The Chosun Ilbo has some information about a Vietnam War Veterans memorial village (베트남 참전용사 만남의 장) dedicated in Hwacheon county, Gangwon-do yesterday. It is built on the site where some 300,000 Korean soldiers trained for their service in Vietnam, and includes replicas of the tunnel network used by the Vietnamese.
The governments of Gangwon Province and Hwacheon-gun began construction of the memorial village in 2000, in the belief that it was necessary to build an educational center offering lessons about war. The provincial and county governments spent a total amount of W18 billion (US$1=W1,363) on a 140,000 sq. m lot in Oeum-li, to build a memorial hall, a monument, mock barracks, and six traditional Vietnamese houses, an exhibition hall for field combat equipment, a mock training camp, a drill ground, and a picnic site.
Early this month, the local governments completed a replica of a 157 m-long tunnel furnished with six exhibition halls, including an armory and war council room. Gangwon Province and Hwacheon-gun said they have agreed with a nearby Army unit to operate mock training classes, including a ranger school and a rifle range. At the dedication ceremony on Thursday, the flags of the eight military units that participated in the war will be hoisted, with troops to be attired in combat fatigues of the period.
Here are a few photos stolen off the wire.
South Korea lost 4,407 soldiers and had 11,000 wounded during the war. South Korean soldiers earned quite a reputation for brutality while in Vietnam, a holdover from their abuse of Allied prisoners-of-war in World War II. But as always, "war crimes" remains redundant, and you'll find stories of savagery among any group of civilized people forced to murder for a living. Worth pointing out that South Korean politicians have made overtures of peace toward Vietnam following the war, including President Kim Dae-jung who in 1998 "expressed regret" over atrocities.
Nowadays we find Vietnam in the news over here most often because of the young Vietnamese women sold to South Korean bachelors. For an interesting collection of contemporary articles on South Korea in Vietnam, and a little on its lingering influence on the put-down of the Gwangju Uprising of 1980, take a look at Gusts of Popular Feeling's "South Korean troops in Vietnam."