New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, ex-Vietnam War Protestor, tries out a bit of "nuanced" international diplomacy in Korea (2 stories)
bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Sun Jul 27 08:28:05 MDT 2003
Korean War Veterans Mark 50th Anniversary of Truce
Sun July 27, 2003 03:05 AM ET
By Martin Nesirky
PANMUNJOM, South Korea (Reuters) - Veterans and dignitaries gathered at
South Korea's Demilitarised Zone border with the North on Sunday to remember
those who did not live to see the armistice that ended Korean War fighting
50 years ago. The ceremony combined remembrance with reminders of what New
Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark called the "very critical challenge"
posed by communist North Korea's nuclear weapons aims. At 10 a.m. on July
27, 1953, North Korea and the U.N. force signed an Armistice Agreement. It
took effect 12 hours later and remains in force, meaning the Koreas are
technically at war -- and the heavily fortified DMZ is a vivid symbol of
"We pray that true peace may come to this Korean peninsula, and that this
divided country may restore its 5,000 years of history and become one
again," retired missionary Horace G. Underwood, 85, told the 1,500 veterans
and 200 dignitaries at Panmunjom truce village at the heart of the DMZ.
Underwood interpreted at the truce talks.
Army General Leon LaPorte, commander of the 37,000 U.S. troops in South
Korea, described the event in an upbeat rather than solemn speech as a
"grand celebration" of the U.N. forces saving Chinese-backed North Korea
from engulfing the South. "To some the armistice represents an
anti-climactic finish to a complex conflict," he told the crowd in a tent
that shielded them from rain. "(But) the armistice represents nothing short
of victory, nothing short of an historic international stand against
North Korea, which says it won the war, has described the ceremony as a
disgusting farce. A lone North Korean guard stood stone-faced on the far
side of the dividing line.
"This weekend we remember...the terrible human cost," said Clark, paying
tribute to more than 84,000 soldiers who died serving under the U.N. flag.
"We also remember the losses incurred by the other side," Clark said of
communist deaths that were greater than that of the allies in a war that
also killed millions of Korean civilians. "We want to see North Korea emerge
from isolation," she said. "We hope North Korea will seize the opportunity
to do that now."
North Korea is edging toward talks with the United States and other powers
in a crisis that erupted last October when Washington said Pyongyang had
said it had a covert atomic plan. At the ceremony, U.N. forces unveiled a
stone arrow curving toward the off-limits hut where U.S. Lieutenant-General
William Harrison and North Korean General Nam Il signed the truce. Over the
weekend, veterans from the 16 nations of the U.N. force visited other sites
and graves of those killed in the 1950-53 conflict, often called the
In a message to the United States, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said
the conflict was by no means forgotten.
"We resolutely repelled the attempt to communize the Korean peninsula," he
said. Retired General Paek Sun-yop, who represented South Korea at the 1953
signing, condemned human rights abuses under North Korean leader Kim
Jong-il, whose father Kim Il-sung launched the war to try to reunify the
peninsula under communist rule.
Veterans, many sporting medals and regimental hats, stared wistfully across
the demarcation line and chatted to comrades.
New Zealand veteran Tamai Te Kani, 76, said he was amazed at the economic
progress in South Korea evident in the bustling capital city of Seoul, just
55 km (35 miles) from the border. "When we left here, everything was flat,"
he said. "It was worth my time volunteering." (Additional reporting by Paul
Hug from Clark ends bitterness for Korean war veteran
11.30pm - By IAN STUART
BUSAN - For years after he returned from the Korean and Vietnam wars,
33-year army medical veteran David Kinnaird harboured a bitterness towards a
young anti-war protester. As he marched off to the Vietnam war, the young
woman told him exactly what she thought of the war and his involvement.
Today at a Korean war cemetery that protester -- now the prime minister of
New Zealand, Helen Clark -- put those bitter ghosts of the past to rest in
one of the most moving display of emotion of an already emotional weekend.
The Prime Minister and 30 veterans of the Korean War were in Korea to
commemorate the signing of the armistice on July 27, 1953 to end a war which
took 180,000 allied lives and hundreds of thousands of Korean lives. With
tears still in his eyes after standing at the grave of his mate, Lester
Humm, Dave Kinnaird approached Miss Clark to thank her for bringing him back
to Korea. She stepped forward and put her arms around him. A prime minister
and a war veteran hugged each other for a long emotional minute. Neither
said anything -- both let the tears flow as Mr Kinnaird's body shook with 50
years of pent-up emotion.
The embrace also ended the bitterness which Mr Kinnaird had harboured
towards Miss Clark for more than 30 years from when he last saw her, when he
marched off to the Vietnam War. "She and her mates were young and radical
and they were hailing us down for going to Vietnam," Mr Kinnaird said. The
warm embrace from Helen Clark was as unexpected as it was healing for the
former army corporal. "I didn't expect that -- not from the woman. It
changes my opinion of her. "She was very sincere and how many people would
do that -- a prime minister, but she was young and radical with Tim Shadbolt
and all the other no-hopers in those days." Today Mr Kinnaird had high
praise for Miss Clark. "I'm thrilled with that," he said, apologising for
letting his emotions take over. "It's sad, very sad," he said, his voice
Last night 2000 veterans from all countries that answered the United
Nation's call to repulse the communist North Korean invaders attended a
"Salute to Heroes" banquet in Seoul. Today Miss Clark and the veterans were
at Busan, in South Korea, for a service to remember the 45 New Zealanders
who died of their wounds, accident or disease. The cemetery holds 34 New
Zealand graves. Dave Kinnaird will return to New Zealand and tell the
Wanganui family of his mate, Lester Humm -- "a top bloke' -- that his grave
is being well-looked after by the South Koreans. "I will say I have been
there and your son's grave is being well-looked after, and that I've laid a
poppy on his grave," he said.
Earlier in the service, Miss Clark said New Zealanders were quick to
volunteer to help the South Koreans. It was out of a sense of outrage at the
invasion by the communist North, to follow in the footsteps of relatives who
had served in previous wars, or out of a sense of patriotism. They found a
devastated country and a population that was suffering greatly, she said. In
the battle of Kapyong, in April 1951, they repulsed a force superior in
numbers, with a resulting great loss of life from both sides. More than 6000
New Zealanders served in Korea on land and at sea.
Tomorrow, 50 years to the day after the armistice was signed, the New
Zealand veterans will join thousands of other veterans and VIPs for a
ceremony on the 38th parallel on the de-militarised zone (DMZ). The DMZ is a
border which has divided the Korean peninsula into North Korea and South
Korea since just after World War 2, when Russia occupied the North and the
United States occupied the South.
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