February 21, 2004 - Honolulu Advertiser: RPCV Kyle Kopitke helps open Korean War museum in Hawai'i

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Korea: Peace Corps Korea : The Peace Corps in Korea: February 21, 2004 - Honolulu Advertiser: RPCV Kyle Kopitke helps open Korean War museum in Hawai'i

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-13-69.balt.east.verizon.net - on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 9:02 pm: Edit Post

RPCV Kyle Kopitke helps open Korean War museum in Hawai'i

RPCV Kyle Kopitke helps open Korean War museum in Hawai'i

Museum sheds light on Korean War

Caption: Kyle Kopitke, near statues of former South Korea President Syngman Rhee and current leader Roh Moo-hyun, calls Hawai'i a logical site for a Korean War museum, citing the many Hawai'i soldiers killed and wounded during the war. Photo: Bruce Asato The Honolulu Advertiser

By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer

Visitors explored the National Korean War Museum in Wahiawa yesterday on its opening day. The facility's 38 galleries offer hundreds of posters, photographs and pieces of memorabilia, including war medals, foot lockers, combat gear and statues.

Bruce Asato The Honolulu Advertiser
There were no crowds, brass bands, dignitaries or flowery speeches for the official opening of the National Korean War Museum in Wahiawa yesterday afternoon.

There were only Kyle and Annie Kopitke, along with a couple of volunteer helpers, escorting a handful of well-wishers and curious stragglers through the museum, which is in a 200-foot-long, 1940s-era Quonset hut at 235 Kellog St.

But what the opening lacked in pomp and circumstance was more than made up in passion and conviction by Kopitke and his wife, who started and operate the museum without pay as a labor of love.

"This is the first and only national Korean War museum," said Kopitke, 46, a former Peace Corps worker and suicide prevention counselor. "There have been more than 30 attempts to build one over the past 50 years."

Kopitke said those well-meaning attempts never panned out because they were grandiose, multimillion-dollar concepts for which money could never be raised.

By contrast, he said the board of trustees for this nonprofit operation pays the building owners a dollar a year for the space. The museum has been put together by hard work and volunteer help, and virtually all the building materials and exhibit pieces have been donated.

Kopitke said the museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and the price of a ticket is $10 $20 for a lifetime pass. Hawai'i is the logical location for such a facility, he said, because it had the highest percentage of soldiers killed and wounded in the war.

It was obvious that this attempt to remember what has been called the "Forgotten War" was incomplete. Naked water pipes protruded from unfinished sections of floor. There were stacks of bricks in one corner, framed pictures leaning against walls, ladders and tools amid the 38 galleries a number of which still had a makeshift appearance.

"We do have some technical challenges," Kopitke said.

But there were also hundreds of posters, photos and pieces of memorabilia; there were war medals, foot lockers, combat gear, statues, historic explanations and a 58-foot mural by artist Andy Pak.

A 58-foot mural by artist Andy Pak depicts scenes from the Korean War in which 33,000 Americans died in three years of fighting.

In a way the museum reflects the less-than-glorious position history seems to hold for the horrific three-year war in which 33,000 Americans were killed but which the country refused to call a war until after the guns stopped firing on July 27, 1953. It was known as "the Korean conflict."

Korean War veterans didn't get the welcome-home parades, or the same financial or educational benefits that World War II veterans received, Kopitke told those who showed up yesterday. He added that they never got the recognition they deserved.

"My best guess as to why is that World War II had just ended and people were so sick of war that they just didn't want to think about it," said history buff Adam Lipka, 28, who permanently loaned the new museum his vintage 1952 Willys Jeep that saw service in Korea.

When he can, Lipka, a Honolulu police officer, also donates his time. He does it for the same reason as the Kopitkes: Because he wants those who fought in Korea whose veterans are dying at nearly the same rate as World War II veterans to understand there are people who care.

"It's a work in progress," Lipka said of the National Korean War Museum. "But it's time to get it open. There's enough of an exhibit there to give it a start. I think we're long overdue to honor and pay tribute to those veterans while they are still alive."

Reach Will Hoover at 525-8038 or whoover@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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Story Source: Honolulu Advertiser

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Korea; Museums


By Anonymous (cpe-70-95-91-181.hawaii.res.rr.com - on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - 6:12 am: Edit Post

To whom it may concern,

This is another false propaganda article about Kopitke. After all what he did to the Hawaii Teancum group of ripping them off of worth more than $500,000, this person still have a good review.

If Kopitke has good intentions, he could have returned all the monies he had owed to Teancum before relocating to Nebraska. It has been two years Kopitke is not returning all our calls. And apparently he had been re-enacting the same scenario to all the places he had relocated himself and his false propaganda of honoring the dead heroes.

This article should be taken down. Kopitke never did a good deed for the veterans and their families except making the history a some sort of a joke and a money making scam.

By Admin1 (admin) (adsl-69-151-51-37.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - 8:58 am: Edit Post

Dear Anonymous,

We have posted stories about about Mr. Kopitke both positive and negative.

As the father of our country said: "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

Best Regards,


By Anonymous (cpe-70-95-91-181.hawaii.res.rr.com - on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - 5:40 pm: Edit Post

You are confusing people if you are presenting the general public both a fabricated story vs. true facts and reality.

We are not toying with facts, we can back up our claims vs. the fabricated hype Kopitke had presented and used the media for.

Hawaii Group was fooled by this man who was pretending to honor the dead heroes but actually just trying to make a living out of them and take credit for it.

We understand that you are not fully aware of the backstage story. Anybody can get a nice review if they will pay for it. How much more if it was hyped up with the "good cause" that's what you call advertising or false propaganda.

Whether the person is sincere or not it's impossible for you to determine the true intention because you are not a victim. Although you had served Kopitke's purpose by continuosly presenting this article to the general public.

We also understand that Kopitke is a former PC and that's why you had published this article maybe to patronize him or got tricked with the "good cause" hype he attached himself into.

Nothing personal but if you are one of the victims I'm sure you will feel the same way.

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