Korean War Children’s Memorial – Korea

Sebastian, the Mexican sculptor, his wife Gabriela, and I were having lunch in a restaurant in Mexico City and talking about the Korean War Children’s Memorial in Bellingham.  Sebastian said “I have a sculpture I would like to donate to Big Rock Garden Park to honor the servicemen and women who saved the children during the Korean War.”  I responded that since we already had one sculpture by him in the park (Lipchitziana) we should consider giving this one to Korea to serve as the Korean War Children’s Memorial there.  Sebastian’s response was “It’s yours.  You decide where you want to put it.”  The sculpture was a 6’ tall white enameled steel column of figurative doves called “Las Palomas”, the Doves, symbols of peace.

Governor Kim Moon-soo of Gyeonggi Province offered to place it at the Peace Park next to the DMZ and visible from North Korea but the Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs refused to pay for shipping or for airfare for Sebastian and Gabriela to the dedication.  A small article was published in the Chosun Ilbo newspaper telling that an agency of the Government of Korea had turned down the offer of a sculpture by the world-famous sculptor, Sebastian.  Small as it was the article caught the eye of the Minister of Defense and also the eye of the President of Korea.  Shortly the Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs was ordered to accept the sculpture and invite Sebastian and Gabriela to Korea for the dedication.

When Sebastian found out that the sculpture would stand as the Korean National Korean War Children’s Memorial, dedicated to the estimated 500,000 children who died in the three years of the war, and dedicated to a national ceremony he decided to make a new one but much larger.  The new one was 21 ft. tall.  It was shipped to Korea and mounted at the entrance to the Peace Park in Imjingak, Gyeonggi Province.  The dedication ceremony was part of the national activities commemorating the end of the Korean War.  The ceremony was televised on national TV and publicized in all print media of the nation.  The plaque on the sculpture read “Sculptor:  Sebastian,  Donor: George F. Drake.”  I protested and wanted Sebastian to be noted as the donor but I was overruled by the Koreans. 

Later the Rev. Haeryang Yoo Kim purchased the smaller copy of Las Palomas for her Korean War Orphanage museum and archive in Gwangju, ROK.  Sebastian and Gabriela were invited to attend the dedication of that sculpture also.