June 25, 2010 marks sixty years since the start of the Korean War. Sometimes referred to as the “Forgotten War” a total of five million people on both sides were either killed or wounded during the three-years of struggle. That total includes over half a million South Korean civilians. 36,000 American soldiers and 1,100 British soldiers were also among 700,000 killed on the Allied side. Those suffered by the North have never been accurately calculated but they were surely even higher.
The city of Seoul today is the finest possible tribute to those who paid the ultimate price for its freedom and indeed, its very existence. Following the end of outright hostilities, South Korea went through a number of turbulent decades before finally emerging as an economic powerhouse as well as one of the world’s most vibrant democracies. Meanwhile, across the border, just thirty miles north of the city, a tragedy that has been unfolding for the past 60 years shows no signs of abating.
On the peninsula, the anniversary, while marked, has been low-key. While North Korea has made a rather feeble attempt at rattling the sabre, after the Cheonan incident earlier this year, no-one is in much of a mood to play games.
It is true to say though, that the main reason for the seemingly general apathy is that on Saturday evening, Korea will play Uruguay in the last sixteen of the World Cup. Korea’s recent history means that it does nationalism very well and Saturday’s game is the biggest since Korea fell to Germany in the semi-finals of the 2002 competition.
Of course, this time around, the North were in South Africa too. A creditable defeat at the hands of Brazil was followed by humiliation by Portugal and a hammering by the Cote D’Ivoire. Despite all that has happened, here in the South, the vast majority were supporting the North – after all that has happened, they are still Koreans.
Racing takes a backseat as the nation prepares for the encounter. Nevertheless, it’s a big weekend in prospect. Cheonnyeon Daero makes his first appearance since winning the Derby last month in Busan’s feature race on Sunday. Meanwhile, Seoul hosts its Oaks trial, the “Sports Seoul Cup, where the likes of Dongbang Rose and Hushtilled will be looking to put themselves in the frame for the Classic at Busan in August.
Saturday June 26
Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:20 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 10 races from 12:10 to 17:20
Sunday June 27
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:20 to 18:10
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:40 to 16:30