This monument in Battery Park north of Castle Clinton, honors military personnel who served in the Korean Conflict (1950-1953). The memorial, dedicated in 1991, was designed by Welsh-born artist Mac Adams (b. 1943) and is notable as one of the first Korean War memorials erected in the United States.
The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel, the dividing line between North and South Korea, and invaded South Korea. Within a month, the North Koreans had pushed the South Korean army and supporting U.S. forces to the southernmost tip of the Korean peninsula. In response, the United Nations authorized an army under the command of U.S. General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), to repulse the North Koreans and re-establish the boundary between the North and South at the 38th parallel. In mid-September, MacArthur staged a daring amphibious landing at the Inchon Peninsula and attacked the North Koreans from behind. The U.N. troops had soon pushed the North Korean army back across the 38th parallel, and were advancing on the Yalu River, the border between North Korea and China.
Fearing invasion, Chinese forces next became involved in the conflict. In November, the Chinese attacked the U.N. forces near the Yalu River, and quickly succeeded in driving them back into South Korea. The U.N. forces then counterattacked and managed to re-establish a battle line near the 38th parallel. In April 1951, President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) relieved General MacArthur of his command, rejecting MacArthur's aggressive policies which Truman believed would instigate a major war with China and the Soviet Union. Fighting would continue in Korea for the next two years, although little ground was ultimately exchanged. Finally, on July 27, 1953, both sides signed an armistice, which ended hostilities and restored the 38th parallel as the dividing line between North and South Korea.
In 1987 the Korean War Veterans Memorial Committee was formed to raise money to build a monument to commemorate the soldiers of the "forgotten war". Mac Adams' winning design, selected from a group of over 100 entries, features a 15-foot-high black granite stele with the shape of a Korean War soldier cut out of the center. Also known as "The Universal Soldier," the figure forms a silhouette that allows viewers to see through the monument to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Adams also designed the piece to function as a sundial; every July 27 at 10 a.m. - the anniversary of the exact moment in New York when hostilities ceased in Korea - the sun shines directly through the soldier's head to illuminate the commemorative plaque installed in the ground near the piece.
On of the three tiers in the based of the monument is decorated with mosaic flags of countries that participated in the U.N.-sponsored mission. The plaza's paving blocks are inscribed with the number of dead, wounded, and missing in action from each of the 22 countries that participated in the war. Korean War veterans are also commemorated in New York with the Brooklyn Korean War Veterans Plaza in Cadman Plaza and the Korean War Veterans Parkway, which was known as the Richmond Parkway until it was renamed in April 1997 by the New York State Legislature.