|Hahm Sung-deuk, dean of the Graduate School of Political Studies at Kyonggi University, speaks during an interview with The Korea Times in Seoul, Sept. 6. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk|
Incheon city commemorates 73rd anniversary of Operation Chromite
By Lee Hyo-jin
On Sep. 15, 1950, some 260 naval ships and 70,000 troops of the U.S.-led United Nations forces alongside South Korean troops landed on Incheon's coast, west of Seoul, in a bold counteroffensive against North Korea's invasion.
The Incheon Landing Operation, also known as Operation Chromite, is celebrated here as the pivotal moment that changed the tide of the 1950-53 Korean War, as it allowed the South Korean forces to recapture Seoul from North Korean troops.
To this day, the port city of Incheon remains a symbol of the ironclad alliance between South Korea and the U.S.-led U.N. forces, according to Hahm Sung-deuk, dean of the Graduate School of Political Studies at Kyonggi University.
"The Incheon landing mission is one of the most effective and successful military operations in history, comparable to the Normandy landings during World War II," Hahm said during a recent interview with The Korea Times. "Based on this, Incheon can become a perfect venue for diplomatic discussions to address shared security challenges in the world."
Against this backdrop, Incheon will hold the inaugural Incheon Security Conference on Sept. 18, bringing together experts from home and abroad to shed light on pending issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula amid intensifying North Korean threats.
The event, hosted by the Incheon Metropolitan City and funded by the Graduate School of Political Studies at Kyonggi University and the Korean Institute for Presidential Studies, will be held at Oakwood Premier Hotel in Songdo.
Under the main theme "After the Ukraine War: building strong alliances," the forum will consist of two sessions each on "The Ukraine War and the U.S.-China Relations," and "ROK-U.S. Alliance amid the North Korean nuclear crisis."
Among the speakers are Victor Cha, senior vice president and Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Patrick Cronin, Chair for Asia-Pacific Security at the Hudson Institute, Ramon Pacheco Pardo, professor of International Relations at King's College London and Terence Roehrig, professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College.
Former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will give a keynote speech and former U.S. President George W. Bush will deliver a congratulatory message in a pre-recorded video.
The conference will be held during a commemorative week from Sept. 14 to 19 designated by Incheon City as a period to mark the 73rd anniversary of the Incheon Landing Operation. Various ceremonies will take place across the city, including a reenactment of Operation Chromite on Friday involving 20 South Korean navy ships, 10 aircraft and 3,300 service members.
"In the current state of waning globalization, alliances are increasingly playing a bigger role in security issues of every nation. The forum will be an opportunity to exchange ideas about the South Korea-U.S. alliance for our ultimate goal of pursuing a peaceful and denuclearized Korean Peninsula," Hahm said.
"Security policies are a matter of survival for a country. But in (South) Korea, foreign policy and security issues too often become a source of political and ideological debates," he said.
A stark contrast in foreign policy approaches between progressive and conservative governments not only creates confusion for neighboring countries, but also undermines the overall security situation of the nation, the professor said.
"A truly democratized, advanced country should be able to carry out consistent and unified security strategies regardless of which political side comes to power," he said.
"So, through this security conference, we aim to make an opportunity to emphasize and formulate security policies that both right wings and left wings can agree on, based on the notion that security is a crucial element to the nation's survival."
Following this year's conference, the Incheon Security Conference will become an annual event, he said, with a goal to gradually widen the spectrum of guests and audience.
For the third edition of the forum in 2025, the organizers seek to invite leaders of all countries that participated in the landing operation, including the United Kingdom, Canada and France, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the operation.