The north side of the American island of Saipan has some very scenic peaks, high cliffs, thick jungle and ocean views that make this my favorite part of the island. However, all the beauty on the north side of the island is marred by its World War II past which is very evident today with the many memorials and relics from the war. The first memorial that can be seen when driving to north side of the island is the Korean Peace Memorial:
During the three week Battle of Saipan which began on June 15, 1944, approximately 55,000 Japanese soldiers and civilians died in the fighting. Of that number up to 1,000 of the war dead are believed to be Korean civilians that were brought to Saipan to work in the sugar industry. Korea became a colony of Imperial Japan in 1910 and just like Saipan only became free of Japanese rule at the end of World War II:
Around the memorial there are various markers left by different groups that have visited the memorial such as a class from the Korean Air Force Academy:
The memorial is built directly in front of the very scenic Mt. Marpi:
Mt. Marpi is an 800 foot cliff more commonly referred to as “Suicide Cliff” since it is where hundreds of Japanese soldiers and civilians jumped to their deaths instead of surrendering to US forces during the Battle of Saipan. Here is a picture Mt. Marpi from the nearby Veterans’ Cemetery:
Here is a view of the memorial looking in the opposite direction from Mt. Marpi towards the blue waters of the Philippine Sea with the US and South Korean flags in the foreground:
The Korean Peace Memorial is part of a larger peace park in northern Saipan. It is well worth stopping here to see the Korean Peace Memorial, the Okinawa Peace Memorial, the Monument to the War Dead in the Mid-Pacific and the Last Command Post. After viewing the memorials at this park the nearby Banzai Cliff and Suicide Cliff can be driven to that offer spectacular views of northern Saipan.