Moore Park is full of fascinating history, heritage and monuments – some more obvious than others. One monument, tucked away in a western corner of Moore Park is a beautiful tribute to a terrible war.
This is the story of the Korean War Memorial, Moore Park.
A little about the Korean War
While many people’s knowledge of the Korean War is shaped by watching the 1970’s television serial M*A*S*H, the story is worth knowing from the lasting legacy of friendship it forged between South Korea and Australia.
The Korean War officially lasted from 1950 to 1953. By the time it had ended on 27 July 1953, 17,000 Australian troops had been deployed there and 358 (of whom 136 came from NSW) had been killed. The war took a terrible toll on civilians and military personnel of all sides, with the numbers of casualties, estimated in a 2005 report, at 1.2 million persons – though this is open to debate.
Centennial Parklands has become the annual pilgrimage site for many local veterans of this conflict through our hosting of the Korean War Memorial.
A little bit about the Memorial
Officially recognised as a Military Memorial of National Significance in 2013, the Korean War Memorial sits neatly adjacent the Moore Park Rotunda, just off Anzac Parade.
The memorial in Moore Park came about as a result of a design competition held in 2007. It was won by Jane Cavanough (Artlandish Art and Design) and Pod Landscape Architecture and was officially dedicated on 26 July 2009.
It was funded jointly by the NSW Government, Korean Government, Veterans groups and the Korean community of Sydney.
Understanding the elements
The overall shape of the memorial draws its’ inspiration from the South Korean flag motif, the taegeuk which comes from Taoist concept of Yin and Yang, a balancing of opposing principles as part of a greater whole.
Fitting it into an established park was a big factor. We were trying to create a little garden within the park – Steve Hammond, Landscape Architect behind the memorial.
The surrounding wall that is seen from the road represents the strength of the combined forces involved whilst in contrast, there is the softness of the protective grass mound that shields it from the road and adjacent areas creating a contemplative space.
When you are in the memorial space the key elements are simple yet striking – every element represents a different aspect of the war.
The NSW troops are remembered through the steel and bronze flowers on either side of a walkway that has the names of the 21 countries that contributed to the UN force inscribed in it. In the centre of the memorial are two granite stones taken from the site of one of the major battles, Kapyon. They represent the two halves of the Korean peninsula and forms the heart of the memorial.
Running across on either side of this main path are jagged upright stones with the names of the eleven battles where Australians received battle honours.
Every year the Korean War Memorial at Moore Park hosts South Korean government delegations, an annual ceremony, and has become yet another iconic memorial in Sydney that allows us to stop and contemplate what has come before.