South Korea calls for peace through strength on 73rd Korean War anniversary

The prime minister underscored that a crucial foundation of national security lies in collaborating with countries that uphold universal shared values.

Ji Da-gyum

Ji Da-gyum

The Korea Herald


Prime Minister Han Duck-soo speaks at a national ceremony marking the start of the Korean War held on Sunday at the Jangchung Arena in Seoul. (Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs)

June 26, 2023

SEOUL – South Korea’s prime minister on Sunday called for the establishment of genuine peace by further strengthening the military, saying that North Korea’s persistent missile and nuclear threats are driven by an outdated mindset and perceptions stemming from the Korean War.

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo delivered a speech during a ceremony commemorating the 73rd anniversary of the start of the Korean War on June 25. The Korean War began 73 years ago in 1950 when North Korea launched a sudden and armed invasion of South Korea with the goal of unifying the Korean Peninsula under the communist North Korean leadership.

“Even to this day, North Korea has yet to awaken from the futile delusion of the Korean War. The country persists in undermining the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the international community through successive missile launches and the ongoing threat of nuclear tests,” Han said during the ceremony in Seoul.

“The government will protect our security, not by relying on North Korea’s deceptive intentions for false peace, but through strong self-defense,” he said.

Han emphasized that the Korean War, which lasted for 1,129 days, claimed the lives of around 175,000 South Korean armed forces and members of the United Nations coalition consisting of 22 countries, leaving more than 28,000 individuals missing.

Millions of people — men, women and children — tragically lost their lives or sustained injuries, while tens of millions of people endured the anguish of separation.

“The Korean War, initiated by North Korea’s armed invasion in the early morning of June 25, 1950, stands as the greatest tragedy in the history of our nation,” Han said. “The war left the entire country in ruins.”

The South Korean prime minister underscored that a crucial foundation of national security lies in collaborating with countries that uphold universal shared values, such as liberal democracy.

Han elucidated that President Yoon Suk Yeol’s visit to the United States in April presented an opportunity to elevate the South Korea-US alliance, which was established 70 years ago, into a “nuclear-based security alliance.”

“Furthermore, the strained relationship between South Korea and Japan is also progressing towards a forward-looking cooperative relationship, and therefore, the security cooperation among South Korea, the US and Japan will be further strengthened.”

Korean War veterans clad in white uniforms provided by the South Korean government salute in front of participants during a commemorative ceremony held in Seoul on Sunday. (Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs)

Han underlined that safeguarding South Korea in collaboration with like-minded nations is a true expression of gratitude and repayment to the South Korean and foreign veterans who selflessly devoted their youth to the causes of freedom and peace against North Korea.

“We must remember that the freedom, peace and prosperity we enjoy today are the result of the sacrifices made by the young heroes who shed their blood, sweat and tears on the battlefield,” he said.

The televised commemorative event in Seoul was attended by around 1,500 participants, including Korean War veterans who were clad in white uniforms provided by the South Korean government and descendants of UN forces who participated in the Korean War.

The ceremony began with a display of the national flags of the 22 UN sending states, and it culminated with all participants joining together to sing the “Korean War song.”

“Ah, ah, how can we forget the day? When the enemy of our motherland came and trampled our soil,” they sang together. “Justice will prevail, it shall prevail in the end. We’ll fight and fight again for freedom. And make sure this day never comes again.”

President Yoon also expressed deep gratitude and reverence for the dedicated sacrifices made by South Korea and the UN forces in a message shared on Sunday on his Facebook page.

“We must never forget the bloodshed and tears shed by war veterans and their families. We must remember the significance of the military uniforms stained with the blood of heroes that have established the free Republic of Korea,” Yoon said.

Yoon said 1.95 million UN forces, including 1.78 million American troops stood together with South Korea to protect the country’s freedom. Approximately 620,000 South Korean soldiers and 150,000 UN forces, including 130,000 American troops, endured casualties, including fatalities, missing individuals and injuries, throughout the three-year-long war.

“Only strong power guarantees genuine peace,” Yoon said. “We will steadfastly defend the free Republic of Korea, ensuring that the sacrifices made by the heroes who defended freedom by fighting against the invasion by communist forces will not be in vain.”

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