28 Jul 2013

Service marks Korean War armistice

5:48 am on 28 July 2013

A national commemoration service marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice, has been held in Wellington on Saturday morning at the National War Memorial.

Those attending included Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae, military personnel, diplomats, politicians and veterans.

One veteran, Gordon Menzies says he found Saturday's service a very emotional experience.

"You only hope that young people will heed the message and realise that war is not an answer," he said.

Mr Menzies, 93, was a gunner during the Korean war.

North Korean troops invaded South Korea on 25 June, 1950.

About 6000 New Zealand personnel served in the Korean War: 45 men lost their lives, 79 were wounded and one was taken prisoner and held in North Korea for 18 months before being released.

Most served with K-Force, which was not fully withdrawn until July 1957, but others were aboard New Zealand navy vessels.

After lengthy negotiations an armistice was signed in Panmunjom on 27 July, 1953. Twelve hours later the fighting ended. However, as yet there is no formal end to the war.

A delegation of 29 New Zealand veterans is also in South Korea to mark the occasion.

And Prime Minister John Key, spoke at a ceremony in the capital Seoul on Saturday saying Korea is still a divided nation.

He is urging North Korea to work constructively with the Republic of Korea and the international community for peace.