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Korean War Service Medal

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Service medal


Korean War Service Medal

All United Nations military forces that served during the Korean War

Korean Service Medal Korean Defense Service Medal (U.S.) Korea Medal (British Commonwealth) Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation (South Korea) United Nations Service Medal

The Korean War Service Medal (KWSM, Korean: 6.25사변종군기장), also known as the Republic of Korea War Service Medal (ROKWSM), is a military award of South Korea which was first authorized in December 1950.


6.25 Incident Participation Medal

Originally and technically known as the 6.25 Incident Participation Medal (Presidential decree #390; 6.25 stands for June 25, 1950, the date of the beginning of the North Korean invasion into South Korea.), the colored and enameled 5-pointed star version of the Korean War Service Medal was first authorized to South Korean troops who had participated in the initial counter-assaults against North Korean aggression in June 1950.

On September 15, 1951, President Syngman Rhee referred to and authorized the commander-chief of the United Nations Command to confer the award of the "Korean War Medal" and "Korean War Ribbon" ("Korean War Service Medal"), "to the brave and valiant members of the United Nations Command who have been, and are now, combating the communist aggressor in Korea."

Crossed bullets medal

On April 14, 1954, the South Korean government authorized the change of the star medal design to the round "Crossed Bullets" design (Presidential decree #892) of the Korean War Service Medal. The Taeguk (Korean Yin-Yang symbol) circular symbol is not on the center of the suspension ribbon of the original medal or the suspension ribbon of the crossed bullets medal. The Taegut symbol is only on the center of the service ribbon.


The ROK specifies the eligibility period and criteria. Only the ROK-provided medal is approved by the U.S. government to meet the U.S. criteria for wear on the military uniform.

In order to wear the medal and ribbon personnel must have:

  • served between the outbreak of hostilities, June 25, 1950, and the date the armistice was signed, July 27, 1953:
  • been on permanent assignment or on temporary duty for 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days, and
  • performed their duty within the territorial limits of Korea, in the waters immediately adjacent thereto or in aerial flight over Korea participating in actual combat operations or in support of combat operations.
  • Order of precedence

    The order of precedence for non-U.S. service medals and ribbons is determined by date of approval. The Republic of Korea War Service Medal (August 20, 1999) should be worn after the Kuwait Liberation Medal (March 16, 1995). For the majority of Korean War veterans, the medal will be worn after the United Nations Service Medal, or the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal if they served during that conflict.

    United States

    While a number of countries accepted the medal, at the time of the Korean War Service Medal's presentation to U.N. troops the United States of America declined to award the medal to U.S. soldiers. This was based on regulations of the time which curtailed the acceptance and wear of foreign decorations on U.S. military uniforms; the U.S. Congress changed the law on May 8, 1954. Although subsequently some veterans attempted to have the award accepted, the Korean War Service Medal faded into history after the war and was not heard of again until 1996. At that time the Army noted that it could find no record that the Korean Government ever offered the medal to the Department of Defense. This was technically true since the original offer was made to the United Nations Command. The Army took the position that unless the Korean Government resurrected their original offer, it was "not in a position to officially recognize or approve acceptance of the medal."

    In 1999, the South Korean government proposed the medal be reactivated and retroactively awarded to all Korean and U.N. veterans who had served in the Korean War. Planned presentations of the award were scheduled for June 2000, on the 50th anniversary of the Korean War.

    On August 20, 1999, Francis M. Rush Jr., Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army authorized the Korean War Service Medal for distribution and wear by service members of the United States military. The task of issuing the medal was assigned to Randolph Air Force Base while the National Personnel Records Center was responsible for providing documentation to verify eligibility and updating military records to show receipt of the award.

    On May 13, 2000, the South Korea government announced it would provide the medal at no cost to eligible Korean War veterans for the years 2000 to 2003 (50th anniversary of Korean War, 1950 to 1953). The two governments held 50th anniversary ceremonies during that time period. The U.S. Air Force was the designated agency to receive and designate the medals.

    50th anniversary medals

    The 50th anniversary of the Korean War: The blue boxes for the medal from South Korea has written in English, "Korean War Service Medal", the reverse side of the enclosed medal is inscribed in Korean writing, "6.25 Incident Participation Medal".

    New Zealand

    On April 23, 2001, the Korean War Service Medal was authorized for distribution and wear by service members of the British Commonwealth forces including the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).


    Korean War Service Medal Wikipedia

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