Hope for Peace at the UN Memorial Cemetery, Busan (Day 247)
Don't we all hope for peace? At the UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan today we were certainly reminded of this.
There seems to be a bit of a pattern. Full-on days followed by chillax days. So today was a chillax day with washing, writing, reading and watching amazing discussions regarding science and religion. We also changed the room around a bit – after asking permission from our lovely Host Im Soon. We’ve moved the bed 90 degrees and can now see the sea whilst sitting in bed. Luxury! We did finally get out and caught the train to the UN Memorial Cemetery. This was created for the fallen UN troops in the Korean War, often called The Forgotten War, and dedicated to the peace and freedom of the world. It is such a peaceful place with lines of trees trimmed in the Niwaki style, rose bushes and neat square hedges by each gravestone that depicts the regiment and the name, rank and age of the soldier killed. According to UN estimates, three million Koreans (including soldiers and civilians on both sides) were killed plus many from other countries. Such a waste of life. A synopsis of the Korean War: In 1910 Japan took control of Korea and after their defeat in WWII, Korea was divided by Russia and USA at a spot called the 38th parallel (due to it being 38 degrees north of the equator). Tensions between the north and south built until, on 25 June 25, 1950, the North Korean People’s Army invaded the South reaching the capital, Seoul. The USA and the UN joined forces, thinking it would be an easy victory, but were surprised by the power of the North Korean Army. In the September General MacArthur led an invasion, taking back Seoul. Meanwhile, the South Korean president ordered the massacre of over 100,000 people –known as the Summer of Terror. China joined the war in October winning several victories pushing the US and S. Korean armies back across the 38th parallel. Peace talks began in February 1951, but the war dragged on with more countries joining the UN. Finally on 27th July 1953, an armistice was signed (by USA and China) for a ceasefire, however, this was not a permanent peace treaty. So, here we are, 65 years later and technically the two countries are still at war. In June this year North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in met in that historical moment when they held hands crossing the DMZ and signing the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula. The document commits the two countries to a nuclear-free peninsula and talks were made to bring a formal end to the Korean War. Let’s hope this happens soon. Going to a War memorial reminds us of the futility of such events. Perhaps humans will evolve into a peaceful, loving, compassionate race. In fact are we not that already? It’s just that many have forgotten.
The Memorial was about to close, so we walked around to the UN Sculpture Park and Arboretum. As we entered we saw a couple of exercise machines (we often see these in many places around the country, even at bus stops!). Also, to our surprise, there were a couple of hula hoops. We had to have a go and I must say that I was impressed by us both. We could do it! We walked through the park, with many trees and flowers and came to the area with 34 sculptures, donated from the 21 nations involved in the Korean War. What a lovely idea. They all seem to be made from a similar rock bringing a unified feel to the place. In our photo, we have included statues from Colombia, India, Korea, Sweden and The Netherlands. Can you match the countries to the statues? Let’s hope that the world can be unified. As Nelson Mandela said "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." And I’d like to add that love is our natural way of being, when we dismiss our small-minded thinking there is love, peace and contentment. Rather than being taught to love we need to unlearn hate, fear and judgement.