By Mehmet Sah Yilmaz
ANKARA (AA) – On the 68th anniversary of the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War, Turkey's ambassador to South Korea said that despite multiple attempts over the last seven decades, the two sides have yet to reach a peace deal, yet it was a key moment in Turkish-Korean history.
The war started on June 25, 1950, when North Korea began invading South Korea along the border located on the 38th parallel, the line of latitude that crosses the peninsula they shared. It ended on July 27, 1953.
Since no peace accord has been signed between the two sides despite numerous attempts, Ambassador Ersin Ercin told Anadolu Agency, technically the conflict "still continues."
On Turkey’s sending troops as part of the UN force in the war, he said Turkey reached a watershed moment when the UN Security Council called on member states to "send troops to the war."
“Our country's decision to send troops to Korea with 15 other countries provoked surprising opposition from the invaders, who took control of the entire country in 27 days.”
“Three years of bloody war, which resulted in the deaths of a total of 3 million people, was stopped by an armistice agreement on July 27, 1953; South Korea was liberated, and the spread of communism in northeast Asia was prevented in the first crisis of the Cold War,” he stated.
Ercin said Turkey's participation in the Korean War had changed the country's policy of not participating in international conflicts since the Turkish Republic was founded in 1923, and that Turkey is one of the most respected members of the international community for its participation in the Western system through the NATO alliance, which it joined in 1952.
- Turkish soldiers’ success
He said Turkish soldiers managed to stop and destroy the “enemy” forces despite insufficient ammunition and serious communication problems with US forces.
"At a time when UN troops under the command of the US had dashed their hopes, (Turkish troops) again created hope for victory,” Ercin said.
“The Turkish soldiers, praised by American Gen. (Douglas) McArthur as ‘hero of heroes,’ were awarded outstanding honors by both the US Congress and the Korean government for their heroism in defying death.”
Lee Won-Ik, South Korea’s ambassador to Turkey, also said Koreans see Turkish people as blood brothers and sisters despite the distance between the countries, mentioning that they still appreciate Turkey’s help during the war.
“After the war, diplomatic relations were established between Turkey and Korea on March 8, 1957. Since then, the two countries have supported each other in various areas, such as politics, the economy, culture, and national defense,” said Lee.
Stressing that Turkey fought alongside South Korea for freedom and peace, he said, “This is an example of a passionate bond between Korea and Turkey.”
*Writing by Merve Berker