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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Historic Park of Geojedo - P.O.W. Camp

Historic Park of Geojedo - P.O.W. Camp
거제도 포로소용소 유적공원 (Korean)
巨堤岛 俘虏收容所 遗迹公园 (Chinese)

On May 14th, I joined the university spring field trip to visit the historic park P.O.W. (prisoner-of-war) camp in Geoje island. First of all, I must say I really look forward to the field trips organized twice a year by the university for foreign students, cos they are quite educational and I get to know and talk to some new people during the trips. Geoje island (Geojedo) is about a one hour bus ride away from Busan.

During the Korean war (1950-1953), a P.O.W. camp was built in Geoje island to hold up to 173,000 prisoners of war. After the signing of truce on July 27, 1953, the camp was closed. The camp was then turned into a historic park/ museum in 1999 to educate the next generation about the inhumanities of war and that everybody should pursue peaceful coexistence living in this world. 

Amidst the beauty of Geoje island, this is the second most depressing place I have ever visited in my life, the first being the notorious S-21 Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. That experience was too depressing till I can't bring myself to blog about it. But I digress.

Beautiful Geoje island
Metal sculpture at resting point
Before I visited Geojedo, I heard that this island is so beautiful, filled with flowers during springtime. That made me want to visit it very much, especially now that there is a new subway line and bridge connecting Geojedo to Busan. However, I didn't get to see much flowers during this trip. 

Arriving at the Historic Park of Geojedo P.O.W. camp
In front of the P.O.W. Diorama


From Wikipedia, a diorama is a 3D, full-size replica of a landscape typically showing historical events, nature scenes or cityscapes, for purposes of education or entertainment. The first building we entered into was the P.O.W. diorama which vivified the layout and living conditions of the Geoje P.O.W. camp. On both sides of the escalator there were cardboard models of the North Korean, China and South Korea army leaders lining up on the way. There was a huge miniature replica of the camp showing the P.O.W. going about their daily activities, complete with commands, propaganda in the Korean language blaring out from the speakers above. The communist-style background music only added to the gloomy atmosphere.

One thing that irritated me was the ignorance of some of my fellow comrades that visited the museum - they were asking questions like: "Why isn't there India flag? Why isn't there Malaysian inside?" Firstly, it showed that they had no interest whatsoever in actually trying to understand something about the place we were visiting. It was a P.O.W. camp for the Korean war. So do they mean they wish that their country ancestors were captured and imprisoned in that depressing place? And secondly, it showed the lack of common sense and historical knowledge. Malaysia hadn't gained independence until 1957, so of course there wouldn't be any Malaysians participating in that event... All they know is just to take pictures of ""me! me! me!" here and there... total fail @_@   


Bridge on the Daedong River
As the ROK troops retreated again due to the intervention of the Chinese army in the war, the refugees set out on the rough and miserable journey for freedom crossing the destroyed railway bridge on the Daedong river.  

Outdoor artifacts
Special projected image in the glasscase display
One thing I like about Korean museums is that they have very innovative displays. In the picture above they projected 2 miniature people into the glass display case and you can hear their conversation from the speakers. It made the display more informative and lively.

International friends - from Iran, Finland and Korea
Visited the life-size outdoor compound which they erected replicas of the P.O.W. camp. Some were too over-realistic I felt, the prisoners were depicted shitting and peeing with their manhood sticking out and they even had replicas of the shit and flies around it... too over lorr...

Multi-colored ribbons with peace messages
China lion statue
Some of the Chinese prisoners were too homesick that they built a lion statue in the camp grounds to remind them of home. 

Although this was a somewhat depressing experience that left a mild distaste in my mind, I am going to Geojedo again for church camp next two weeks. Hope that's gonna rejuvenate my feeling about the beautiful Geoje island.

1 comment:

junny said...

You look very slim liao :D