Late Dutch Korean War vet to be laid to rest in Korea

By Yonhap
  • Published : Sept 21, 2017 - 15:33
  • Updated : Sept 21, 2017 - 15:33
The cremated remains of a Dutch veteran, who fought for South Korea during the 1950-1953 Korean War, will be buried in the country next week in accordance with his wishes, the veterans affairs ministry said Thursday.

"A ceremony to receive the remains of the late Johan Theodoor Aldewereld of the Netherlands, who participated in the Korean War as a UN soldier, will be held at Incheon International Airport on Monday, with the minister presiding over it," the ministry said.

The remains will be laid to rest at the UN Memorial Park in Busan on Wednesday after being provisionally laid in state at the National Cemetery in Seoul, according to the ministry.

Aldewereld came to Korea as a private first class in August 1951, when the Korean War was at its peak. 

Johan Theodoor Aldewereld (Yonhap)

He returned home to be discharged in July 1952 after engaging in fierce battles, including a hand-to-hand fight against North Korean soldiers in Gangwon Province.

He revisited South Korea for the first time in decades in May last year at the ministry's invitation. For many years, the ministry has run a program to invite foreign Korean War veterans to visit the nation again as a token of the country's thanks for their sacrifices.

After returning home from the trip, the Dutchman sent his nation's ambassador to South Korea, Lody Embrechts, a letter containing his appreciation for the Korean government, as he was deeply touched by the immense economic development of South Korea from the ruins of war and the government's respectful treatment of foreign veterans.

He died in February at 88, leaving a will that stipulated his ashes be "buried in the Republic of Korea where my comrades lie in eternal sleep."

A Dutch delegation, including bereaved family members and fellow veterans, is scheduled to hold a news conference during a visit to the country that will take place by Oct. 1, the ministry said.

Aldewereld is the sixth foreign veteran to have requested a burial at the UN Memorial Park after dying in his home country. The French veteran Raymond Bernard was the first in May 2015.

The peace park in the nation's largest port city is the final resting place for 2,300 other UN troops. During the war, the Netherlands and 15 other countries fought for the South against the invading North under the UN flag.

"We'll continue to provide the correct protocol and reception at a government level when foreign Korean War veterans want to be buried at the memorial park after their death," the ministry said. (Yonhap)