If you, or a relative served in Korea, you may not be aware of the new Defence authorisation to wear the Republic of Korea War Service Medal. The ROKWSM was introduced by South Korea in 1951 to recognise the assistance provided by members of the United Nations forces in combating communist aggression in Korea.
During the Korean War, Australia used the Imperial Honours and Awards System and was therefore subject to the award policies set by the United Kingdom at the time. The regulations of the day did not permit the acceptance or wearing of this medal by British Commonwealth military personnel.
Following a campaign by the Australian Council of Korea Veterans Associations, a new offer of the medal was made by the South Korean government which was accepted, and approved for wear, by the Governor-General in 2017.
Eligibility for the Medal
Veterans who have been awarded with the Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 with Clasp KOREA are also eligible for the Republic of Korea War Service medal. The eligibility criteria, as directed by the Republic of Korea, is as follows:
- Served between 25 June 1950 and 27 July 1953
- The service prescribed must have been performed:
While on permanent assignment; or
While on temporary duty within the territorial limits of Korea or on waters immediately adjacent thereto for 30 consecutive days or 60 days not consecutive; or
While as crew members of aircraft in aerial flight over Korea participating in actual combat operations or in support of combat operations.
If you are unsure of you or your relatives’ service dates you can access the Korean War Nominal Roll which has been curated by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The Nominal Roll is an index of information which provides a snapshot of individual service gathered from service records.
The Nominal Roll includes approximately 5,700 members of the Royal Australian Navy, 10,800 members from the Australian Army, and 1,400 members of the Royal Australian Air Force who served in the Korean War operational theatre from 27 June 1950 to 19 April 1956.
It is important to note that eligibility for the medal ceases on 27 July 1953, and therefore the eligible service periods must be met prior to that date.
The medal is no longer issued by the Republic of South Korea, and is neither administered nor issued by the Australian Government.
Eligible veterans can purchase the medal from Heritage. There is no requirement to provide proof of eligibility to wear the medal or in order to purchase a replica.
Allowance is made for family members of a deceased recipient to wear that person’s medals on commemorative occasions such as Anzac Day. When worn by others, the usual protocol recommended is that the medals are worn on the right side to show that the wearer is not the original recipient. This policy extends to the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.