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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

ROKS Pohang: Ship Museum

Today we visited the ROKS Pohang, a Pohang-class Corvette warship of South Korea, which was decommissioned in 2009 and sent to rest in its namesake city, Pohang. Which is where we live, so that's pretty handy.

The ship is anchored in the harbor across from the Jukdo fish market (see previous blogs on that) and was turned into a free, hands-on museum. In 2010, it also became a memorial for the sailors lost on its sister ship, the Cheonon, when it was torpedoed and sunk by the North Koreans (in South Korean waters). Half the men on board died in addition to a rescue diver.  The pictures of these young soldiers bring to mind my college students, and especially Nick's Korean college students.  I am reminded again that this wealthy little country is fighting a long civil war where a pretty small ethnic group and extended family clans are horribly divided across a deadly border.  Here are some pictures and brief comments.
Pictures of the sailors who died on the Cheonon, with
sticky-note prayers left by visitors.
Bronze statue of the rescue diver who fell unconscious
and died from the pressure at the Cheonon wreck.

Nick explains the various warships to David.  His
gesture signals his inner need to expound on
matters historical and philosophical.
David is a good boy.

Sam in one of the control rooms.

David is 5' 5" and doesn't fit in the bunks.
We counted 18 bunks and lockers in this 25x20' room -
not much personal space.

Sam doesn't really fit on board, either

Nick and Sam admire a 30mm gun. 
David prepares to load a 30mm gun.
(Not really - the museum isn't THAT hands-on.)

David and Elisabeth on the bridge with our tour guide.
He is very pleasant but knows almost no English.  That did not deter Nick from
pantomiming his questions, which makes the kids crazy with embarrassment.
It's totally worth it. 

Great signage in Korean, English, and Chinese.  
This is the small armory storage room.
Now we open the door... 

and we find brooms and shovels in the
Small Armory.  Korea makes me laugh and laugh.  : )

Helmeted Americans posing by the aft 30mm gun
At the end of our tour, a very nice young lady came of out her office (formerly the first mate's quarters, or something like that) and thanked us for coming.  I thanked her and tried to be helpful by explaining that the ship was very hard to find on the internet. My limited grasp of Korean and her limited grasp of English meant we were both making typing gestures in the air, hers accompanied by a nodding insistence that if I searched for "pohang warship" I would find this museum, and my air-typing accompanied by a shaking head that this museum is not listed on the pohang tourism sites and is therefore missing a huge target audience. I think we agreed to disagree, then bowed and smiled and thanked each other until I left.  I keep forgetting that in Korea, as the older person I get to decide when the conversation ends.  Wouldn't it be great if politics could be settled so easily?  We could bring back Reagan, sit him in a room with the South Korean and North Korean presidents, and Reagan gets what he wants just because he's the oldest.


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