Bravery or Futility?

Robert Downie @intrepidphotosJune 2018 · 2 min read


Ominous skies above a monument to the Korean War in Seoul. From 1950 to 1953 the Korean War was brutally fought between North and South Korea. The war involved a United Nations force led by the USA fighting for the South against a Chinese and Soviet Union backed North. Fighting ended on 27 July 1953, when an armistice was signed. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), 35miles (~55km) north of Seoul, to separate North and South Korea. No peace treaty was subsequently signed, and the two Koreas are technically still at war. Periodic clashes, many of which have resulted in casualties, continue to this day.

The shot below was taken of insignia on a Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) F-5 jet fighter. The Northrop F-5A "Freedom Fighter" was a Supersonic fighter used by South Korea in the 1960's to counter the North Korean MiG-19 Supersonic fighter.


This final shot represents a tiny fraction of a stone memorial with all the names of the South Korean lives lost in the Korean War. South Korea lost over 137,899 soldiers with a further 450,742 wounded. In comparison the US lost 36,574 deaths and 103,284 wounded, while the North suffered a staggering loss of life estimated to be between 350,000 to 700,000 people. It is often called "The Forgotten War" or "The Unknown War" because of the lack of public attention it received both during and after the war, and in relation to the global scale of World War II, which preceded it, and the subsequent angst of the Vietnam War, which succeeded it.


I took all the above shots around the grounds of the War Memorial of Korea in Yongsan-dong, Seoul, South Korea. It's a sobering place to walk though especially considering the DMZ is only 35 miles away to the North. I highly recommend it to anyone passing though the area.

So what did everyone think of the US - North Korea summit yesterday in Singapore? Regardless of the politics of the players involved, lets hope it represents a new beginning for a troubled peninsula.

Robert Downie
Love Life, Love Photography

All images in this post were taken by and remain the Copyright of Robert Downie - - If you would like to learn a little bit more about my background in photography you can read the interview @photofeed did with me here

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I have actually been there. I went to high school in Korea, there in Yongsan and lived near Itaewon. I was almost caught in a demonstration when I was crossing the street near the memorial. Buses full of riot police came flying past us as the riots were breaking out near there. That was when we decided it was a good idea to get out of there.

Where you able to make it up to the DMZ? I wonder what is going to happen to that area now that North and South Korea are working things out. It is strange that these talks of peace are going on right now. When I was in the military I was sent back to Korea as one of my duty stations and I spent time up near the DMZ. It was a very odd feeling up in that area. Very tense.


I did not make it up to the DMZ. I was passing though the area quickly and did not have time. That must have been interesting experience living there as a teenager. Did you lean any Korean ? The tension is palatable ; hopefully these talks are not just another false start.


Ya I learned Korean while I was there. I have forgotten most of the conversational aspects of it, but I can still read it and write it. Like all of the names on the wall, I can read all of them. I am sure if I were to go back, I would pick up the language again pretty quickly.


Nice. I would like to give our kids a chance to learn another language like that.

0 thing I miss the most about being home schooled is never learning a second language. I feel like my brain is handicapped by thinking unilingually and I've always regretted being a monoglot. That's awesome, @derangedvisions, that you were able to learn to speak and write the language while in Korea!

As for the recent talks, putting aside the sense of wrongness felt seeing the president of America cordially shaking hands with someone with a history like Kim Jong Un (not that that's an unusual circumstance), it's hard not to be hopeful that this is the best way forward for the region and the world. If the key to turning N. Korea around is internal deisolationism, having the leader seen to be friendly with the enemy would seem to be a good start, however it's reported to the people back home. We'll see. I can't think of a situation in history exactly like this to draw information from.

North Korea is a unique case, but it's time we stopped treating the place like a joke, as has been the typical reaction in western culture. Not necessarily because of the danger the leadership poses to other countries but because it's nothing like a joke for the people who live there, and as backwards as we think North Korea is, it's still a reality in 2018. I'm glad there are actions being taken towards change.


Could not agree more about facilitating internal deisolationism. The west needs to provide a viable path out of where they are now. Putting aside the irony of tearing up a working deal that was opening up Iran and then making making similar concessions to try and develop a similar deal with North Korea, it is certainly a step in the right direction.


I remember my grandfather telling me about the Korean War. It's amazing how few know or care about it... Well done sharing a bit of history with some amazing photos.


Thanks. It is important the people look to the past to understand the present.


I hate it when countries go to war and not sort things out peacefully. The recent US-North korea situation is really terrifying. I hope things get sorted soon.
Bdw the first picture is really good!




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It's a really nice picture and it means so much.
War is too scary and I hope it never happens again. @intrepidphotos


Yes. Lets hope it never happens again in our lifetimes!


I cannot imagine the horrific war!


No lets hope we never experience one.


Toda guerra es dolorosa, espero que esta cumbre represente un nuevo espacio para que la península se libere de todos los problemas que la abruman.


I hope so too!