Melbourne Korean War Memorial opens in Maribyrnong

Monday 20 May 2019

Soldier playing the last post at the memorial opening

Soldier playing the last post at the memorial opening.

In summary

  • Korean War Memorial designed by Centre for Design Innovation
  • Design encourages bridging between Australia and Korea
  • First significant Victorian public memorial honours fallen soldiers in Korean War

Melbourne’s Korean War Memorial was formally unveiled last week. Korean and Australian war veterans attended. Consul-General of the Republic of Korea, Mr Sunghyo Kim, gave the welcoming address.

Mr Jong-gon Choi from the Korean War Memorial Committee and Mr Tom Parkinson, President of the Korean War Veterans Association shared introductions and reflections. Dignitaries from Korea, Greece, the United States, France, local councils and the Victorian state government attended.

Melbourne’s Korean War Memorial panels with images of Australian soldiers, text and floral emblems

Melbourne’s Korean War Memorial panels with images of Australian soldiers, text and floral emblems

Melbourne’s Korean War Memorial panels with images of Australian soldiers, text and floral emblems

Melbourne’s Korean War Memorial panels with images of Australian soldiers, text and floral emblems.

Designed by the Centre for Design Innovation (CDI) and steered by the Melbourne Korean War Memorial Committee and City of Maribyrnong, the memorial is a place to remember the fallen in the Korean War.

More than 17,000 Australians served in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. More than 330 Australians lost their lives and 1200 were wounded. 987,000 South Korean soldiers served in the war. There were 804,700 South Korean civilian casualties.

Located in Maribyrnong’s Quarry Park, the Korean War Memorial is the first significant public memorial in Victoria to specifically honour Australians who served in the Korean War, and the Koreans who fought alongside them.

Maribyrnong City Council generously gave the site to the Melbourne Korean War Memorial Committee. The position of the memorial offers spectacular views of Melbourne.

Australian soldier and graphics on perforated memorial panels

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Australian soldier and graphics on perforated memorial panels, and soldiers at the opening

Image of Australian soldier and graphics on perforated memorial panels, and soldiers at the opening, photography by CDI.

“Early concepts were designed to take full advantage of the site and were intended to symbolically link Australia with Korea. As a Korean-Australian working on this project, it gives me great pride in what the team were able to execute,” says Dr Jo Kuys, Lead Designer, CDI.

The design of the memorial encourages bridging between Australia and Korea. The pillar-like panels arranged in staggered configurations represent Korea rising from the ashes after the war. The poignant images of soldiers on the panels are made up of tens of thousands of perforations, allowing visitors to place remembrance poppies within the memorial.

“The exterior panel images of soldiers forever look over the memorial to the CBD, symbolising soldiers looking over the country they represented in conflict. It’s a powerful image with the instantly recognisable slouch hats associated with our armed forces,” says Mathieu Lewis, Project Manager.

In plan view, the memorial represents the Taegeukgi in the South Korean flag. The central pathway of Korean Gapyeong stone pavers blends to meet Australian bluestone pavers in the centre. The large memorial stone, a gift from Korea’s Gapyeong City Council, forms a symbolic location for laying of ceremonial wreaths.

Internal panels tell the story of the Korean War and Australia’s role, with quotes and subtle imagery. The stories, sobering statistics and explanatory graphics, inform visitors of key aspects of the war.

Guests and dignitaries at the memorial opening

Guests and dignitaries at the memorial opening 

Caption - guests and dignitaries at the memorial opening, photography by CDI.

“It was extremely humbling to see the effect of the memorial on people at the opening. Visitors were extremely emotional as they walked through the memorial, pointing out names they recognised. It really hit home that this is clearly more than just metal, stone and concrete. This is a place of remembrance,” says Mr Lewis.

Korean War Memorial panels with remembrance poppies

Korean War Memorial panels with remembrance poppies, photography by the Bureau.

Swinburne Centre for Design Innovation memorial design team includes - Professor Blair Kuys, Professor Scott Thompson-Whiteside, Dr Kirsten Day, Dr Jo Kuys, Dr Simon Jackson and Mathieu Lewis.

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