How Kim Jong-un helped me … and he didn’t even know it
For a long time, I have been grateful for and recognised the service of our veterans from the Korean War. Caught between the enormity of World War Two and the controversy of the Vietnam War, Korea came to be known by many as ‘The Forgotten War’. In fact, I even had a school teacher once try and tell me that I was mistaken – there was no war in Korea. I knew better.
My father had served in Korea, flying 201 missions as a fighter pilot. He had been decorated and wounded, not that he was one to mention it. Consequently, every time I spoke of my father’s service, people knew of World War Two, where he’d served as an Army commando, and his post-war stint based out of Hiroshima. However, Korea was always met with a quizzical expression. Thanks to Kim Jong-un, that is no longer the case.
Invariably news reports are now relating the history of the conflict on the Korean Peninsula as they describe the current events and missile launches taking place. They relate how tension had been brewing on the Korean Peninsula since 1945 when Japan surrendered the territory they had previously occupied for thirty-five years. Initially, the United Nations moved towards re-unification, however, just as Berlin had been split into ‘East and West’ in the wake of World War Two, Korea became divided into North and South along the 38th parallel of latitude.
To the north of the 38th parallel existed Stalin-backed communist rule, while to the south, President Truman of the United States supported a democratic republic. The two world powers stared each other down and the Korean Peninsula was the stage. Stalin bet that Truman wouldn’t risk nuclear war over such a remote peninsula and before sunrise on the 25th of June 1950, the North invaded the South. Stalin was wrong.
My father served there through 1951 and 1952 and was stationed not far from Seoul at an air base in Kimpo. I have detailed his service in my book, ‘Without Precedent’ and until now, many have told me that it was their first glimpse into the Korean War.
While we all hold out that peace will prevail on the Korean Peninsula, at least now the efforts of our veterans of the Korean War may not be as forgotten, thanks to Kim-Jong-un.
Lest We Forget.