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Kiwi Personnel Observe Armistice Day In S Korea

New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa

Media Release

29 July 2008

Kiwi Defence Personnel Observe Armistice Day In South Korea

Four New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel currently serving in South Korea have marked the day commemorating the reason they are there.

Armistice Day was observed on Saturday 27 July at Pan Mun Jeom (“Peace Village”) in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), and the Kiwis who are in South Korea with the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC) attended the service commemorating 55 years of relative peace between North and South Korea.

“Our role is to monitor the Armistice between North and South Korea, and investigate any alleged violations,” said Major Nigel Gattsche, a Kiwi UNCMAC Operations Officer based at Inchon.

New Zealand is the third largest nation of 16 who are represented on the Armistice Commission.

Three of the Kiwi contingent monitor activity in the Demilitarized Zone while the fourth NZDF member, Colonel Harry Cockburn, also acts as the contingent’s Senior National Officer and the New Zealand Defence Attache in Seoul.

ENDS


Background:

The United Nations, China and North Korea agreed to an armistice on 27 July 1953, effectively ending the fighting between North and South Korea; however, South Korea refused to sign it. The agreement established a four kilometre wide demilitarized zone along the 38th parallel, effectively dividing Korea into two separate countries.

Although most troops and all heavy weapons were to be removed from the area, it has been heavily armed by both sides since the end of the fighting. Since South Korea never signed the armistice, the two countries technically remain at war.

The armistice agreement established the Military Armistice Commission (MAC), consisting of representatives of the two signatories, to supervise the implementation of the armistice terms.

Sixteen nations are represented on the commission and New Zealand has actively participated in the work of UNCMAC since 1998.

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