The mayor of Gapyeong, Korea, Kim Sungki, came to Langley for the unveiling of a Korean War memorial made from stone quarried in his community. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)

Korean mayor returns to Langley to visit war memorial

The mayor of Gapyeong County is visiting Langley’s memorial to the Battle of Kapyong

The mayor of a South Korean county will visit Langley Township on Friday, June 10 to see the local memorial to a Korean War battle involving the Canadian Army.

Gapyeong County Mayor Sungki Kim and a delegation from the county government will be in Langley for a small reception with Langley Township councillors, and to meet with the non-profit that oversees the site of the local Battle of Kapyong Memorial.

Michael Chang, who recently announced he is running for Township council, said the delegation are also visiting another Battle of Kapyong memorial to be unveiled in Ontario on their trip as well.

“It kind of makes sense to have a military history-based relationship between the two communities,” said Chang, who has raised $25,000 towards adding a memorial garden adjacent to the stone.

The battle took place over two days starting on April 23, 1951. A small force of Canadian, Australian, and New Zealanders held off an advance by a large unit of Chinese troops.

READ ALSO: War memorial from small town Korea to a Langley park

The fight allowed reinforcements to arrive and blocked an advance that was aimed at Seoul, the capital of South Korea.

The memorial stone was set up in 2019 by the Gapyeong Stone Committee, including members of the Korean Veterans Association of Canada, the Korean War Veterans Association, and various other veterans groups.

Quarried in Gapyeong County, the stone was brought to Langley and set up in the Derek Doubleday Arboretum, which already hosted a memorial for Canadians lost in the War in Afghanistan.

Kim visited Langley for the 2019 unveiling.

After that, there were few major public events at the stone for two years due to the pandemic.

This April, the first major public gathering was held there, with veterans of both the Canadian and South Korean armed forces in attendance. Students from Langley Secondary gave out poppies to the veterans.

READ ALSO: Holding on to the memory of Canada’s Korean War battles

The meeting between the Gapyeong County delegation and local councillors will be at the Rotary centre at the arboretum. The delegation will also be having a dinner meeting with Arboretum & Botanical Society of Langley, which works to raise funds to support projects at the park.

The pivotal Battle of Kapyong started on April 23, 1951, and lasted for two days, about 60 kilometres northeast of Seoul.

The United Nations’ force had been outnumbered by the Communist Chinese Army by a factor of five, but about 650 troops from the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) and the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, held off an entire Chinese division, preventing the capture of the South Korean capital of Seoul and marking a turning point in the war.

Donation of the memorial was facilitated by the Gapyeong Stone Committee, made up of members of the Korea Veterans Association of Canada, the Korean War Veterans Association, the Korean Veterans Association, and the Vietnam War Veterans Association.

Langley Township