The Korean War Veterans Memorial at Battery Park

Updated: Jan 28

Located in the southwestern corner of Battery Park stands a very touching 15-foot granite monument, one of the first Korean War memorials set up in the United States. The "Forgotten War" was fought from 1950 to 1953 between North Korea and South Korea.

It all started with the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1876, when an agreement between Japan and Korea were made with the main provision that Korea was a free nation with the same rights as Japan. Japan, however, slowly began encroaching on Korea's sovereignty. In 1905, Korea was made a protectorate of Japan, indirectly ruled by the Japanese, and in 1910 the Japanese officially annexed Korea to Japan, without the Korean Emperor's consent. Nevertheless, Korea was ruled by the Japanese for the next 35 years. On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, leading to Japan's surrender on August 15. World War II ended a couple weeks later, on September 2, 1945, after which the Allied nations began disarming regions controlled by the Axis powers. 


At the end of the war, it was decided that the United States forces would oversee the disarmament of South Korea and the Soviet Union would oversee North Korea, with the 38th parallel being the dividing line, but instead each began to form their own government as tensions grew. The United States and the U.N. got involved when North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, with the help of the Soviet Union. During the three years or war that ensued, 2.5 million people lost their lives. Of the American soldiers sent, 103,284 were injured and 36,568 were killed or missing in action. As of last year (2019), 7,667 of these American soldiers are still unaccounted for. You can read more about it at Britannica.

"This literal void reinforces the figurative theme of absence and loss, and serves as a metaphor for death."

Welsh-born artist, Mac Adams, was commissioned to design the memorial in 1987, by the Korean War Veterans Memorial Committee. The base is 6-feet by 10.5 feet and stands 5-feet high. The soldier is carved out of the 15-foot obelisk on top, outlined in stainless steel. The flags of all the countries who participated in the war are done in beautiful mosaic and on the pavement, the casualties, number of wounded soldiers and those missing in action are given. It was dedicated on June 25, 1991 and placed north of Castle Clinton in Battery Park, with the Statue of Liberty visible through the void.

More information about the memorial is provided on this sign, located near the monument:

There are at least three other Korean War memorials in New York City. Click here to see more from my Battery Park tour.


Take a look around Battery Park with this interactive Google Map!

This visit was part of my Ancestor Trails series, visiting the homes of my ancestors. Subscribe to my free blog for updates and new additions!


Click here for my list of resources for finding military records.



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