About a dozen former soldiers, sailors and marines were honored in a ceremony Monday marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.
The event was hosted by, and took place in, the Oriental House Restaurant in Neosho. It was the brainchild of John Cho and his wife, Soo Mee Cho, who worked with the National Unification Advisory Council, Chicago chapter, and the Federation of Midwest Korean-American Associations USA. The Chos said they organized the event as a way of saying thanks for the armed forces who liberated their countrymen from the North Koreans and its Communistic government.
Dr. Kyung Soo Kim, a retired University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, professor, told those assembled how his father, a medical doctor, had been rounded up by the North Koreans and pressed into service, forced to establish a field hospital for the Communist army.
Meanwhile, Kim, his mother, and five siblings fled to a refugee camp. He was 15 at the time.
"As we settled in a few days at the refugee camp, my father showed up in a North Korean medical officer's uniform," Kim said. "You will remember how Red China joined the North Koreans. Their numbers were so large, and the weather was so cold."
After the Chinese and North Korean troops withdrew, the refugees fled to the south to escape the Communists, Kim said. They tried to board a refugee ship, but it wasn't large enough to accommodate them. But with the help of U.S. and South Korean forces, they were able to flee to safety.
A few years later, Kim made his way to the United States and entered college. He became a professor in the department of plant pathology at the University of Arkansas and raised a family. Like the Chos, one of his sons became a medical doctor.
"I thank you from the bottom of my heart," he said.
Welcoming the group was Youngsik Dokko, vice president of the Federation of Midwest Korean-American Associations USA. Dokko, of Overland Park, Kan., thanked the veterans for helping to set their country's future free from Communism.
"Thank you for all you have done and may God bless all of you and your families," he said.
Opening the ceremonies with prayer was the Rev. Ju-Heon Lyu, pastor of the First Korean Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Mo. Min Manis served as the program's emcee and moderator.
Veterans received a certificate from those two groups as well as a medal, a coin, and a small Korean flag. They were also treated to a free all-you-can eat dinner at the restaurant.
The Korean War lasted just three years, form 1950 to 1953, yet there were more than 37,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors and marines killed. Approximately 500,000 South Korean civilians and military personnel met their deaths during the war.
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