Korean War Memorial Visitors Guide

A Visitors Guide to the Korean War Memorial

A visit to the Korean War Memorial is one of the top attractions in Washington, DC.   Dedicated in 1995, this monument is a tribute to the American soldiers who served and those who died in America’s “forgotten war.”  The Korean War Memorial consists of 19 larger than life metal statues of American servicemen.  They are marching through a minefield in a freezing rain on a Korean mountainside.  Those 19 statues reflect in a black granite wall set to one side of them.  The 19 statues plus the 19 reflections are representative of the 38th parallel that still divides North and South Korea to this day as well as the 38 months that the war lasted.  More than 36,574 American soldiers died in the Korean War and more than 7800 remain unaccounted for.


Opening Hours at the Korean War Memorial

The Korean War Memorial is open 24 hours a day every day of the year.  Entrance to the public is always free.


How to Get to the Korean War Memorial

The nearest Metro stations all approximately one mile away.  These are the Smithsonian station, the Federal Triangle station, and the Foggy Bottom metro station.  Each of these are on the orange/blue/silver lines.  The Arlington Cemetery station is about the same distance, but only the blue line metro stops here.  This station closes after 10:00 PM.  A Capitol Bikeshare stand is nearby on Daniel French Drive.  One way to visit the Korean War Memorial is to include it as part of a monument tour by Nonpartisan Pedicab which allows you to visit all the monuments in about two hours.  Many people say that this one of the best things to do in DC.


Handicap Facilities at the Korean War Memorial

There are no stairs at the Korean War Memorial. There is a gentle ramp leading down towards the Memorial.  There are several handicapped parking spots available on Daniel French Drive.  These are also available for visitors to the Lincoln Memorial.  Midway between the Korean War Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, there is an information kiosk run by the National Park Service.  They will lend you a folding wheelchair for free which you can use to visit the Korean War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial.  You will have to leave them an ID.  The information kiosk is open from 9:30 AM to 10:00 PM every day.  The best way to access the Korean War Memorial is via a tour for the disabled or handicapped by Nonpartisan Pedicab.


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Things to do in DC

One of the top things to do in DC is to visit the Korean War Memorial on a monument tour!


Restrooms at the Korean War Memorial

The closest restroom is at the nearby Lincoln Memorial.  Facing the Lincoln Memorial, there is a doorway to the left of the stairs.  Go in that doorway to find the restrooms.  That is also where you will find the elevator that brings you up to the inner sanctum of the Lincoln Memorial.


Food Availability at the Korean War Memorial

There is a National Park Service food concession stand just across Daniel French Drive not far from the Korean War Memorial.  Hot dogs, pretzels, and several kinds of sandwiches are available.  You can also buy cold and hot drinks.  They even sell beer.


Parking at the Korean War Memorial

There is on-street parking on Ohio Drive.  However, spots are limited.  First-come, first-serve.  Some on-street parking is available on Constitution Avenue, but be careful not to have your car parked here during rush hours.  Between 4:00-6:30 PM M-F, the police aggressively ticket cars that remain parked on Constitution Avenue.   Private vehicles without handicapped stickers or plates are not even permitted to enter onto Daniel French Drive.

On-street parking on the National Mall is no longer free of charge.  Three hour parking is available at $2 per hour.  Parking meters only accept credit cards.

The smart thing to do is not to try to tour the Mall with your car.   Park at the Ronald Reagan Building at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.  They are open 24 hours and have reasonable parking rates.  One of the best things to do in DC is to take a pedicab tour of the monuments with Nonpartisan Pedicab. We can pick you up at any downtown location for free.  You can see all the monuments in about two hours and get dropped off back at your car or anywhere else you like.


The Korean War Memorial during the Cherry Blossom Festival

This Memorial is not surrounded by cherry trees.  However, the nearby MLK Memorial is one of the best places in DC to see the cherry blossoms.




Top Things to Do in DC

Take a look at these things to do while visiting DC.  Here’s how to take advantage of visiting all the monuments and memorials and museums that DC has to offer.


Other Attractions Near to the Korean War Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is nearby.  The Vietnam War Memorial is not far away.  The MLK Memorial is also a short walk down Independence Avenue.


History and Facts about the Korean War Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial is located near the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC. It was dedicated on July 27, 1995. The memorial commemorates the sacrifices of the 5.8 million Americans who served in the U.S. armed services during the three-year period of the Korean War. The war was one of the most hard fought in our history. During its relatively short duration from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953, 36,724 Americans died in support of their country. In addition, 7800 are still listed as missing in action. 103,284 American servicemen were wounded during the conflict.

The Mural Wall was designed by Louis Nelson of New York, NY and fabricated by Cold Spring Granite Company, Cold Spring, MN. The muralist, sculptor and architect worked closely to create a two-dimensional work of art adjacent to the three-dimensional statues. The wall consists of 41 panels extending 164 feet. Over 2,400 photographs of the Korean War were obtained from the National Archives. They were enhanced by computer to give a uniform lighting effect and the desired size. The mural, representing those forces supporting the foot soldier, depicts Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard personnel and their equipment. The etchings are arranged to give a wavy appearance in harmony with the layout of the statues. The reflective quality of the Academy Black Granite creates the image of a total of 38 statues, symbolic of the 38th Parallel and the 38 months of the war. When viewed from afar, it also creates the appearance of the mountain ranges of Korea.

To the north of the statues and path is the United Nations Wall, a low wall listing the 22 members of the United Nations that contributed troops or medical support to the Korean War effort.

Just beyond is the Pool of Remembrance, a shallow pool 30 feet (9 m) in diameter lined with black granite and surrounded by a grove of linden trees with benches. The trees are shaped to create a barrel effect, which allows the sun to reflect on the pool. Inscriptions list the numbers killed, wounded, missing in action, and held as prisoners of war, and a nearby plaque is inscribed: “Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.” Additionally, right next to the numbers of American soldiers are those of the United Nations troops in the same categories. In the south side of the memorial, there are three bushes of the Rose of Sharon hibiscus plant, South Korea’s national flower.

A further granite wall bears the simple message, inlaid in silver: “Freedom Is Not Free.”

More information can be found at the Korean War Veterans Memorial homepage.