International Relations Prelims cum Mains

Korean War memorial to be built in Delhi

The News

  • A Korean War memorial will be built in New Delhi to commemorate India’s role in the war which ended in an armistice in 1953.
  • The proposal was initiated by the Indian Korean War Veterans Association.


Korean War: Historical Background

  • The beginning of the cold war saw the Soviet dispensation backing a communist regime in Korean peninsula’s Northern region.
  • But the US faction was backing a liberal government that eventually took control of the southern part of the peninsula.
  • The inter-Korean war lasted for three years between 1950 and 1953, which was a proxy war between USSR and the US.
  • Although a truce was reached in 1953 through the “Armistice Agreement”, both Korean regimes never officially ended the war till recently.
  • The agreement divided the Korean peninsula into two i.e North Korea and South Korea along the 38th Parallel (latitude) and also provided for neutral international peace patrol.
  • There were 21 countries which participated in the Korean War from 1950-53 of which 16 countries had sent combat troops.


India’s role in Korean War

  • India under Nehru was actively involved in negotiating peace in the Korean peninsula by engaging all the major stakeholders – US, USSR and China.
  • Diplomacy
    • In late 1952, the Indian resolution on Korea was adopted at the UN with unanimous non-Soviet support.
    • But India rightly recognized any deal without the Soviets will fail and immediately flung into action to get them on board, which happened in 1953.
    • Ultimately, despite the rough international political climate, India succeeded in building consensus – which precipitated in the “Armistice Agreement”.
  • NNRC
    • One of the follow-up actions to the Armistice Agreement was the establishment of a Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission (NNRC).
    • NNRC was to decide on the fate of over 20,000 prisoners of war from both sides and India was chosen as the Chair of the NNRC.
    • NNRC’s tenure ended in early 1954, and the Indian forces were praised internationally for executing the tough stabilising operations successfully.
  • A UN Command led by an Englishman and a Custodian Force from India (headed by Lt.Gen Thimayya) was also deployed in the inter-Korean border.
  • Indian Abode
    • At the end of its work, the NNRC was left with over 80 prisoners of war who didn’t want to go to either of the Koreas.
    • As an interim arrangement, Nehru decided to grant them abode in India until the UN directive on their request is pronounced.
    • Although most settled in foreign destination like Latin America, some did stay back in India and lived their entire lives here.
  • India sent medical teams and a custodian force to deal with the Prisoners of War (PoW).
  • Therefore, India contributed in a peaceful manner to end the Korean War.

Note As of now, there are Korean War memorials in about 20 countries around the world which had played a role in the war.

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