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A Study on the KATUSA in the Korean War

Moon, Kwan-hyun 1

1연합뉴스

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ABSTRACT

It is a well documented fact that the Republic of Korea(ROK) Army service members took part in various battles during the Korean War, including the 1950 Incheon Amphibious Landing Operations, as the Korean Augmentation Troops to the United States(US) Army(KATUSA). Since then, the KATUSA program as become a key element of the alliance between the ROK and the US that bridges the two nations. However, little is known about the fact that the ROK service members also fought in the war hand-in-hand with forces from other nations that sent troops to the United Nations Command(UNC), such as France, Belgium, Australia, the Netherlands and nations of the British Commonwealth. The nations forming the British Commonwealth used to call those ROK troops assigned to their units as the Korean Augmentation Troops to the Commonwealth Division(KATCOM) to define them from those assigned to the US Army. Considering these facts, one can safely assume the ROK troops were assigned to most of nations of the UN Allied, but it was difficult to find their traces as the Army Headquarters maintain few documents of the US personnel office, which was responsible for the handling of issues related to the KATUSA program. In many cases, those ROK soldiers, who were assigned to the UN Allied Forces, also did not understand why they were asked to fight with foreign troops who used different languages and weapon system and had different color of skin. Some of those troops used to call themselves “the UN student soldiers” as most of them were selected for their high academic background. Still, it was confirmed for fist time while researching for this paper that Australia and the Netherlands awarded medals to the ROK service members that fought in the war with their forces while Belgium engraved the names of their ROK augmenters along with the names of their own troops in its Korean War Memorial Monument. The Korean War marks a significant page in the history of the UN, in which the world body defended a democratic nation from a communist invasion by forming a multi-national coalition for the first time since it was established on October 24, 1945. The ROK troops assigned to the UN Forces were a vital element in that historic process. Yet, the studies about the Korean War have been focused too much on the US, its role and its achievements, thus neglecting the deeds of the UN and other countries of the UNC.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.