Remembering A “Forgotten War”: The PEFTOK Korean War Memorial Hall

The Korean War that raged in the Korean peninsula from 1950 to 1953 is dubbed by some as “the forgotten war,” forgotten in the sense that it rarely gets much attention as it gets sandwiched and overshadowed in history by World War II during the 1940s and the Vietnam War during the 1960s.

Nevertheless, it is an event that deserves to be given much attention as well considering it was the first armed conflict that erupted in the context of the greater tense atmosphere brought about by the Cold War era, as the United States and United Nations allies fought to stop the Soviet and China-backed communist North Korea from overthrowing the democratic South Korea and control the peninsula in the process.

The Philippine Korean War Monument in Goyang City, South Korea (source: personal archives; see https://goo.gl/GfKze6)

Also deserves to be remembered are the Filipino soldiers who participated in the war as part of the United Nations contingent in defending the nascent South Korean state from the brink of invasion. These 7500 men were part of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea or PEFTOK. And for 5 years, they were stationed in this then fragile part of the world trying to keep the peace.

In their honor, a museum and memorial was opened in 2012 near Fort Bonifacio, the PEFTOK Korean War Memorial Hall.

The PEFTOK Korean War Memorial Hall was built through the joint efforts of the Philippines and South Korea through their respective defense ministries and veterans affairs offices among other agencies. It serves to give a long overdue recognition and appreciation to the soldiers who helped defend and rebuild South Korea.

The structure takes the form of one of those Korean palaces that one could mistake to be some temple of some sort. Inside, however, one can see a sizable array of artifacts and memorabilia of those who fought in the Korean War, which included a future president, Fidel V. Ramos.

The hall also gives recognition to President Elpidio Quirino, under whose term the country sent men to help the United Nations during the Korean War. Incidentally, his 125th birth anniversary is coming up this year.

Also, here one also gets to learn a bit more about the Korean War as the museum details how the war went for 3 years, ending in a truce, but no permanent peace treaty that was signed. In fact, up to this day, the two Koreas are still technically at war because of this matter and the relations of these two countries are best described as “erratic” to say the least.

Overlooked yet solemn in character, the PEFTOK Korean War Memorial Hall stands as a quiet reminder of the gallantry displayed by the men who fought in a foreign land for the sake of the spirit of freedom and democracy, whose sacrifices deserve to be at least known and appreciated by present and future generations.

The PEFTOK Korean War Memorial Hall is located along Bayani Road and just a few blocks away from Fort Bonifacio, Libingan ng mga Bayani and Heritage Park. It is open from Monday to Saturday.

 

 

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