General who was hero of Korean War denied burial in National Cemetery in Seoul

by WorldTribune Staff, July 19, 2020

Gen. Paik Sun-Yup, a major hero of the Korean War who many refer to as “the father of South Korea’s military,” passed away on July 10 at age 99.

East Asia Research Center’s Tara O tweeted: “General Paik Sun-Yup passed away 2020-7-10, 11 pm. “I’ll lead from the front. If I retreat, shoot me.” He & his troops held the ground near the Pusan Perimeter until GEN McArthur landed at Inchon, turning the tide of the Korean War. Freedom is not free.”

Gen. Paik Sun-Yup

The White House National Security Council noted in a tweet: “#SouthKorea is a prosperous, democratic Republic today thanks to Paik Sun-Yup and other heroes who put everything on the line to defeat Communist invaders in the 1950s. We mourn General Paik’s death at age 99 and salute his legacy.”

No tributes however came from the leftist Moon Jae-In administration which refused to provide a burial plot for Gen. Paik at the main National Cemetery in Seoul’s Dongjak District, the East Asia Research Center reported on July 15.

There have been no official statements from the Moon government regarding Gen. Paik’s death.

The Korean Retired Generals and Admirals Defending the Nation (KORGAD) issued a statement demanding the government bury Gen. Paik at the National Cemetery in Seoul and to promote him posthumously to five-star general.

“Ironically, it was General Paik and President Syngman Rhee, back in 1952 during the Korean War, who decided to construct a national cemetery at Dongjak, Seoul for the soldiers who lost their lives during the Korean War,” the East Asia Research Center report noted. Many of Paik’s fellow Korean War soldiers are buried there, “and it had been his wish to be buried alongside them.”

Instead, Gen. Paik will be buried at the National Cemetery in Daejeon. The government also decided to give Paik the Army Chief of Staff level funeral, which is a 5th level down official funeral by protocol, the report said.

The protocol for official funerals are:

Gookka-jang (national level, e.g., head of state; national hero) (The next level was Gookmin-jang (National Citizen level), but this was merged with higher Gook-jang to make the current Gookka-jang level).
Sahoe-jang (Society level)
For Military, Gookgoon-jang (ROK Military level)
Hapcham-jang (ROK Joint Chief of Staff level)
Chief of Staff funeral, Army/Navy/Air Force (service chief level).

(Note: Seoul’s leftist Mayor Park Won-Soon, who authorities said died on July 10, 2020 by suicide a day after sexual harrassment charges were filed by his former secretary, is receiving Sahoe-jang, 3-levels higher in protocol than the Army Chief of Staff level, at the City Hall.)

Given the downgrading in both the burial plot and the funeral level, the citizens’ groups organized a “Citizens’ Memorial Altar” for South Koreans to pay tribute to Gen. Paik for five days, the report said.

“This is separate from the official funeral set up at the Asan Hospital in Songpa District, Seoul. When the citizens groups first tried to set up a citizen’s memorial altar at Gwanghwamun, about 30 police and 10 Seoul city officials tried to block them from setting up the altar, by saying the Gwanghwamun area belongs to Seoul City, and an assembly there is not possible. Gwanghwamun is a plaza open to the public, and numerous protests, festivals, and other assemblies continuously occur there”

About 25,000 South Koreans visited the altar at Gwanghwamun to bid farewell to the national hero.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation mourned the loss of “a true and noble soldier” and a “true hero,” further stating, “General Paik became the first four-star general of the Korean army and was one of the most important and dedicated pioneers of the Korean armed forces.”

The Korean Defense Veterans Association, a veterans association, expressed, “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.”

Recognizing Gen. Paik’s contribution to the alliance, former ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) commanders have also expressed their condolences and admiration. Gen. John Tilelli called Gen. Paik a “soldiers’ soldier, a hero, and a patriot” and lamented his loss.

Gen. B.B. Bell described Gen. Paik as “the father of South Korea’s military,” who “led to victory combat operations against the invading Korean People’s Army and Chinese forces.” General James Thurman stated General Paik “strengthened the ROK-U.S. alliance and is a true hero and a patriot” and expressed his sadness at losing his friend and mentor. Gen. Vincent Brooks stated he has “for decades admired Gen. Paik and that his death is a great loss to the alliance.”

Meanwhile, on July 13, lawyer and radio host Rho Young-Hee said on her broadcast: “how can he [Gen. Paik] be interred at the National Cemetery, when he won by shooting at North Korea, our fellow minjok (ethnic Koreans)?” and added, “he shouldn’t be buried at the National Cemetery, even the one in Daejeon.”

Netizens responded by criticizing her:

Comment 1: “How can you denounce [General Paik], who risked his life to defend our country?…Do you think he should not have shot and let the country be communized?”

Comment 2: “So many citizens and the children of the citizens, who were massacred by and suffered under the North Korean military when North Korea invaded South Korea, are listening. Is that something you can really say?

Comment 3: “Isn’t the purpose of the National Cemetery to bury the soldiers who fought in the Korean War?”

Comment 4: “If you really want to focus on minjok, why not go to North Korea and broadcast there?”

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