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Yoon Gil Byeong: Unsung Hero of the Korean War

Daniel Kim Views  

Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs

The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs announced on the 30th that the late Major Yoon Gil Byeong, who died during the Battle of Highlands, also known as Kojion, has been selected as the Korean War (June 25, 1950) Hero of May 2024.

Born in 1931 in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, Major Yoon volunteered for the army when the Korean War broke out. After graduating from Andong Normal School, he worked as a teacher at Geoncheon Elementary School, his alma mater. After going through the Army General School, he was commissioned as a lieutenant on January 20, 1951. He was then assigned as a platoon leader in the 2nd Battalion of the 6th Division of the Army and participated in the Sachang-ri Battle in Hwacheon County, Gangwon Province, and the Yongmunsan Battle in Yangpyeong County, Gyeonggi Province, earning him recognition for his contributions.

On January 30, 1953, Major Yoon, who was appointed as the commander of the 10th Company of the 3rd Battalion of the 12th Division of the Army, was defending the Eastern Front in Inje County, Gangwon Province, in June 1953, with the armistice agreement imminent.

The division’s defense line was in a disadvantageous position, constantly exposed to the enemy, as it overlooked the Seohwari Valley, a significant route to Inje. The North Korean army was occupying the surrounding highlands. Major Yoon was in charge of the heavy duty of defending the most critical point, Hill 812.

On June 1, 1953, when the North Korean Army’s 45th Division launched a large-scale attack on Hill 812, Colonel Kim Jae Myung, the commander of the 37th Regiment, ordered the 3rd Battalion, which was defending the top of the hill, to “overcome the difficulties and secure the current resistance line.” The battalion members were already in battle formation, deployed around Hill 812.

The North Korean army’s attack focused on the 10th Company’s position on the right flank of Hill 812, and Major Yoon fought a fierce hand-to-hand battle with his company members. Despite the victory of the 10th Company surrounding the nameless hill, the situation of the Korean army defending Hill 812 gradually worsened, and fierce battles continued for the top of the hill.

On the 5th of the same month, the North Korean army deployed two companies to the nameless hill on the right side of Hill 812. The 10th Company, defending the hill, fought a fierce battle against the enemy’s onslaught, but as the North Korean army deployed additional troops, the company’s defense line was pushed back to near the top of the hill. Major Yoon decided to defend the summit at all costs and ordered his troops to defend the base centered around the command post.

Surrounded by the enemy, Major Yoon led his troops into a cave and refused to surrender, continuing to fight until he was killed on June 8. The Korean army recaptured the top of the nameless hill on June 8, 1953.

In recognition of his contributions, the government awarded him the Hwarang Military Merit Medal in 1951, promoted him from captain to major, and posthumously awarded him the Chungmu Military Merit Medal in 1953.

Major Yoon is currently buried in the National Daejeon Cemetery. In June 2006, a monument named Army Major Yoon Gil Byeong was erected in his alma mater, Geoncheon Elementary School in Gyeongju.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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