Hosub Shim discussed his research on South Korea’s involvement in the Vietnam War between 1965 and 1973. A major in the South Korean military, Shim will complete his Ph.D. in history at KU this spring and then will return to South Korea to teach history to military cadets. Shim first spoke to Lawrence Central Rotary about 3 years ago when he began his doctoral program.
Although the Vietnam War was as controversial in South Korea (ROK) as it was in the United States, South Korea had the second largest number of forces stationed there. The country found it was in their national interest to have strong ties with the United States; they leveraged their military help in exchange for U.S. assistance with strengthening their army and spurring their economy. Their involvement was a turning point to becoming a prosperous country.
South Korean troops were largely stationed on the eastern coast of Vietnam, a safe location that kept casualties low. South Korea refused to allow the U.S. to control their operations, maintaining a policy of pacification as opposed to the U.S. strategy of “search and destroy.”