Korean War Museum serves as reminder of 'forgotten war'

South Korea is celebrating with the 2018 Olympics but many don't realize that South Korea and North Korea are two countries still technically at war.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - At the Korean War Museum in Seoul, Chung Kwon Park leads mostly American tourists through the history of the Korea War.

"War broke out in June 1950," Park describes. It's a history he says many Americans and even younger South Koreans have forgotten.

"Most the Americans I have met, have a very small idea of the Korean War, most of the post-war generation here thought 'that happened, that's it,' you could say the Korean War had been the forgotten war," Park explained.

He talks about the start of the war, how after World War Two Korea was a battle ground with South Koreans, Americans and the United Nations fighting North Koreans and Chinese backed by the Soviet Union.

Early in the fighting after a surprise attack, South Korean and American forces barely clung to a small pocket of the Korean Peninsula with Seoul and all of Korea overrun by the North.

Three years of fighting would follow and Doctor Owen Wilson, a professor of conflict analyst and conflict resolution at George Mason University, says that brought Korea to its knees.

"I've been coming here for over three decades since the early 80's I was a young Marine at the time the country was very poor," said Dr. Wilson.

Nearly 40,000 Americans died and nearly five million South Korean and North Koreans died, with half of those being civilians. It was a war that destroyed nearly every building and nearly every road.

"It was certainly a sad point in Korean history itself," Dr. Wilson described.

A ceasefire ended the fighting but it split Korea in two and today the North and South are still technically at war with tensions as high as ever.

"With the ongoing problems we have with North Korea there's always the possibility of war," said Dr. Wilson.

It's why Park, who's not just a tour guide but once served in the military as a Colonel, is so passionate about his country’s history, "'because the war is not over," said Park.

Working to keep reminding people of all that was lost in his country, "fallen hero's sacrificed themselves, it was brutality and we have prevent that from happening again," said Park.

© 2017 TEGNA MEDIA


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