SEOUL, July 17 (Yonhap) — National Assembly Speaker Rep. Park Byeong-seug on Friday proposed talks with his North Korean counterpart to discuss ways to enhance peace and cooperation between the two countries.
The dialogue offer by Park, who left the ruling Democratic Party last month to serve as the assembly speaker, came as inter-Korean relations are stalemated after the North’s provocative detonation of an inter-Korean liaison office in its territory a month earlier.
“The arbiters of the Korean Peninsula’s fate should be South and North Korea … As the first step to that end, (I) officially propose inter-Korean assembly talks to the representative of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly,” Park said in his speech marking the 72nd anniversary of the establishment of South Korea’s Constitution.
“I am prepared to discuss inter-Korean relations and issues sincerely, with an open mind, at any time and in any place,” Park said.
“Let us (meet) to declare a commitment to peace on the peninsula and coprosperity and find ways to institutionally back up inter-Korean relations,” Park said.
The assembly speaker also said he wishes to discuss inter-Korean cooperation in sectors like disease prevention, health, agriculture and forestry as well as railroads linking the countries during the envisioned talks.
SEOUL, July 17 (Yonhap) — Two South Korean destroyers and hundreds of troops will depart for Hawaii this week to participate in a U.S.-led multinational maritime exercise slated to kick off next month, the Navy said Friday.
The 7,600-ton Aegis destroyer Seoae Ryu Sung-ryong and the 4,400-ton Chungmugong Yi Sun-shin will leave a port in the southern island of Jeju on Saturday to take part in the biannual Rim of the Pacific exercise (RIMPAC) scheduled for Aug. 17-31.
Along with the two destroyers, South Korea is sending two Lynx naval choppers and 570 service members for the exercise where Col. Kim Sung-hwan will serve as the Combined Task Force (CTF) commander.
In 2018, South Korea sent a submarine, a patrol plane and some 700 troops along with destroyers, but it is sending smaller forces this year as the upcoming exercise has been scaled down due to coronavirus concerns.
This year, land and shore-based training and social events on shore will not take place.
The Navy said all of its troops taking part in the exercise have been staying inside the vessels for the past two weeks, and have tested negative for the virus on Saturday.
“The exercise is expected to boost the operational capability of combined forces and the ability to carry out combined operations to improve joint response to various maritime security situations,” the colonel said.
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CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — The number of coronavirus-infected American service members traveling to South Korea from the United States mounted with 14 new cases over the past week, the military said Thursday.
South Korea has expressed concern over the growing numbers, although U.S. Forces Korea insists that mandatory testing and two-week quarantine procedures have helped contain the problem.
A service member receives a coronavirus test kit within hours of arriving at Osan Air Base, South Korea, Tuesday, July 14, 2020.MATTHEW KEELER/STARS AND STRIPES
“None of the arrivals have interacted with anyone residing in the local community due to USFK’s aggressive preventative control measures,” the command said.
Nine troops and two dependents tested positive after landing at Osan Air Base on government-chartered flights between July 11-15, USFK said in a press release.
Three other service members tested positive after arriving on separate commercial flights on July 11 and 13, it said.
“All individuals were tested prior to entering quarantine, and have since been transferred to an isolation facility designated for confirmed COVID-19 cases on either Camp Humphreys or Osan Air Base,” it added.
The shuttle buses that carried the affected troops to quarantine barracks and the rooms they occupied all had been disinfected, it said.
The report raised to 88 the total number of cases affiliated with USFK.
The Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said authorities were working with the U.S. to prevent the virus from spreading.
“We’re keeping an eye on it at present,” the agency told Stars and Stripes.
By Choi Soo-hyang
SEOUL/DAEJEON, July 15 (Yonhap) — South Korea held a funeral service Wednesday for Paik Sun-yup, a legendary Korean War hero credited with saving the country from falling under the control of North Korea, with the Army chief vowing to firmly defend the country that Paik saved with “blood, sweat and tears.”
U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Robert Abrams also attended the funeral service held at Asan Medical Center in eastern Seoul, lauding Paik as “a patriot, a soldier’s soldier and one of the founding fathers of our ironclad alliance” between the two countries.
“Farewell friend and rest in peace,” Abrams said.
Also in attendance were Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Park Han-ki and politicians from the ruling and opposition parties. The funeral, presided over by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Suh Wook, was held on a small scale due to coronavirus concerns.
“The general, with his spirit and body, showed what true patriotism is. He was the symbol of South Korean Army and the symbol of the South Korea-U.S. alliance,” Suh said. “We will do our best to firmly defend the Republic of Korea that the general, together with comrades, defended with blood, sweat and tears.”
The funeral for Paik Sun-yup, South Korea’s best-known Korean War hero, is under way at Asan Medical Center in eastern Seoul on July 15, 2020. Paik died on July 10 at age 99. (Yonhap)
Paik, South Korea’s first four-star general, died Friday at age 99.
He is credited with leading key battles during the 1950-53 war, including the battle of Dabudong, or Tabudong, in which his unit successfully stopped invading North Korean troops from moving further south in the southeastern region of Dabudong until U.S.-led U.N. forces arrived in the early months of the war.
That battle prevented the North from taking over the entire Korean Peninsula at the last minute and provided South Korean and U.N. forces with a chance to push back. The war ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula still technically at war.
Clad in a combat uniform similar to one he wore during the war, Paik’s body was buried at the National Cemetery in the central city of Daejeon.
Soils collected from eight former Korean War battlefields were scattered over the coffin during the burial ceremony that was also attended by U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris, Abrams and former military leaders.
Near the cemetery, civic groups for and against his burial at the site held rallies. Police dispatched hundreds of officers to prevent clashes.
Supporters of Paik blasted the government’s decision to bury him at the Daejeon cemetery, arguing that he should be buried at Seoul National Cemetery, where former presidents, war heroes and other top patriots are laid to rest.
Opponents say Paik doesn’t deserve burial at any national cemetery, let alone the Seoul cemetery, citing records he served in a pro-Japanese military force and cracked down on Korean guerilla forces fighting for independence from Japan.
Abrams told members of Paik’s family that the late general “was at the heart and soul of the ROK-U.S. alliance and we are deeply grateful for his service.”
JCS Chairman Park also expressed condolences.
“Carrying on the general’s strict military spirit and dedication to the country and the military, we will maintain a watertight military readiness posture and do our best to fulfill our mission to protect the country and the people,” Park told reporters at the mortuary.
Paik, South Korea’s first four-star general and most renowned war hero, died Friday at age 99. He is credited for bravely leading key battles during the 1950-53 war and contributing greatly to the modernization of South Korea’s armed forces.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun, and other key figures from the political and industrial circles also paid tribute to the late general.
Former USFK commanders also offered their condolences over Paik’s death.
“The passing of General and Ambassador Paik Sun-yup marks the closing of the first 70 years of the ROK-U.S. Alliance, while his life and contributions to the Alliance serve as a great role model for the future of this close and invaluable relationship,” Walter Sharp, who commanded the USFK from 2008 to 2011, said.
John Tilelli, who headed USFK from 1996 to 1999, said Paik was a “soldier’s soldier” and that it is “difficult to put into words the great loss of someone who has meant so much to all of us who served in The Republic of Korea and to me personally.”
“He will be greatly missed and has left a legacy not only for the Korean People but for the United States Military,” James Thurman, USFK commander from 2011 to 2013, said.
Paik’s body will be buried at the national cemetery in the central city of Daejeon on Wednesday.
By Oh Seok-min
SEOUL, July 14 (Yonhap) — South Korea is considering requesting the United States to have its service members and related individuals go through coronavirus testing before their departure for the South amid growing concerns over a surge in imported cases, officials said Tuesday.
This month alone, the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) reported a total of 38 COVID-19 patients, including 11 cases on Monday, all of whom tested positive upon arrival or during their mandatory two-week quarantine period after arrival.
“Residents in Pyeongtaek are anxious about the recent uptrend, and some call for a measure that requires USFK-affiliated people to undergo a virus test before leaving their home country,” an official said. Pyeongtaek is where USFK headquarters are located.
“So the city government asked the Gyeonggi government and the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) to make such a recommendation to the U.S. side, if not making it obligatory,” he added.
Until Monday, the city reported a total of 97 COVID-19 patients, and 60 of them are USFK-related individuals. Across the nation, the total COVID-19 caseload among USFK members stood at 74.
USFK has implemented aggressive measures to stop the spread of the virus, but there has been a growing call for tougher entry procedures for newly assigned service members, another official said.
Currently, foreign arrivals from four high-risk countries — Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan — are required to submit health certificates proving they have tested negative for COVID-19. Health authorities said more could be subject to the requirement according to the virus trend down the road.
“Now is USFK’s troop rotation season and the South Korean and the U.S. authorities are working closely on the virus issue,” another government official said.
In order to relieve anxiety among citizens, the government will also cooperate further with the U.S. military to promote its stringent preventive measures, he added.
All USFK-affiliated individuals arriving in South Korea are required to undergo the virus test and are quarantined for 14 days. Medical personnel administer a second test prior to their release.
“The last organic USFK positive case that originated from on-peninsula was mid-April,” USFK spokesperson Col. Lee Peters said. “The majority of our recently confirmed cases have been asymptomatic and we are catching them on their first test and they are immediately going into isolation after spending only 1-2 days in quarantine.”
The official did not elaborate on further steps to reduce the number of patients among newly assigned members, while noting that the South Korean authorities “are extremely satisfied with our aggressive approach to identifying, containing and preventing the spread of COVID-19.”
Former CFC Commanders and Deputy Commanders met legendary Gen. (Ret.) Paik, Sun Yup. As part of the 1st Former CFC Commander/Deputy Commander Forum in Seoul on Nov 14, 2019, Generals Kwon, Scaparrotti, Tilelli, Sharp, Thurman, and Jung visited the 99 year old General Paik who was the first ROK Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ROK Ambassador to several countries, and an infrastructure pioneer. General Paik helped build the ROK-U.S. Alliance into one of the most important in the world.
The passing of General and Ambassador Paik, Sun-yup marks the closing of the first 70 years of the ROK-U.S. Alliance, while his life and contributions to the Alliance serve as a great role model for the future of this close and invaluable relationship. General Paik’s role in defending South Korea against North Korea starting on June 25, 1950 is of historic importance to both South Korea and the United States. He served as the division commander of the 1st ROK Infantry Division which took the brunt of North Korea’s surprise attack, helped defend the Pusan Perimeter, and led the fight into Pyongyang on October 19, 1950. Later as the first ROK Army Chief of Staff and first ROK Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he worked to build up the post-war ROK military.
After retiring from the ROK military as the country’s first four-star general, he continued in public service as Ambassador to Taiwan, Canada, France, and several other countries. Then he served as ROK Minister of Transportation and launched the construction of the Seoul Subway system. He was also instrumental in the construction of the War Memorial of Korea.
The distinguished and very long history of General Paik’s public service is truly immeasurable and unequaled.
His life serves as an example for future generations to care about the ROK-U.S. Alliance, to work for the Alliance, and to do so with integrity, hard work, and understanding. The members of KDVA are very honored to have known this great man. General (Retired) John Tilelli, the former Commander-in-Chief of the United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, and U.S. Forces Command, captured the essence of General Paik and his legacy for the ROK-U.S. Alliance, “General Paik’s legend goes far beyond his military contributions and battlefield heroics. When I commanded in Korea from 1996 to 1999, his was the voice I sought and heard when we faced challenging situations because he understood both the ROK and U.S. sides, and how we needed to work together. I have lost a most significant friend and mentor in my life, and my heart goes out to his family, the people of South Korea, and those of us who care and love the ROK-U.S. Alliance. He was a National Hero of the Republic of Korea.”
KDVA will carry on General Paik’s legacy and lifetime of work for the Alliance in 2020 and well into the next several generations of people who care for and support the great Alliance.
Paik Sun-yup poses in front of a makeshift barracks in June 1952 when he served as commander of the 2nd Corps.
|Retired Republic of Korea Army Gen. Paik Sun-yup received the honorary commander title August 2013.|
Paik Sun-yup poses in front of a makeshift barracks in June 1952 when he served as commander of the 2nd Corps.