Pacific edition, Sunday, June 24, 2007

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — The sunlight glints across the rice paddies of Pyeongtaek as farmers bend to their work in the afternoon stillness.

The booming clash of armies, columns of hapless refugees, the sight of crying war orphans, all are now a part of the peninsula’s not-so-distant past.

Come Monday, the Korean War that visited death and devastation from 1950 to 1953 will be remembered during a ceremony at Camp Humphreys.

The 3 p.m. ceremony at Beacon Hill Park marks the 57th anniversary of North Korea’s invasion of South Korea.

The invasion was launched June 25, 1950. The war ended in truce and stalemate on July 27, 1953. U.S. forces remain on the peninsula under a military alliance with South Korea.

The ceremony is being held to honor the troops of the 21 nations that served under United Nations auspices against communist North Korea, as well as the Korean civilians who bore the full weight of wartime and postwar hardship.

“It’s the reason we’re all here,” Robert H. McElroy, spokesman for the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, said of U.S. forces, which have remained on the peninsula since the war.

“It’s a way for us to pay our respects,” McElroy said.

The ceremony’s guest of honor is South Korea’s pre-eminent modern-day military hero, retired Gen. Paik Sun-yup.

Paik commanded the South Korean army’s 1st Infantry Division as a colonel when the war broke out. He later rose to command his country’s forces and was its first four-star general.

During the ceremony, soldiers will raise the U.N. flag and those of the nations that fought under it.

Officials will lay a commemorative wreath, and remarks are scheduled from the commander of USAG Humphreys, Col. John E. Dumoulin Jr.

South Korean military and civic leaders and members of the U.S. military are among the 100 or so invited guests.

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