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Victorious Battle of Dabudong responsible for today’s free KoreaChilgok hosts 3rdNakdong River World Peace Culture Festival

The Republic of Korea (ROK),a prosperous,free, democratic country with theworld’s 13th largest economy, wouldn’t be existing today but for the heroic citizens of the Chilgok County in Gyeongsangnam-do Province, some 166 miles southeast of Seoul?as well as, of course, the United States and United Nations Forces.
The citizens of the county, together with the ROK, US and UN Forces fought the fiercest battle of the Korean War (1950-3) in the Dabudong Village of the Chilgok County north of the Nakdong River on Aug. 13-Sept. 24, 1950, and succeeded in repelling the North Korean invasion forces.
The entire territory of the ROK had been occupied by the fully armed North Korean invasion Armed Forces with the sole exception of the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula within three months of the war, and Seoul, the capital city of the ROK, fell in the hands of the North Korean forces within three days after Marshal Kim Il-sung of North Korea started the war.
In celebration of this fateful and yet successful Battle of Dabudong, the Chilgok County and the Gyeongsangnam-do Province host the ‘3rd Nakdong River World Peace Culture Festival’ beginning on Oct. 15, 2015 and running through Oct. 18 on the theme of “Thank You Chilgok County!” and “Without Chilgok There Would be No Republic of Korea!”
Ambassadors and their spouses are invited to attend the opening ceremony of one of the most meaningful festivals of the ROK together with the ranking officials of the central and local governments as well as military leaders of Korea and the United Nations Forces.
The Festival has a wide variety of interesting events and programs, including presentation of various cultural performances by noted actresses and actors, singers and other performing artists.
This year the celebration events will be much larger than those of last year with a lot of experience programs.
In contrast with the colorful cultural performances presented by noted actors and actresses as well as singers against the backdrop of massive fireworks, there will be a special event where the defense-purpose demolition of the Waegwan Railroad Bridge will be re-enacted through video images.
The Waegwan Bridge had to be destroyed on Aug. 3, 1950 to stop the south-ward surge of the North Korean Forces. However, it was a great tragedy where a lot of refuges died. Re-enactment of the demolition of the Waegwan Bridge will provide the viewers with the images of the pains and difficulties the refugees
One of the most interesting programs of the Festival is the ‘Real Theme Park of the Nakdong-gang River Defense Line’ offers the visitors with an experience where the visitors get the feeling as if they were travelling between the time of the Battle and present riding a ‘Time Machine.’
The actors and actresses performing in the Experience Program using the audio-visual special effects are expected to make the visitors feel as if they were actual in the battle ground of 65 6ears ago when student volunteers fought side by side with the regular soldiers for the defense of the Nakdong River.
Mayor Beak Sun-Ki of Chigoe Country said, “The 3rdNekton River World Peace Culture Festival” which is held at the Chilgok County of Gyeongsangnam-do will be a vivid reminder the fiercest battle of the Korean War and will lead to a common agreement in Korea and around the world to prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy and to promote peace on the globe.”
“Together with the Battle of Dabudong that lasted for 55 days from Aug. 1 to Sept. 25,” said Mayor Baek, “there were the famous ‘Hill 328 Hand-to-Hand Fighting’ and ‘Yuhak-san Battle’ where the citizens of the Chilgok County defended in blood together with the ROK, US and UNF troops.”

Summary of the Battle of Dabudong:
The most decisive battle broke out at Dabudong Village in the Chilgok County of Gyeongsangnam-do Province, 175 miles southeast of Seoul, in August 1950, where the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) soldiers repelled the North Korean (NK) aggressors along the Nakdong River Defense Line in the area with the help and support of the United States Armed Forces and the armed forces of 15 other members countries of the United Nations.
In the fateful month of August 1950, the ROK (South Korea) was literally on the verge of possible collapse and extinction because the invading North Korean People’s Army (NKPA), as was briefly mentioned earlier, had occupied all the territorial space of the ROK with the sole exception of the perimeters of the Daegu-Busan Region that was completely encircled by the NKPA troops.
At the pre-dawn hour of 4 a.m. on Sunday June 25, 1950, the NKPA started an unwarned all-out invasion of the ROK in the South along the entire stretch of the border line of the 38th parallel dealing a massive artillery fire on the ROK defense positions.
At the same time the YAK fighter aircraft of the North Korean Air Force invaded the Seoul airspace and bombed the Gimpo Airport on the outskirts of Seoul and dealt strafing attacks on the streets in the heart of Seoul.
The ROK was completely taken by surprise. There had been an extensive and intensive peace offensive by the North Korean regime toward the ROK in the South with the result that the military security precautions in the ROK were lifted on the mid-night of June 23, two days before the date of the North Korean invasion, and more than one third of the total personnel strength of the ROK Armed Forces were given a weekend leave. In other words, North Korea started its military invasion against the ROK when one third of the entire ROK Armed Forces personnel were off duty on that fateful Sunday.
The ROK Armed Forces were miserably outnumbered by the invading North Korean forces. The ROK had no tanks nor any fighter aircraft (except 22 trainers). The ROK Armed Forces had only 27 small armored vehicles and small-caliber artillery guns.
Little wonder, Seoul, its capital city, fell within three days after North Korea started invasion.
The North Korean Armed Forces thenceforth moved deep into South Korea almost unchallenged, and occupied most of the land space with the sole exception of the perimeters of the Daegu and Busan in the southeastern corner of the Korean peninsula.
Then came the fateful Battle of Dabudong near Daegu (now one of the principal metropolitan cities), which was so important and critical that it could decide on the fate of the Republic of Korea.
Marshal Kim Il-sung of the North Korean regime, who also was the supreme commander of the NKPA, personally visited the frontline troops of the NKPA who were deployed to attack Dabudong to encourage his troops to “crush the ROK and UN Armed Forces and bury them under the sea off the Busan Port.”
The ROK Army 1st Division fought against three infantry divisions of the NKPA in the Dabudong region to protect the Daegu City from an all-out offensive carried out by the outnumbering three NKPA divisions trying to capture Daegu.
The ROK Army and the enemy had extremely fierce fighting against each other in the Yuhak-san Combat, Hill 328 Combat, Hill 837 Combat, Hill 674 Combat, the ‘Bowling Alley’ Combat and the Gasan Mountain Fortress Combat. It was the fiercest battle of the Korean War in which the Yuhak-san Mountain positions changed their owners nine times and Hill 328 as many as 15 times.
The then Brig. Gen. Paik Sun-yup, commanding general of the ROKA 1st Infantry Division, badly needed reinforcements to defend the Dabudong Line and asked 8th US Army Commander Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker for reinforcements. Lt. Gen. Walker promptly heeded his request and sent the 23rd Regiment commanded by Col. John H. Michaelis. Paik also got one regiment from the ROK Army Headquarters. With these reinforcements, the ROKA 1st Division successfully staved off the August and September offensives of the NKPA by crushing the enemy invaders.
During the 55-day Battle of Dabudong, the NKPA suffered casualties of 24,000 dead, wounded or missing, while the ROK and US defenders lost over 10,000 killed, wounded or missing.
The three invading NKPA divisions were badly mauled sustaining a fatal defeat. The Battle of Dabudong is recorded as one of the greatest battles of the Korean War.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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