SEOUL/BUSAN, Nov. 11 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea held an annual ceremony Thursday to commemorate the sacrifices of U.N. troops killed during the 1950-53 Korean War, delivering a reverberating message: The fallen heroes would never be forgotten.
The “Turn Toward Busan” event took place at the U.N. Memorial Cemetery in the southeastern port city of Busan with the attendance of some 300 people, including war veterans, their families and diplomatic delegates, the veterans affairs ministry said.
A minute of silence was observed with attendees turning toward the cemetery to pay homage to the troops who fought alongside South Korean forces during the first major armed conflict of the Cold War. Then came a 21-gun salute.
Among the participants was U.N. Command (UNC) chief Gen. Paul LaCamera, who highlighted the U.N. troops’ fearless dedication to the defense of South Korea.
“We again demonstrate to the world that we will never forget our fallen,” LaCamera said.
“The Korean people sleep peaceably in their beds at night, confident that our great force remains ready to continue to protect them. Nations continue to see that we are still the most lethal and combined military in the world,” he added.
Citing Yi Sun-sin, a legendary Korean admiral whose forces prevailed in a naval battle against Japan in the 16th century, the commander stressed his forces are “moving cautiously and prudently like a mountain.”
The Busan ceremony was launched in 2007, after Vincent Courtenay, a Canadian Korean War veteran, proposed such a commemorative ritual while serving as the chairman of the Canadian Korean War Commemoration Committee.
The event is observed in 22 other countries that also took part in the war. Some 1.95 million U.N. troops participated in the war, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
During the ceremony, the remains of three British troops killed during the conflict, which were discovered between 2016-2017 in Paju, northwest of Seoul, were buried. They were laid to rest as “unknown soldiers” as their names have yet to be verified.
In a pre-taped video message, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reflected on the fierce battle in which British troops fought shoulder to shoulder with South Korean fellows.
“On the banks of the Imjin River, 70 years ago, British and South Korean troops fought side by side against the forces of tyranny,” Johnson said. The river lies in Paju.
“And today, just as we did then, the U.K. stands with you for peace, prosperity, and the stability of the Korean Peninsula.”
The park, the only U.N. cemetery in the world, is home to more than 2,314 fallen veterans from 11 countries, including the three British troops.
On the margins of the memorial event, a new monument was also unveiled at the cemetery to mark the friendship between South Korea and Colombia and to honor around 5,100 Colombian soldiers who fought in the war under the U.N. banner.
The war left 213 Colombians dead and 448 wounded.
The two nations will mark the 60th anniversary of forging diplomatic relations next year.