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S. Korea Cuts War Commemoration

June 20, 2000

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ In a gesture aimed at easing tension with North Korea, South Korea said Tuesday it has canceled a massive military parade and battle-scene reenactments to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War.

The decision followed a series of gestures from both Koreas to improve ties following their historic, three-day summit last week, which ended with pledges to work together to end half a century of hostilities.

The official Korean Veterans’ Association endorsed the government decision. But some veterans angrily accused President Kim Dae-jung of trying too hard to please North Korea, which they say has often repaid humanitarian aid from the South with armed infiltrations and a military buildup.

``It’s as if the government were telling the people to forget the war without even getting an apology from North Korea for starting the war,″ said Choi Chong-tae, 70, leader of a group of decorated war veterans.

South Korea had planned to stage a military parade in downtown Seoul on June 25, the 50th anniversary of the three-year Korean War’s outbreak.

Its commemoration program had called for reenactments on the anniversaries of major battles, including U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s Inchon Landing in September 1950, which undercut North Korean advances. Military units had also planned to stage marches and mobilize reserve soldiers in reaction to a mock North Korean invasion.

All these plans were canceled and were replaced by more benign ceremonies, such as photo exhibitions and dinner parties for veterans, Seoul’s Defense Ministry said in a news release.

``We decided to change our plans in order to assure the successful implementation of the summit agreements,″ it said.

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