(South Korea)


In a letter dated May 13, 2000, to Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, Republic of Korea Defense Minister Seong Tae Cho formally announced that his government would provide the Republic of Korea War Service Medal to eligible U.S. veterans of that conflict, or to their surviving next of kin. The medal will be provided at no cost to veterans, and the U.S. Air Force has been designated as the lead agency to receive and distribute the medals

"On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War," Cho wrote, "the Republic of Korea government decided to issue the Republic of Korea War Service Medal to pay tribute to the Korean War veterans for their historic endeavors to preserve freeom of the Republic of Korea and the free world."

The medal was orignially offered by the Republic of Korea in 1951 to United Nations forces seerving in Korea and adjacent waters. At the time U.S. law prohibited the U.S. military from wearing medals issued by foreign governments. Congress changed that in 1954, but by then most U.S. Service members eligible for the medal had returned home.

In 1998 the government of the Republic of Korea renewed its original offer, and on August 20, 1999, the Defense Department approved the acceptance and wear of the medal. Approximately 1.8 million U.S. veterans of the Koran War are eligible to receive the medal (next of kin of eligible deceased veterans can also apply for the medal).


The Korean War Service Medal was originally authorized in December of 1950 as the 6.25 Incident Participation Medal (6.25 stands for June 25, 1950, the date the North Koreans launched their invasion of South Korea). It was re-authorized in 1951 by Presidential Order No. 390 issued by President Syngman Rhee and its design changed to the present form.


Acceptance and wear of the Korean War Service Medal was delayed. The medal was originally offered to United States forces on November 15, 1951, but acceptance was declined because at the time there was no statutory authorization allowing acceptance of foreign awards for service during the Korean War. However, Public Law 354 (83rd Congress), approved May 8, 1954, authorized the acceptance and wear of foreign medals and decorations relative to the Korean War. Approval for military personnel to accept and wear this medal was eventually authorized in a memorandum issued by the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower & Reserve Affairs), "Military Decorations and Awards Policy - Korean War Service Medal," dated August 20, 1999.


The effective dates of the Korean War Service Medal are June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953.


To be eligible for this medal, the Service member must have:
  • Served between the outbreak of hostilities (June 25, 1950) and the date the armistice was signed (July 27, 1953);

  • Been on permanent assignment or on temporary duty for thirty consecutive days or sixty non-consecutive days, and

  • Performed duty within the territorial limits of Korea, in the waters immediately adjacent thereto or in aerial flight over Korea participating in actual combat operation or in support of combat operations.

To apply, veterans must provide a copy of their discharge paper, commonly known as the DD-214, or a corrected version of that document, DD-215. National Guard membes must provide their statement of service equivalent, NGB Form 22.

Additional information on how to apply for or request the medal can be found by contacting:
  • Air Force Personnel Center, Monday through Friday, between 7:30 am and 4:30 pm at 800-558-1404; or,

  • by calling the Awards and Decorations Section at (210) 565-2432; or, by writing to:

550 C Street West, Suite 12
Randolph AFB, Texas 78150-4714
  • You may also visit their web site by clicking here; or,

  • You may FAX the Air Force Personnel Center at (210) 565-3118.

  • General information on the medal can also be found by writing to the

DoD 50th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee
1213 Jefferson Davis Highway
Crystal Gateway 4
Arlington, Virginia 22202

Because the order of precedence for non-U.S. service medals and ribbons is determined by date of approval, the Republic of Korea War Service Medal should be worn after the Kuwait Liberation Medal, which was the last foreign medal approved for wear by U.S. military personnel. For the majority of Korean War veterans the medal will be worn after the United Nations Medal, or the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal if they served during that conflict


No devices are authorized for this medal


The Korean War Service Medal was designed by the South Korean Ministry of Defense.



At the top-center of a bronze medallion, a Mercator's projection of the earth showing the Korean peninsula in outline. At the bottom-center, there are two cartridges crossed saltire-wise with the bullets up. From the base of the cartridges on either side, a laurel wreath extends upwards and terminates at the edge of the globe. The entire central theme is surrounded by a double-edged circular border following the contour of the medal, and between the lines of the border it is charged with dots.


The original reverse of the medal produced in Korea contains Korean characters that identify the purpose of the medal; the version that is currently commercially available in the United States bears the inscription FOR SERVICE / IN KOREA above two raised tablets, the upper tabled being slightly longer than the lower.


The ribbon to the Korean War Service Medal contains a broad central stripe of gold seven-eighths of an inch wide, bordered (from the inside out) by narrow pinstripes of white, red, white and blue (the blue forming the edgestripes of the ribbon).


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