While tensions on the Korean peninsula remain high the historic bonds between the U.S. and South Korea remain as important as ever.
Posco, the South Korean steel company which has an office in Johns Creek, has been raising the awareness of the interdependence of the two nations by producing commemorative plaques Korean War veterans can attach to their homes’ entryways.
The plaques are being distributed by the Korean government through its Atlanta-based consulate general with jurisdiction over Georgia, five other Southeastern states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Consul General Young-jun Kim told Global Atlanta “Veterans are very important for Koreans. When they were fighting there, Korea was one of the poorest countries. Without their assistance and participation Korea would not be what it is today.”
Korean and U.S. flags are crossed on the plaque under the emblem of the consulate general. The plaque also says in large capital letters KOREAN WAR VETERAN so that anyone entering a veteran’s home won’t miss it. Directly below there is a graphic of the Korean peninsula and the salutation, “1950-1953 We will always remember our hero.”
The plaques, of course, are made of Posco steel. Posco and Hyundai Steel Co. Ltd. are the two largest exporters of South Korean steel to the U.S., which represents less than 5 percent of their exports worldwide and are not substantially affected by U.S. steel tariffs.
Given that 75,000 Georgians fought in the Korean War and 740 Georgians were killed in action with 1,040 wounded and 158 still unaccounted for, the Georgia Department of Veterans Service has backed honor ceremonies where veterans each receive a Republic of Korea’s Ambassador for Peace Medal and Georgia’s Korean War Veteran Certificate of Honor, which is signed by Gov. Brian Kemp and Mike Roby, the department’s commissioner.
The ceremonies have been open to all veterans with honorable service during the Korean War from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953. Veterans who participated in the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations through the end of 1955 also have been eligible to participate.
Honor ceremonies for Korean veterans have been held in Montgomery, Ala., and Decatur, Ga. A ceremony is to be held in Tampa, Fla., on June 25.
Mr. Roby told Global Atlanta that the Korean ceremonies are in line with those held for Vietnam veterans and the veterans of other wars in which the U.S. has been involved.
The Korean War was never officially recognized by the U.S. government and often has been referred to as “the forgotten war.” But with 1,789,000 U.S. service members deployed to Korea between 1950-53, including his father, Mr. Roby said, it is time for their service to be recognized, especially now as many enter their late 80s.
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