Hannah Y. Kim, a Korean American woman with a mission, has unveiled a website (www.KoreanWarMemorials.com) that features photos of almost 180 Korean War Memorials she has personally visited, traveling 132,1000 miles across 6 continents in 30 countries that participated in the Korean War (1950-1953), as well as all 50 states in the United States plus the four U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The online portal will present 400 videos with stories of nearly 1,200 veterans she has met altogether in her journeys, including her 90-day tour across the 50 states in 2018.
Sponsored by Alpine Securities USVI, Kim was able to interview and lay wreaths with the USVI’s Korean War veterans at the Roosevelt Veterans Memorial Park in St. Thomas and at the Verne I. Richards Veteran Memorial Park Roosevelt Veterans Memorial Park St. Croix in July 2018.
Originally scheduled for a launch in time for the 70th anniversary of the Korean War on June 25th, 2020, the website will make the U.S. content available sooner for Americans to visit over the Memorial Day weekend. The U.S. content includes more than 1,000 photos of nearly 100 memorials Kim visited, with a video of her interviewing local veterans and supporters at each site.
“It breaks my heart that most of the Memorial Day commemorations across the nation have been canceled due to COVID-19. I want to ensure that those who died fighting for our freedoms will be remembered and honored, albeit remotely. I hope people will viscerally see that freedom is not free,” says Kim.
The website features a virtual Wall of Remembrance with the names of nearly 41,000 killed worldwide in the Korean War, including more than 36,000 Americans from each U.S. state and territory. It lists the names of 78 Virgin Islanders who died in Korea out of the 750 who served. Visitors will be able to pay tribute by leaving comments behind.
“I wouldn’t be here without the sacrifices of the veterans and wish to convey the gratitude of the Korean people. Ultimately this website is our collective gift to the veterans, their fallen comrades and families,” adds Kim, who was able to develop the website through the support of Naeil Foundation, an organization established by successful 2nd generation of Korean Americans. Most of her travels were funded with donations from her Korean American family and friends who pitched in to express their thanks.
A former chief of staff to Congressman Charles B. Rangel (retired), and founder of Remember727, Kim has made it her lifelong mission to honor the Korean War veterans and promote peace on the Korean Peninsula. Her devoted activism began in 2008 at the age of 24 when she lobbied Congress to enact legislation, signed by President Barack Obama in 2009, which established July 27 as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day in the United States.
Kim is also the official Ambassadress of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation USA (KWVMF), which is currently raising funds to add a physical Wall of Remembrance to the National Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC. She will direct a link to the KWVMF’s donation page for anyone who wishes to support their efforts to memorialize the names of 36,000 Americans who died in Korea.
Background on the Korean War
From 1950-1953, 1.8 million Americans served in the Korean War, including 600,000 African Americans, 25,000 Japanese Americans, 20,000 Chinese Americans, and 148,000 Hispanic
Americans. The U.S. suffered 54,246 casualties and 8,176+ plus POW/MIAs.
In total, the Korean War involved 30 nations: UN Allied (27) — Republic of Korea, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa, Suriname, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom (including Scotland, Ireland, Wales), United States; Naval Support/Service: Japan; Medical: Denmark, Italy, Norway, India, Sweden; Communist Forces (3) — Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, People’s Republic of China, Soviet Union.
The Korean War claimed lives of more than 2.5 million Koreans and separated more than 10 million Korean families, including 100,000 Korean Americans who have yet to meet their families in the North.
The 3-mile wide buffer zone between the two Koreas, known as the DMZ, is the most heavily armed border in the world. Today the Two Koreas remain divided and are technically still at war.