News / Asia

South Korea Marks 60 Years Since Start of Korean War

Members of the Korean Veterans Association
Members of the Korean Veterans Association

South Korea marks the 60th anniversary Friday of the three-year war with the North. The conflict ended with a truce in 1953 and the Korean peninsula has remained in an uneasy state between war and peace.

At a subdued ceremony in an Olympic gymnasium, South Korea paid tribute to its soldiers and allies who fought under the banner of the United Nations.

Combat and support units from 21 countries arrived after North Korean forces crossed into the South on June 25, 1950.

Addressing the veterans, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said his country's ultimate goal is not another military confrontation with the North, but peace.

President Lee says for that to happen North Korea must stop reckless military provocations, such as the torpedo sinking of the Cheonan warship three months ago, which killed 46 South Korean sailors.

The president called for Pyongyang to clearly confess to sinking the vessel, apologize, and take a responsible attitude in front of the international community.


The March 26 incident has raised tensions on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea denies involvement and has warned that any moves by the United Nations to punish it could lead to renewed war.

President Lee is expected to discuss the U.S. and South Korean response to the Cheonan incident Saturday on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, in Canada.

Former U.S. Major Kurt Chew-Een Lee from the documentary Uncommon Courage: Breakout at Chosin.

"The Korean War was perhaps the most intense war. The Korean War only lasted three years. But there were 33,700 killed in action. "

"People make a big thing. 'Oh, you are fighting against your own brothers and all that.' But what about all the Germans and Italians in the American army fighting against the Europeans. Do they have the same concern? "

"I found war to be a fairly simple matter. Everything is black and white as a matter of life and death and the welfare of your men."

Some U.S. veterans returning to South Korea for the war anniversary are calling Seoul's public tribute to the allies long overdue.

Robert Fletcher is one of them. He arrived in Korea in 1950 as a 17-year-old private first class with the 24th Infantry, a regiment composed solely of African-American soldiers. Fletcher remains bitter that the achievements of his heavily outnumbered unit at Busan have been overshadowed in history by the subsequent counter-attack by U.S. Marines.

"We destroyed three divisions of North Koreans and then went back to our position," he said. "People don't understand it. If we hadn't held, the [U.S.] Marines would have never landed up at Incheon."

Fletcher would later be captured by the North Koreans and spend 33 months as a prisoner of war.

What also seems to be making a profound impact on the returning veterans is how South Korea rebuilt and became so prosperous. It is now Asia's fourth largest economy.

"It's completely different than I remember," said Joseph O'Brien, a U.S. Army private first class during the Korean War. "When I was here, there was nothing. Everything was blown up. Nothing but dirt roads. Everything now is so modern. It looks great."

The United States dispatched nearly 1.8 million troops, sailors and airmen to Korea during the war, making it the largest member of the 21-nation coalition. More than 36,000 Americans were killed. But the Korean people suffered the most with an estimated 2.5 million perishing during the 37 months of war.

You May Like

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs