Last month I published a posted titled The First Photo from Japan in which I wrote about the first photo that I captured in Japan with my main camera. Recently I decided I ought to do the same thing for Korea. Opening the appropriate folder on my laptop, I located that first photo and spent a moment examining it and remembering what it was about. Below is the photo.
As with the first photo from Japan, the first photo from Korea was actually taken on my second day in the country. I had flown from Fukuoka, Japan to Incheon International Airport and after clearing Customs and Immigration I got on a train to Seoul. It was after dark when I finally reached my hostel, so I didn’t get around to taking any photos with my main camera that day. The next morning I set out for the War Memorial of Korea and along the way I came across this statue on the sidewalk. It is a memorial for the women of the Yongsan district of Seoul that were kidnapped by Japanese soldiers to be used as sex slaves. I can’t read Korean, but I’m guessing the big block on the left has a list of names of the women who were taken. If you zoom in on the plaque in the center of the photo you can read a poem written in both Korean and English that calls to remembrance this sad part of Korean history, but without any hatred or malice towards the perpetrators of the crimes. Though Korea is an advanced nation and a regional power today, it was not always this way. For much of its history Korea has been under the thumb of its neighbors and memorials like the one in today’s photo recall some of the country’s darker times.
I looked over this memorial for a minute before continuing on towards my destination. It’s not easy to think about some of the terrible things that have happened to the Korean people over the years, but it’s better to remember the past than to forget it or cover it over. Hopefully Korea’s future won’t require the building of any more memorials like this one.