers who gave their lives. Behind the monument is the Unknown Soldier's Pathway. Along both sides of the walkway, there are 11 steps of flowing water and 11 fountains, each adding up to 22, the number of UN nations who participated in the Korean war. The running water set against the silence calls attention to the 105 of 2,311 unnamed soldiers.
Though not fighting for their home, these soldiers gave their lives for a free and independent Korea. So, if you have some time, stop by UN Memorial Cemetery to pay your respects to the veterans who gave their lives for the country.
◎ Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and till 6 p.m. from May to Sept.
◎ Address: 93, UN Pyeonghwa-ro, Nam-gu
◎ Website: unmck.or.kr
◎ How to get there: Daeyeon Station (metro line 2), exit 3. Turn right at the intersection and walk for about 15 minutes.
△ The Busan Mayor paid his respects at the UN Memorial Cemetery.
△ The UN Forces Monument is visible from the Main Grave Area.
△ Stuart Campbell Mayer, Deputy Commander of UN Forces in Korea. (Source: Kookje Newspaper)