Tribute to Korean War fallen
Journalists Poramet Tangsathaporn from Thailand and Zeynep Gürcanlı from Turkiye lay the wreath
in front of the United Nations Flag in the Ceremonial Area. KT/Ben Sokhean
During the recently-concluded World Journalists Conference 2023, international journalists had the opportunity to pay respects by laying a wreath to honour the military personnel and non-combatants who sacrificed their lives during the Korean War, at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Korea (UNMCK) in Busan city.
The one-day visit to Busan Metropolitan City last week was part of the conference held under the theme of “Leadership in the Digital Transformation Era and the Role of Journalism for Regional Development” from April 24 to 29. Fifty-four journalists from 48 countries travelled to UNMCK to lay
The 14 hectares of the cemetery contains more than 2,000 graves and is the only UN cemetery in the world. The graves are set out in 22 sites designated by the nationalities of the buried service members.
During the ceremony on Thursday, organised by Journalists Association of Korea (JAK) at UNMCK, two WJC participants Poramet Tangsathaporn from Thailand and Zeynep Gürcanlı from Turkiye, whose fellow countrymen lost their lives during the three-year war, laid the wreath in front of the UN flag in the Ceremonial Area.
Two Honour Guards from the Republic of Korea carried out the wreath-laying ceremony.
After the laying of the wreath by Poramet and Zeynep, the participants also toured the UNMCK grounds—the Symbolic Area where the national flags of the 22 countries which sent personnel, along with the South Korean and UN flags.
The flags are permanently flown above the interred ashes of the fallen from 11 countries as well as well as at the Main Grave Area where the majority of those who died from Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Turkiye, the UK and the US are buried.
The participants also visited Daunt Waterway, which was named after the youngest of the soldiers interred at the UNMCK, Private James Patrick, an Australian who was killed at the age of 17; the Wall of Remembrance which bear the names of 40,897 fallen UN forces.
An eternal flame pays tribute to all the fallen and symbolises the wish for a permanent world-wide peace.
Some participants also visited the Veteran’s Graves Area and UN Forces Monument, among other sites
Choi Kusik, a culture tour guide who acted as master of ceremony during the event, recounted the history of 70 years ago when North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel between the two Koreas and drove into the south, attempting to occupy the whole peninsula.
“At 4 am on Sunday, June 25, 1950, the North Korean People’s Army launched an unprovoked invasion of South Korea,” Choi, who was seven years old at the time, recalled.
The United Nations Command reached an armistice with China and North Korea on July 27, 1953, and a demilitarised zone (DMZ) was established along the 38th parallel.
Busan was one of only two cities in South Korea not captured by the North Korean troop within the first three months of the war, serving during wartime as the capital of the Republic of Korea.
UNMCK is the only UN memorial cemetery in the world and is the sacred, final resting place of the UN forces who served during the Korean War.
The Cemetery was first established by the UN Command in 1951 and maintained it until 1974. Today, the Commission for the UNMCK, consisting of 11 member nations that have their fallen interred in the Cemetery, oversees the overall operations of the UNMCK. There are over 2,300 personnel from 11 countries interred in this cultural heritage site.