Paik Sun-yup

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This is a Korean name; the family name is Paik.
Paik Sun-yup
백선엽
白善燁
ROKA General Paik Sun Yup July 27th 2011 CE.jpg
Paik in July 2011.
Born (1920-11-23) November 23, 1920 (age 94)
Kangsŏ-gun, Japanese Korea
(now Nampho, South Pyongan Province, North Korea)
Allegiance  Manchukuo
 South Korea
Service/branch  Manchukuo Imperial Army
Korean Constabulary
 Republic of Korea Army
Years of service 1944-1945
1945-1946
1946-1960
Rank First Lieutenant
First Lieutenant
General
Commands held 5th Infantry Regiment
5th Infantry Division
1st Infantry Division
I Corps
II Corps
First Republic of Korea Army
Republic of Korea Army
Republic of Korea Armed Forces
Battles/wars

World War II
Korean War

Paik Sun-yup
Hangul 백선엽
Hanja
Revised Romanization Baek Seon-yeop
McCune–Reischauer Paek Sŏnyŏp

Paik Sun-yup (Korean: 백선엽, Hanja: 白善燁) (born November 23, 1920) is a retired South Korean military officer. He served both Manchukuo and South Korea, the latter during the Korean War.

Paik is known for his service during the Korean War and for being the first four-star general in the history of the South Korean military. His brother, Paik In-Yeop, also served in the Republic of Korea Army during the Korean War, commanding the 17th Independent Regiment at the Battle of Ongjin and again in the Inchon Landings.

Early life and education[edit]

Paik at Taegu, South Korea in 1950.
Korean War
(Dwight D. Eisenhower, Kim Baik-Il, Baik Seon-yup, Chung Il-kwon.
Paik Sun-yup in May 2002.
Paik in an armistice delegation in 1951.

Paik was born in Kangsŏ-gun, South P'yŏngan, currently the city of Nampo, on November 23, 1920, during a time when Korea was under Japanese rule. He was born the eldest of three siblings, with a younger sister and brother, being raised by a widowed mother. In 1925 the Paik family moved to Pyongyang where it lived under extremely poor conditions in a single, rented room. Unable to feed her family, Paik's mother attempted to take the children and commit family suicide by jumping from the Taedong River bridge but was dissuaded from doing so by his older sister.[1]

Career[edit]

Paik's mother and sister soon took jobs at a rubber factory to pay for his schooling. He attended Mansu Primary School for four years before transferring to Yaksong Primary School. After, he spent five years in Pyongyang Normal School, training to be a teacher in 1939.[2]

Instead of getting into teaching, he entered Mukden Military Academy of Manchukuo. After graduation, he became an officer of the Manchukuo Imperial Army, and served in Gando Special Force. He engaged in anti-Japanese resistance in Jiandao (eastern Manchuria). He joined the Japanese campaign on northern China for ten months from 1944 to 1945.

After the end of World War II he returned to Pyongyang but in December 1945 fled south since rising communists threatened his safety. In South Korea, he was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the Constabulary, the predecessor of the ROK Army. He was committed to build the army, crush communist guerrillas, and purge the army of leftists.

Korean War[edit]

When the fighting broke out on June 25, 1950, he was assigned to defend Seoul as the 1st Infantry Division's commanding officer. He finally retreated to South Gyeongsang but made an important contribution to the defense of the Pusan Perimeter, especially to the victory at the village of Dabudong.

On the move north, his 1st Division under the United States I Corps became the first to enter Pyongyang on October 19. He was one of the first officers to realize the Chinese entry into the war. He assumed the defense of northwestern Korea but was plagued by a larger Chinese army.

In April 1951, Paik was placed in command of the ROK I Corps in charge of eastern Korea. He soon found the South Korean military insufficiently trained; they took intensive training while the battle line was fixed. In July 1951, Paik was elected to represent the ROK military at the Kaesong Truce Talk but failed to attain results.

In November, Task Force Paik was set up to destroy communist guerrillas on Jirisan. The campaign was successfully finished in March 1952. In recognition of the success, he was promoted to Lieutenant General and Task Force Paik was transformed to the new ROK II Corps. Then he was appointed to Army Chief of Staff in July 1952. He devoted himself in building up the ROK Army. In January 1953, he was promoted to the rank of general in the ROK Army; which made him the first 4-star general in the South Korean military.

Later career[edit]

Paik successively filled the positions of commander of the First Field Army, the Army Chief of Staff, and the Chairman for the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff until his retirement from the army in May 1960.

He was appointed as an ambassador to Taiwan in 1960, to France in 1961, and to Canada in 1965. From 1969 to 1971, he served as Minister of Transportation and launched the construction of the Seoul Metropolitan Subway. In 1970 he faced the hijacking of a Japan Airlines plane at Gimpo Airport by Japanese Red Army. He served as the presidents of two national policy companies in sequence. He participated in the construction of the War Memorial at Yongsan, which opened in 1990.

Paik is the author of From Pusan to Panmunjom: Wartime Memoirs of the Republic of Korea's First Four-Star General, Paik Sun Yup (Dulles, VA: Brassey's, 1992): ISBN 978-1-57488-202-5.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Paik 1992, p. 79
  2. ^ Paik 1992, p. 80

References[edit]

  • Paik, Sun Yup (1992), From Pusan to Panmunjom, Riverside, NJ: Brassey Inc., ISBN 0-02-881002-3 

External links[edit]

Media related to Paik Sun-yup at Wikimedia Commons