After 61 years Koreans still remember the consequences of the Korean War, which divided this nation into two. Even today the difficult relationship between the two countries remains. But Koreans were not the only ones to fight in the Korean War.The United States, Soviet Union, Australia, Canada, Belgium, Colombia, France, Turkey, and others were also participants. Turkey’s effort in the war is of special significance to 20-year-old student Onur Sahil Cerit.
Onur is from Turkey, and this semester he began attending Kangnam University. After a year of studying the Korean language, he will begin his 4-year study of computer engineering. “I really wanted to study abroad,” he said. “When I got the chance to study in South Korea, I was excited because the Korean education system is one of the strongest in the world. Plus I will be the second member of my family to walk on Korean soil.”
In 1950 Onur’s grandfather Sergeant Cemil Demiroz fought North Koreanswhile stationed in Busan.“It was always hard to talk about the war with my grandfather because three years of fighting left a deep imprint in his memory,” Onur explains. “He lost most of his friends before he and others returned home.”
In 1952 a brigade under the command of Sgt Demiroz headed north and stopped to drink water from the Han River. They were spotted by North Korean soldiers, who tried to poison the water with a tank of chemicals. While the water was being poisoned one of the North Korean soldiers began firing on the brigade. Sgt Demiroz acted quickly, turned his weapon against the North Korean soldier, and killed him. Sgt Demiroz was wounded in the shootout. For preventing the deaths of his comrades and for saving his brigade he was honored as an Ambassador for Peace. After the war he received the medals of Peace, Bravery and Honor.
In 2014 the Korean War veterans’ community in Turkey started a program to send students to study in South Korea. “With the help of the veterans, and especially of my grandfather, I am able to attend Kangnam University, so I am really thankful for their support,” Onar says. “I want to commemorate my grandfather by achieving everything I want.”
The Korean War affected not only Koreans, but people around the world. Students like Onur remind us of the sacrifices heroes have made so that we may live in peace.