Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney is preparing to lead a delegation to South Korea next week, despite bloodcurdling threats by North Korea against its neighbour.
Blaney and a group of 36 veterans of the Korean War are to leave this weekend for a commemorative tour of battlefields and cemeteries.
He says Foreign Affairs is keeping a close eye on the Korean peninsula, where North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has been threatening nuclear war against South Korea and the United States.
Blaney adds that the South Korean government hasn’t raised any red flags over the trip.
The five-day visit commemorates Canada’s contribution to the 1950-53 Korean War.
About 26,000 Canadians took part in the conflict and 516 were killed.
Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw, who joined the Minister’s morning teleconference on Thursday, said the trip isn’t going to be derailed by threats from the north.
“We’re going because, one, the government of South Korea said, ‘Come on over,’ our veterans want to go over and, at this point in time, we’re still going,” he said.
“The tensions that are experienced now are a demonstration of the importance of what our Korean War veterans accomplished 60 years ago and is a profound reminder of what they did then still has an impact today for the liberty of the peninsula,” Blaney said.
The Harper government has declared 2013 as the Year of the Korean War Veteran.
The department says this commemorative tour from April 22 to April 27 will include ceremonies of remembrance at the Republic of Korea National Cemetery in Seoul, the Canadian Korean War Memorial Garden in Naechon and the United Nations Memorial Cemetery of Korea in Pusan.
Semianiw said the trip coincides with the 62nd anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong. In that 1951 fight, soldiers of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry successfully defended a hilltop position against Chinese forces that far outnumbered them. The Canadians were awarded a special unit citation from the United States.
Semianiw called the battle “a defining moment for Canada in the Korean War.”
Blaney said there are about 10,000 surviving Korean War vets and he urged Canadians to take time to ask about their stories and thank them for their efforts.