Go to contents

ROK Navy Holds Memorial Service for Fallen Servicemen Three Years after West Sea Battle

ROK Navy Holds Memorial Service for Fallen Servicemen Three Years after West Sea Battle

Posted June. 25, 2005 06:06,   


June 29 marks the three years since six Korean navy soldiers who were young and blooming like flowers lost their lives in the West Sea while fighting a North Korean patrol boat that invaded the NLL (Northern Limit Line).

The navy held a sea memorial service on the sea around Incheon in memory of the six brave soldiers who died in the engagement on June 24, a day before the 55th anniversary of the 6.25 Korea War. The memorial service was held on May 18, which, according to the lunar calendar, was when the West Sea Battle broke out, has a meaning of “finishing of mourning” as one of the funeral procedures.

Your Precious Sacrifice will be Engraved in our Memories Forever

Around 2:00 p.m. on that day, a “euljimundeok” ship, a 3,000 ton navy destroyer, stopped 20 miles southwest of the site where the memorial service was held. This sea area is a place where a high-speed patrol boat, “Chamsuri 357,” carrying six soldiers including Yoon Young-ha, a lieutenant commander who died from shooting by North Korean soldiers during the shoot-out, engaged in a battle with a North Korean naval vessel.

The father of the late Lt. Commander Yoon let out a deep sigh as Commodore Lim Han-gyu, the navy`s second combat leader, read a funeral oration for the deceased servicemen. As soon as a floral tribute began, members of the 14 bereaved families present burst into tears that had been held back during an earlier silent tribute in honor of the fallen. A mother of one of the six dead soldiers collapsed on the ground and cried, “My son, how could you leave me like that, how can I live without you?” after scattering the petals of chrysanthemum over the sea.

The bereaved families spoke out about the dissatisfaction they have been suppressing toward the government’s lack of concern and cold treatment towards the soldiers who fought for their country and died in battle.

Han Jin-bok, father of the late staff sergeant Han Sang-guk, raised his voice saying, “My daughter in-law left for the U.S. saying she hates Korea indeed. I really doubt whether this country really cares about its people, as they held a memorial service three years after the soldiers died.”

First Lieutenant Lee Hui-wan who lost his right leg in the battle said, “I feel heartsick that six heroic soldiers who lost their lives protecting their country seem to be disappearing from people’s memories.” Lee is currently taking a master’s course in psychology at Seoul National University after getting married in December.

The bereaved families held a Buddhist ceremony for the repose of souls at the building containing a statue of Buddha within the compound of the Naval second fleet command located in Gyeonggi province, where memorial tablets of the six soldiers are enshrined, before holding a memorial service.

However, no government official or politician attended the ceremony.

Kum-Chun Hwang kchwang@donga.com