National Museum Of Korean Contemporary History

Special Exhibition

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Remove the Rusty Fences
Special Exhibition Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Korean War

Remove the Rusty Fences

National Museum of Korean Contemporary History 3rd Floor Exhibition Hall

Dec. 31th, 2020(Sun)

  • Price : Free
  • Hours :10:00 – 18:00
    Opening hours will be extended to nine o’clock in the evening on Wednesdays. (Last admission is one hour before the closing time.)
  • For additional inquiries call : +82-02-3703-9200

Opening Special Exhibition


It’s been 70 years since the Korean War began. There are many events that make up this long, brutal conflict that might spring to mind when you think about it: it's start in the early hours of June 25, 1950, the Incheon Landing, the entry of Chinese forces, or perhaps the long armistice negotiations that took place amidst fierce fighting at the front. This was also a war marred by massacres and much suffering for many civilians. They may not have experienced the horrors of the frontline, but whether you were a civilian or a soldier, these three years of war and the wreckage it left behind produced much suffering that was borne by so many.

In this special exhibit, the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History presents some of the stories from this time. In particular, this exhibit spotlights stories from normal people living during that time, their many stories that make up events that happened over six decades ago now. The stories of tears at having to leave behind homes to avoid war, stories of losing family, friends and neighbors, stories of daily survival during war, and stories of life after war coping with loss.

Remembering is often said to be the first step in curing the wounds of the heart. This special exhibit remembers the wounds of our grandfathers and grandmothers, and hopes to help in some way, however small, to ease their pain. It also seeks to show what the war was like to generations who did not experience it. The stories it seeks to tell are not just those of the people who had guns, but also those behind the front lines trying to survive. We hope that the exhibit serves as a reminder of just how valuable and precious peace is.
The widening 38th parallel
A line that wasn’t known for anything in particular suddenly became the center of a division that turned to war. The 38th parallel, a line on a map that became a place where you had to show ID just to cross, gradually became a line of no return, a hard border. As the meaning of this line changed, so did people’s lives. People were forced to chose between North and South, capitalism and socialism. Those who refused the choice they were given were forced to take flight across the 38th parallel.
June 1950, war and scattered families
The Korean War did not come entirely as a surprise. People on the 38th parallel had witnessed continued skirmishes, and thus expected what they saw to end quickly, but this war would go on for three long years. The South Korean army routed, and the North Korean army on the march, people heard what was happening and rumors of coming strikes, and began to flee. Those who didn’t would later often be branded collaborators, and suffered under such suspicions after where they were liberated by UN forces. As the war that people thought would soon end dragged inexorably on, families were scattered, waiting desperately without news for the day when they would be reunited.
War Hits the Village
Villages to the East at the end of wide fields that were spoken of in old stories, even here people could not escape the war. As war enveloped these villages, these places that had appeared so peaceful and tranquil were transformed into sites of massacres and revenge killings. Landlords and tenant farmers, nobles and commoners, the feuds between the upper and lower villages became fuel for violence. UN forces would liberate them, and they would no longer be on the front lines, but partisans in the mountains would continue to wage a guerilla war, with cycles massacres and revenge killings continuing. Even the armistice signed on July 27, 1953 would not bring an end to it.
Survival in spite of it all
The war devastated the country, but land still had to be tilled and shelter built. People displaced went back to their homes or found new places to create lives for themselves. Even amidst the suffering of war, people still ate, slept, studied, and went about their lives. There were even elections during the war. And once news came of the armistice being signed, many who had fled their homes were able to return. But there were also a vast number who could not.
People left behind
For the people left behind who couldn’t go back to their homes, the war didn’t end with the armistice. For those injured, for the women who had lost their husbands, for those orphaned by war, for those who had seen family members kidnapped by the North Korean army, and for those families separated by the division of the country into North and South, the war never left them. They have had to endure 70 years, to survive, feed their families, and to wait to see the people they were separated from again. This is the 70th year of their war.
Primary exhibition materials
전시이미지1
1. 국민증 Identification Documents (for citizens) 대한민국역사박물관 1949 2. 북한 공민증 North Korean ID Card 시간여행 1948 3. 월남할때 갖고 온 상자A box for luggage brought by refugees from the North 대한민국역사박물관 1948년 이전 4. 자유일기 1950년 Freestyle Diary 1950 대한민국역사박물관 1950 5. 한국군 군복 Korean Army Military uniform 대한민국역사박물관 1950년대 6.북한 인민군 군복 Korean People's Army (North Korea's army) Uniform 대한민국역사박물관 1950년대
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7. 경기도 도민증 Provincial Residency Certificate, Gyeonggi Province 대한민국역사박물관 1951 8. 6·25스케치 1950년 9월 다락방에서의 은신 Hiding in an attic, September 1950 국립현대미술관 1950 9. 6·25 동원 대상자 등록 증명서 Proof of registration for war mobilization 대한민국역사박물관 1953 10. 장기홍 피난일기 Searching for refuge in the Korean War 대한민국역사박물관 광복이후 11. 6•25 피난기 A story of Korean War Refugee 대한민국역사박물관 1951
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12. 대한청년단 서천군 단원증 Korean Youth Corps membership certificate, Seocheon County 대한민국역사박물관 1951 13. 계엄지구 주민들에게 고함 Announcement to residents in the martial law district 대한민국역사박물관 1954 14. 지리산특보 제3호-동무들의 소식 Mount Jiri News Bulletin - News about comrades 대한민국역사박물관 1954 15. 피난민 증명서 Proof of Refugee Status 대한민국역사박물관 1950 16. 한국은행권 지폐 Banknotes issued by the Bank of Korea 대한민국역사박물관 1950~1960
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17. 제주 지역 국민학교 학생 그림 과제 Elementary school drawing homework 대한민국역사박물관 1951 18. 정부에서 시행한 여론조사 문서 Document on opinion poll taken by South Korean government 대한민국역사박물관 1952 19. 전사통지서 양식 Death notification Template 대한민국역사박물관 1952 20. 상이군경 위문공연 후 기념촬영 Commemorative photo taken after a performance organized for disabled soldiers 제암리3.1운동순국기념관 1950년대
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21. 납북자 하격홍 아내의 일기 Diaries of Seong Gap-sun (Wife of Ha Gyeok-hong) 6·25전쟁납북자기념관 1959~1999 22. 이산가족 이영록의 '두만강에 가다' 시화 액자 Going to the Tumen River' Poem and Picture 이영록 2000년 이후 23. 군사분계선 표지판 Military Demarcatio n Line Sign Board 시간여행 광복이후