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Heroism of the Little Tigers

After the outbreak of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, Thailand was one of the first countries to send its troops to help defend the Republic of Korea. The 21st Royal Thai Regiment, which is now the 21st Infantry Regiment (the Queen’s Guard), consisting of three infantry battalions, was dispatched to the Republic of Korea under the U.N. force, embarking at Busan on Nov. 7, 1950.

The First Rotation Company joined the battle in Pyongyang. The Third Rotation Company fought at the battle of Pork Chop Hill, claiming a victory that earned Thai soldiers the honourable sobriquet of “Little Tigers” as well as “Thailand Number One.” Apart from being recognized by their commendable bravery, Thai soldiers were so much admired by local South Koreans for their amicable nature, genuine sincerity and willingness to render all possible assistance, thereby creating strong bonds of long-lasting friendship ever since.

Out of 11,786 Thai soldiers who fought under the U.N. Command during and after the period of the Korean War, 136 were killed in action and over 300 wounded.

Today, Thai Soldier Memorials were especially established to pay tribute to the heroic sacrifices made by the Thai soldiers during the Korean War and Thailand’s unfaltering commitment to the U.N. in safeguarding peace and security of the Republic of Korea. In 1974, the Government of the Republic of Korea built a monument and a Thai pavilion in Pocheon City to honor the Thai soldiers who took part in the Korean War. Moreover, on Nov. 4, 2008, the Royal Thai Embassy in Seoul, with the cooperation from the Office of Defense Attaché, hosted the opening ceremony of the Thai Soldier Memorial at the U.N. Memorial Cemetery in Korea in the city of Busan. Apart from the Thai Soldier Memorials, the Thai-Korean Friendship Bridge at the UNMCK, which was originally donated to UNMCK by the Royal Thai Government in 1976, has ever since became the symbol of strong bonds of friendship and goodwill between the two countries.

Nowadays, the Thai Government has maintained the assignment of one military officer as liaison officer at the Armistice Committee and six soldiers as members of the U.N. Command Honor Guard Company in Seoul, in order to contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula. Moreover, Thailand still continues to work closely with the international community to ensure the long-term peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and sincerely hopes that the reconciliation process will help increase the momentum toward peaceful resolution in the Korean Peninsula in parallel with the six-party talks process.

There is an old saying, “A Friend in need is a friend indeed.” For half a century, Thailand and the Republic of Korea have developed their close and cordial ties in all fields of cooperation, which stems from military and security cooperation during the Korean War. The two countries are now at a remarkable milestone of their relations as the two countries continue to work hand in hand to meet the new global challenges which lie ahead.

Chaiyong Satjipanon
Ambassador of Thailand
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Korea Herald daum