America's Korea, Korea's Vietnam

Author: Charles K. Armstrong


Atrocities committed by American soldiers against Vietnamese civilians during the Vietnam War have once again become an issue of public debate in the United States, yet similar actions by South Korean troops fighting America's war in Vietnam remain virtually unknown in the West. The Republic of Korea (ROK) dispatched more than 300,000 combat troops to Vietnam between 1965 and 1973, but after decades of enforced silence by successive authoritarian governments, Koreans have only recently begun to grapple with the ambiguous legacy of the Vietnam War for South Korea. In the spring and summer of 2000, testimonies in the South Korean media by Korean veterans of the Vietnam War revealed for the first time detailed, extensive accounts of Korean atrocities against Vietnamese civilians. These revelations, and the controversy they triggered within South Korea, bring into bold relief the role of Koreans in America's Vietnam War and the role of the Vietnam War in the political and economic development of South Korea.
Countries: Korea | Vietnam

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December 2001
© 2005 ILO/Falise T.