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Korea Medal
File:Korea Medal.pngFile:Korea Medal reverse.png
The Korea Medal, obverse (left) and reverse (right)
Awarded by the
Royal Cypher of Elizabeth II as Head of the Commonwealth.svg
sovereign of the Commonwealth realms
Type Campaign medal
Eligibility Any member of a Commonwealth realm's armed forces.
Awarded for Campaign service.
Campaign Korean War (1950–1953)
Status No longer awarded
Description Cupro-nickel or silver disk, 36mm diameter.
Clasps None
Established July 1951
Next (higher) Dependent on state
Next (lower) Dependent on state
Related United Nations Service Medal for Korea
Korea Medal.svg
Ribbon of the Korea Medal
Korea Medal MID.svg
Ribbon with bronze oakleaf for Mentioned in Dispatches

The Korea Medal (French language: Médaille de Corée), sometimes referred to as the Queen's Korea Medal to distinguish it from the United Nations Service Medal, was a campaign medal created in 1951 to recognize troops from the various Commonwealth realms, except South Africa and India, who had given either one day's service (one sortie) in Korea or 28 days offshore during the Korean War.[1] The medal was physically identical in all realms where it was awarded, save for Canada, where it contained unique elements. As an internationally distributed award, the Korea Medal holds a different place in each country's order of precedence for honours.


The Korean War was the first event wherein United Nations (UN) armed forces took on a combat role in suppressing aggression, seeing the participation of 20 UN member states, as well as the Republic of Korea and Italy, in a multinational effort to stop the North Korean takeover of the Republic of Korea.[1] The Korea Medal was created in 1951 to recognize specifically members of the militia from King George VI's various states at the time that participated in the Korean conflict;[2] namely, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. South Africa, however, produced its own version of the Korea Medal.


Designed by Edward Carter Preston,[3] the Korea Medal is in the form of a 38 millimetres (1.5 in) diameter cupro-nickel disc with, on the obverse, the words ELIZABETH II DEI GRA. BRITT. OMN. REGINA F.D. (Latin abbreviation for: Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God Queen of All the Britons, Defender of the Faith) surrounding an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, symbolizing her roles as both fount of honour and Commander-in-Chief of her various forces.[4] At the time of the medal's creation, King George VI was King of each of the Commonwealth realms, and his effigy was to have appeared on the Korea Medal.[5] However, he died on 6 February 1952, and so the image of his daughter was placed on the obverse of the medal, uncrowned, as per custom for sovereigns prior to their coronation. On the reverse is a depiction of Hercules wrestling the Hydra— a symbolic representation of communism— with the word KOREA below.[6] The Canadian version was identical, except it was made of .800 fine silver, and bore on the obverse the words ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA CANADA (Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God Queen of Canada). The recipient's name and regimental number was engraved on the medal's rim.[1][7] This medallion is worn on the left chest, suspended from a bar on a 31.8 millimetres (1.25 in) wide ribbon with five vertical stripes in alternating yellow and blue, the latter representing the United Nations.[6] No medal bars were available, instead a single bronze oak leaf emblem was issued to signify a Mentioned in Despatches,[6][7] which was worn pinned to the same ribbon from which the medal was hung.[8]

Eligibility and allocation

Members of the Commonwealth realms' armed forces, aside from those from South Africa, were granted the Korea Medal for active service in the theatre of the Korean Peninsula between 2 July 1950 and 27 July 1953.[8] To receive the medal, navy personnel were required to complete either 28 days aboard ship in the operational areas of the Yellow Sea or the Sea of Japan, or at least one day of shore duty; air force personnel needed to complete one operational sortie over the peninsula or the surrounding seas, or meet the same requirements as naval personnel; and army personnel must have undertaken a minimum of one day's service on the strength of a unit serving in Korea. Any military members who had made an official visit to the region for a period of no less than 30 days were also eligible for the medal, as were those who hadn't fulfilled the requirements due to injury or death in combat. In some countries, civilians in the Red Cross, Order of St. John Voluntary Aid Detachment, Salvation Army, or YMCA could receive the Korea Medal, per navy requirements if they served aboard a hospital ship, or per army requirements if they were stationed on land.[9]

Some 15,000 Korea Medals were issued to Canadian personnel, amongst which 33 members of the Royal Canadian Navy and 248 individuals in the Canadian Army were granted oak leaves to pin to their Korea Medal ribbons.[7] All persons awarded the Korea Medal also automatically received the United Nations Service Medal for Korea.[2] The South Korean government offered to all UN militia the Korean War Service Medal, though regulations at the time did not permit persons from the Commonwealth realms (as well as the United States) to accept the decoration; in 2001, Queen Elizabeth II, as Queen of New Zealand, approved the issuance of the Korean War Services Medal to all New Zealanders who had previously received the Korea Medal.[10]

Precedence in each realm

Some orders of precedence are as follows:

Country Preceding Following
Australia Australia
Order of precedence
Australian Active Service Medal 1945–1975 United Nations Korea Medal
Canada Canada
Order of precedence
Sacrifice Medal Canadian Volunteer Service Medal for Korea
New Zealand New Zealand
Order of precedence
New Zealand Service Medal 1946-1949 Naval General Service Medal 1915-1962
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Order of precedence
Newfoundland Volunteer War Service Medal General Service Medal (1962)

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Honours > Medals > Canadian Korea Medal". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "UK Medals > Campaign > Korean War Medals". Stephen Stratford. Retrieved 31 August 2009. 
  3. Crompton, Ann (1999). Edward Carter Preston 1885-1965. Liverpool: University of Liverpool Art Gallery. ISBN 0-85323-792-1. 
  4. Department of National Defence. "DH&R Home > Canadian Honours Chart > Sacrifice Medal (SM)". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  5. George VI (July 1951). "The Korea Medal". written at London. In New Zealand Defence Force. New Zealand Defence Force. 3. Wellington: Queen's Printer. 14 January 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2009. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Department of Defence. "Defence Honours & Awards > The Korea Medal". Queen's Printer for Australia. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Veterans Affairs Canada. "Canada Remembers > Records & Collections > Canadian Orders, Medals and Decorations > Canadian Military Medals and Decorations > War Medals (1939-1991) > Korea Medal". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 31 August 2009. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Robertson, Megan C.. "C > Canada > Orders, Decorations and Medals of Canada > Canadian Korea Medal". Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  9. George VI 1950, 10
  10. New Zealand Defence Force. "NZDF Medals Site > Medal Categories > Foreign Campaign Medals Awarded to New Zealanders > The Korean War Service Medal". Queen's Printer. Retrieved 31 August 2009. 

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