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The Forgotten War: Korea 1950 | January 7, 2022

The Forgotten War: Korea 1950

Harry S. Truman Library and Museum Unveils a Photo Retrospective of the Korean War

A new exhibition at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum offers a poignant look at the first few months of the Korean War through the lens of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Max Desfor. The Forgotten War: Korea 1950 features 36 stunning photographs of the frantic early months of the war from September to December 1950, when the fate of the Korean peninsula was in question. 

Max Desfor, photographer

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Max Desfor spent three years in Korea. Now, his breathtaking documentary images are on display at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, giving us insight into “the forgotten war.”

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Max Desfor, an Associated Press photographer, spent three turbulent years in Korea, capturing the people’s plight and the struggles of American soldiers on the battlefields.

Among the photographs is his dramatic 1950 Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Korean citizens scrambling to safety by crawling over the wreckage of a bridge destroyed by bombs. In a short video that accompanies the exhibit, the late photographer describes his thoughts as he documented the devastation.

North Korean Bridge with people escaping

The 36 photographs in this exhibition were made available with permission from the Associated Press and from the Special Collections archives at North Carolina State University. The exhibition was organized by Cyma Rubin, a Tony and Emmy Award-winning producer, writer and director.

Rubin also curated the photographic exhibitions Capture the Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs; Shooting The Pulitzer; and The American Soldier: A Photographic Tribute. The Forgotten War premiered in Seoul, South Korea, before traveling to other venues in the United States.

Korean War cemetery

“This beautiful exhibit provides a rare glimpse into this complex war that continues to impact the world. Each photo tells a story that will leave lasting impressions.”

– Kurt Graham, Truman Library Director

The Forgotten War: Korea 1950 will be on display at the Truman Library through April 2, 2022. Following its run at the Truman Library, the exhibition will return to South Korea. The exhibition text and captions are displayed in English and Korean.

Currently, Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. Due to COVID-19 protocols, all tickets are timed and must be purchased in advance at; masks are required to enter.

This special exhibition is included with regular admission, which is $12 for adults. Discounts are offered for seniors, military veterans and students. Members and children under 12 are admitted free of charge.

Funding for the local display of the exhibition was provided by the Truman Library Institute. Following its run at the Truman Library, the exhibition will return to South Korea.

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