NZ Veterans Visit Korea for Armistice Commemorations
Hundreds of Korean War veterans, and bereaved families of fallen soldiers arrived in South Korea to attend commemorative events marking the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the three-year conflict, the Korean Herald reports. The South Korean Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs invited about 300 veterans from four Commonwealth countries and families of those who sacrificed their lives to recognise their contributions, the Korean Herald said. Around 30 New Zealand veterans attended the commemoration, with funding from the New Zealand Government. During the five-day visit, the participants attended ceremonies of remembrance at the National Cemetery in Seoul, and visited the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in the port city of Busan. New Zealand was one of the first nations to provide support to South Korea. The conflict lasted from 1950 until 1953. Around 4700 New Zealand personnel served in Korea, and a further 1300 naval personnel were involved. Forty-five New Zealanders lost their lives in during the seven years New Zealand was involved in the conflict and its aftermath. In total, some 95,000 soldiers, including those from Commonwealth nations, fought against North Korea and its Chinese ally. New Zealand’s Minister of Veteran’s Affairs, Nathan Guy, said that the commemoration was ‘a chance for veterans to pay tribute to fellow servicemen and women who served New Zealand in this conflict. It is an important way of honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice.’ A New Zealand-based service was held for those unable to attend in Korea. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula remained high during the commemorations. North Korea has always refused to accept the armistice. This means that, as the Korean Herald reminded readers, the two Koreas technically remain at war.