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Korean War veterans visit S. Korea for 60th anniversary of armistice

Hundreds of Korean War veterans and bereaved families of fallen soldiers arrived in South Korea on Monday to attend commemorative events marking the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the three-year conflict.

The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs said it has invited about 300 veterans from four Commonwealth countries ― England, Canada, Australia and New Zealand ― and families of those who sacrificed their lives to recognize their contributions.

Some 95,000 soldiers from Commonwealth nations fought in the war against North Korea and about 1,750 lost their lives, according to the ministry.

During the five-day visit, the participants will attend ceremonies of remembrance at the National Cemetery in Seoul, and visit the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in the southern port city of Busan, where many of their fallen comrades are buried.

They will also observe an event that commemorates the 62nd anniversary of the Battle of Gapyeong, northeast of Seoul. During the 1952 fight, soldiers successfully defended a hilltop position against Chinese forces that far outnumbered them.

Canadian Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney joined the tour of 26 veterans as Canada has declared 2013 as the Year of the Korean War Veteran. About 26,000 Canadians took part in the conflict and 516 were killed.

A group of 12 veterans from Ireland, which was non-U.N. state at the time of war, also joined the group in a special dedication of a war memorial that recalls the Battle of Happy Valley, which took place on the nights of Jan. 3-4, 1951.

In that battle, U.N. soldiers held back an advancing Chinese Army, which aided in the evacuation of Seoul. The Royal Ulster Rifles, supported by the 8th Kings Royal Irish Hussars and the Royal Artillery, sustained significant losses during the fighting, the ministry said.

Two Koreas technically remain at war as the Korean War ended in an armistice agreement, not a peace treaty. (Yonhap News)
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