Busan Museum and U.N. Cemetery

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by michaelhudson on July 14, 2004

Busan Museum provides a good introduction to the city’s history, particularly events before and after the Korean War. The ground floor has colourful and engaging displays on the Prehistoric and Bronze Ages, before sweeping through the Gaya, Goryeo and Joseon periods. While the video displays are in Korean only the text accompanying the artefacts has been translated into pretty decent English.

From the ramp up to the second exhibition building the context broadens to include historical relations with Japan then, fittingly, Joseon Dynasty weaponry, before culminating in a display on the city’s folklore traditions. From there you’re into modern Busan, a small fishing village before its port was opened in 1876; Japanese settlements and draconian educational edicts segue into the Independence Movement and the growing influence of Western culture, including mock-ups of a photographer’s shop and a barbers, plus a decree that all men should keep their facial hair in tidy order.

Contemporary Busan starts with photos of refugees flooding into the city during the Korean War and ends with a winding ramp down to a gift shop and special exhibitions hall. From the exit it’s a short walk through the grounds to the U.N. Cemetery (open daily from 9am – 4:30pm).

A sign at the main gate shows the arrangement of the cemetery. There are 2,300 dead buried here from twelve nations. A Memorial Service Hall and an adjacent Memorabilia Centre stand by the entrance, its prize exhibits the first U.N. flag to fly in Korea and the original letter of Armistice sent to the U.N. Secretary General.

Paths intersect the neatly tended rows of small headstones, continuing down to a large sculpture and monument listing the war dead and troops supplied by each country. The majority of the graves are from Britain and the Commonwealth along with almost five hundred Turkish troops and over a hundred Dutch. So far from home, I counted over fifty names from regiments raised in my part of England. As I left I wondered how many people back home even knew they were here.

Danyeon is the nearest underground station to the museum. Take exit three, do a 180-degree turn, and take the first left.

Busan Museum and U.N. Cemetery
Busan, South Korea


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