Go to contents

Korean War Dutch veterans to be buried in Korea

Posted September. 22, 2017 08:19,   

Updated September. 22, 2017 09:05

A Dutch Korean War veteran who fought against the Communist Army will rest in peace in Korea, according to his will. The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs announced on Thursday that it will hold a ceremony to mark the handover of the remains at Incheon International Airport on Monday for Johan Theodoor Aldewereld who died at the age of 88 this February. Headed by Minister Pi Woo-jin, the ceremony will be participated by the bereaved and other Dutch veterans.

The late veteran joined the war as a private first class in August 1951 as a soldier of Regiment van Heutsz, and engaged in a fierce battle with the Communist forces, including the most violent battles such as the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge from Sept. 13 to Oct. 13, 1951. He returned to his motherland in July 1952 to discharge, and worked as a businessman. In May 2016, Aldewereld visited Korea for the first time since the Korean War to pay tribute to his comrade Nicholas Frantz Vesertz. Impressed by the remarkable development and respect from the country he risked his life to protect, Aldewereld flew back to the Netherlands and wrote a heartfelt letter of gratitude to the Netherlands Ambassador to Korea Lody Embrechts who later send it to the Korean government.

Before finishing his life on February 4, 2017, Aldewereld left a will saying that he wanted to be “buried in Korean soils where my comrades are sound asleep.” The ministry discussed with the bereaved on holding a ceremony to mark the handover of the remains.

According to the ministry, Aldewereld will become the fifth Korean war foreign veteran who died overseas but came back to Korea to rest their souls, starting with the French veteran Ramon Werber in June 2015. After the ceremony, the remains will be enshrined temporarily at the Seoul National Cemetery, and then be laid to rest at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan on Wednesday.

Dutch visitors comprised of the bereaved and war veterans held a press conference at the remains ceremony, and will visit SNC and the War Memorial of Korea. “When a U.N. forces war veteran wishes to be buried at the Busan cemetery, we will make our utmost efforts for the best and the most respectful ceremony, and continue to strengthen ties with their descendents,” said a ministry official.


Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com