The UN Cemetary in Busan


Within walking distance of my hostel in Busan is the UN Cemetary. It is THE United National Cemetary since it is the only United Nations Cemetary in the whole world.

The map shows that Busan is on the southeastern tip of South Korea

On June 25th, 1950, which is when the ‘June 25th War’ started (though it’s known to English speakers as the ‘Korean War’), North Korea invaded South Korea. Since North Korea had a much stronger military at that time, the invasion was swift, and within a short period of time North Korea had conquered most of South Korea. That said, it should be noted that the invasion did not happen as fast as Kim Il-sung had expected since, even in their state of disarray and with inferior weaponry, the South Korea military still put up some resistance, and the US Army 24th Infantry Division had come from Japan quickly.

A map of the Busan Perimeter (also known as the Nakdong River Defense Line)

A map of the Busan Perimeter (also known as the Nakdong River Defense Line)

The 24th Infantry Division suffered heavy losses before and during the Battle of Daejeon, but the battle delayed the North Korean military long enough to give US troops time establish the Nakdong Defence Line / Busan Perimeter. The defense perimeter was so strong, with more and more UN troops and supplies coming in, that it exhausted the North Korean army. After the Incheon landing, the greatly weakened North Korean forces had to retreat, and the South Korean / UN forces took back all of South Korea.


It is worth remembering that the United Nations was new in 1950. The UN had only been established in 1945. Learning the lessons of the League of Nations, the UN did have the power to assemble military forces, but the June 25th war was the first time this power was actually put into use. This war was important for establishing how the UN should operate in a war.

Busan was the command center of the UN troops in South Korea. Nearly all UN troops and supplies coming from outside came into Korea through Busan Port. Furthermore, since Busan was the only place which was reasonably safe for UN troops during the entire course of the war, it was where the UN buried its dead.


2,300 men from 11 different countries are buried in the UN cemetary. A few wives of the soldiers have also been buried here. This is only a small fraction of the UN troops who died in the war – many bodies (including most dead American soldiers) were returned to their country of origin, and some bodies were never recovered.

There is a photo exhibit inside the cemetery, mostly photos of UN troops during the war, with some letters.

There is a wall of rememberance which names every UN troop who died in the war, organized by nation. The large majority of the troops who died came from the United States. The names of the US dead are divided by state, and many states have more dead than most countries who participated in the war on the behalf of the UN.

It is a solemn place.

The South Korean government set aside this land permanently, to honor the people who came from around the world and sacrificed their lives to save South Korea.



About Sara K.

Sara K. is an aromantic asexual from California who has previously lived in Taiwan. She blogs at the notes which do not fit, has previously been a contributor at Manga Bookshelf, and has written guest posts for Hacking Chinese. She enjoys reading, travel, live theatre, learning languages, and gardening.
This entry was posted in City, Gyeongsangnam, Modern History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The UN Cemetary in Busan

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