Talk: “Turkey’s Participation in the Korean War: The Role of Religious Agents and Religious Motifs”
Henry Jackson School of International Studies
University of Washington
Wednesday, December 19, 2018, 12:30 p.m.
FEASS Building, A-130
On July 25, 1950, one month after the Korean War broke out, the first democratically elected new government of Turkey announced its decision to send a brigade to join the United Nations Command in Korea, even without asking the approval of the Grand National Assembly. From 1950 to 1953, four annually rotated Turkish brigades served on the Korea Peninsula. Why did Turkey send troops to seemingly irrelevant conflict thousands of miles away? Existing literature is confined to Turkey’s developing relations with the U.S. and Turkey’s desire to situate herself within the NATO. Yet equally important Turkish domestic aspects have long been neglected by English-language accounts. Drawing on a largely diversified body of public and private sources in Turkey, the US, and China, my dissertation project argues that the newly elected Democratic Party used Turkey’s participation in the Korean War to consolidate legitimacy through giving space for the general public and soldiers to express their religious identities. A preliminary analysis of Turkish newspapers including Hürriyet, Cumhuriyet, Akşam, Vatan, Zafer, Ulus, Yeni Sabah, and Milliyet, memoirs of Kore Gaziler and tabur imamları, photo collections, Turkish officials’ statements, archival documents from Turkish Military (ATASE) and interviews with Kore Gaziler suggests that Turkey’s road to the Korean War was framed as a religious necessity to defend Turkish vatan against atheist communists.
Lina Wang is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington’s Henry Jackson School of International Studies. She is interested in Turkey’s foreign policy and Sino-Turkish relations. She received her Bachelor’s in English and International Studies from the “Cradle of China’s diplomats”, China Foreign Affairs University and Master’s in European Studies from the University of Macau. Prior to joining the Jackson School, she had learned Turkish language at Istanbul University Language Centre for ten months. She is a recipient of Chinese Government Scholarship and the Chester Fritz Fellowship for International Research and Study.