Koihime Musou Girls and Korean Patriots, Part VI: Liu Bei and Lieutenant General Yoo Jae-heung (1921-2011) - Commander of Two Battalions during Korean War


Lieutenant General Yoo Jae-heung (Hangul/Hanja: 유재흥/劉載興; Born: August 3rd 1921 in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan - Died: November 26th 2011 in Seoul Special City, Republic of Korea), known with his pen name of Gukheon (국헌/菊軒) or Jaheon (자헌/自軒) is Republic of Korea (ROK) military officer who commanded the ROK II Corps and ROK III Corps in the Korean War. He is the son of Major General Yoo Seung-ryeol (유승렬/劉升烈), participated World War II (1939-1945) under Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and Korean War (1950-1953) under Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) with his father. He is a member of Gangneung Yoo Clan (강릉 유씨/江陵劉氏), a clan which is originated from Gangneung City, Gangwon Province.

Yoo Jae-heung was born in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan on August 3rd 1921. When he was four years old, he moved to his father's hometown in Gongju City, Southern Chungcheong Province. He graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in Zama City, Kanagawa Prefecture. He was the 55th Batch who graduated from that academy. His father, Yoo Seung-ryeol was the 26th Batch Graduate of the academy along with 3rd ROKA Chief of Army Staff - Lieutenant General Shin Tae-young, 1st ROKA Chief of Army Staff - Lieutenant General Lee Eung-joon and Lieutenant General Hong Sa-ik of IJA. However, Lieutenant General Yoo Jae-heung and his father, Major General Yoo Seung-ryeol were the Pro-Japanese Collaborators because they were served in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.

At the time of Japan's surrender, Yoo Jae-heung had been a battalion commander in the Japanese Army with the rank of Captain. When the ROK Army was first formed, he served as a Colonel. When the Jeju Uprising occurred in April 3rd 1948, he and his forces were sent to the island to restore order. There was heavy fighting on the island but he finally was able to pacify the situation by promising not to prosecute those who surrendered.

At the outset of the Korean War, Brigadier General Yoo Jae-heung was commanding ROK 7th Division. After the invasion of South Korea proved to be too much, he was part of the effort to conduct a tactical withdrawal to the Nakdong River. After organizing defenses at the river and receiving US aide, the ROK Army was reorganised and outfitted. As of July 1950, Yoo Jae-heung was commanding the ROK II Corps (Code name: Double Dragons/SsangYong Budae). As of September 1950, The II Corps was in Hayang-eup, Gyeongsan City, Northern Gyeongsang Province defending the Nakdong Line.

After the September Offensive by the North Korean Army had strained the defences of the ROK II Corps. General Yoo ordered the ROK 6th Division and 8th Division under his command to send a regiment each to retake Yeongcheon. The attempt was largely unsuccessful and General Yoo's requests for US armour support were not always met but crucial to the retaking of the hill. Yongchon was lost and retaken on two occasions. Captured Korean People's Army documents showed that Kim Il-sung considered the hill to be a crucial strategic point and vital to winning the war but failed repeatedly in his attempts. Gen. Yoo's defense of the area was later commemorated by a monument in his honour.

In October 1950, after a successful landing at Incheon (인천 상륙 작전/仁川上陸作戰/Incheon Sangnyuk Jakjeon a.k.a Operation Chromite), North Korean troops retreated and UN forces pushed north into North Korea in. During the advance, Major General Yoo was on the central front. He made it as far as Cheorwon, Gangwon Province before stopping. ROK Army Chief of Staff, General Chung Il-kwon wanted a Korean Unit to be the first to enter Pyongyang so he had Maj. Gen. Yoo sent a regiment to take the city. They encountered pockets of resistance but the unorganised nature of it made the task easy to accomplish.

There were reports of Chinese Army involvement and some Chinese soldiers were captured but US intelligence did not believe that China would be intervening. In late October 1950, Maj. Gen. Yoo was promoted to be Korean Army Deputy Chief of Staff and left for Seoul, leaving ROK II Corps to Brig. Gen. Paik Sun-yup. Upon realising the nature of the Chinese attack and vulnerability of old corps, Yoo wanted to return to their aide. The resupply drops that had been promised to him by General Walker were much smaller than expected and the ROK II Corps was greatly decimated. Yoo considered this to be the most challenging time for him during the war.

On January 9th 1951 Maj. Gen. Yoo Jae-heung was appointed to be the ROK III Corps (Code name: Mountains/San-ak Budae) commander. The Chinese attack, known as the Second Spring Offensive, was handled by US and Korean forces fairly well. The Chinese, though numerous, were poorly supplied and the now battle-hardened and well supplied ROK lines held strong. The fighting ended by May 1951 and the ensuing stalemate lasted until the armistice.

He retired from Republic of Korea Army in July 1960 and started his ambassadorial duties. He was appointed as the Korean Ambassador to Thailand (August 1960 - August 1963), Sweden (August 1963 - September 1967) and Italy (November 1967 - February 1971). He became Minister of National Defence between August 1971 to December 1973; after his return from Italy. Several years later, he died on November 26th 2011 at the age of 91 in Seoul - leaving his widow, Yoon Ui-sang, two sons: Yoo Tae-jong, Yoo Hyung-jong and a daughter: Yoo Mi-hye. He was buried with full honours in the Generals' section of Daejeon National Cemetery in Daejeon Yuseong-gu.

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