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Korean War of 1953 & India’s Role



  • G.S. Paper 2

Why in news?

  • The relationship between “North and South Korea” has evolved drastically past months from “complete hostility to strong cooperation”.
  • At this juncture, it is important to note that India did play a vital role in effectuating the “Armistice Agreement, 1953”, that ended the Korean War.

A brief history of what happened:-

  • The beginning of the cold war saw the Soviet dispensation backing a communist regime in Korean peninsula’s Northern region.
  • But the US faction was backing a liberal government that eventually took control of the southern part of the peninsula.
  • The inter-Korean war lasted for three years between 1950 and 1953, which was a proxy war between USSR and the US.
  • Although a truce was reached in 1953 through the “Armistice Agreement”, both Korean regimes never officially ended the war till recently.
  • The agreement divided the Korean peninsula into two along the 38th Parallel (latitude) and also provided for neutral international peace patrol.

What role did India play?

  • India under Nehru was actively involved in negotiating peace in the Korean peninsula by engaging all the major stakeholders – US, USSR and China.
  • Diplomacy – In late 1952, the Indian resolution on Korea was adopted at the UN with unanimous non-Soviet support.
  • But India rightly recognized any deal without the Soviets will fail and immediately flung into action to get them on board, which happened in 1953.
  • Ultimately, despite the rough international political climate, India succeeded in building consensus – which precipitated in the “Armistice Agreement”.
  • Effectuation – One of the follow-up actions to the Armistice Agreement was the establishment of a Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission (NNRC).
  • NNRC was to decide on the fate of over 20,000 prisoners of war from both sides and India was chosen as the Chair of the NNRC.
  • NNRC also had “Poland and Czechoslovakia” representing the Communist bloc, and “Sweden and Switzerland” represented the Western world.
  • A UN Command led by an Englishman and a Custodian Force from India (headed by Lt.Gen Thimayya) was also deployed in the inter-Korean border.
  • NNRC’s tenure ended in early 1954, and the Indian forces were praised internationally for executing the tough stabilising operations successfully.
  • Indian Abode – At the end of its work, the NNRC was left with over 80 prisoners of war who didn’t want to go to either of the Koreas.
  • As an interim arrangement, Nehru decided to grant them abode in India until the UN directive on their request is pronounced.
  • Although most settled in foreign destination like Latin America, some did stay back in India and lived their entire lives here.

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