Korea Medal (South Africa)

Korea Medal
Awarded by the Monarch of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms
Country  South Africa
Type Military campaign medal
Eligibility All Ranks
Awarded for Voluntary service in the Korean War
Campaign 1950-1953 Korean War
Established 1953
SADF pre-1994 & SANDF post-2002 orders of wear
Next (higher)
SADF precedence:
Next (lower)
SADF succession:
SANDF succession:
Related Korea Medal
Korean War Service Medal

Ribbon bar

The Korea Medal is a military campaign medal which was instituted by the Union of South Africa in 1953. It was awarded to volunteers of the Union Defence Forces for service in Korea during the 1950-1953 Korean War.[1]

The South African military

The Union Defence Forces (UDF) were established in 1912 and renamed the South African Defence Force (SADF) in 1958. On 27 April 1994, it was integrated with six other independent forces into the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).[1][2][3]

Korean War

The Flying Cheetahs, 2 Squadron of the South African Air Force, was South Africa's primary contribution to the United Nations Command during the Korean War, where it operated under American command. More than 200 officers and some 545 other ranks saw action in Korea between 1950 and 1953, along with some members from other branches of the Union Defence Forces. During the Korean War, South African pilots flew altogether 2,890 operational missions, during which 34 pilots and two ground crew were killed in action or listed as missing in action. Eight pilots were either shot down by Communist forces, or forced to land behind enemy lines and taken prisoner.[4][5]


The Korea Medal is a military campaign medal which was instituted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.[1][6]

Award criteria

The Korea Medal was awarded to volunteers of all ranks of the Union Defence Forces who served in the Korean theatre of operations for one day or more, between 19 September 1950 and 27 July 1953 inclusive.[1][7][8]

Order of wear

SAAF members who were killed or went missing in action in Korea

The position of the Korea Medal in the official order of precedence was revised three times after 1975, to accommodate the inclusion or institution of new decorations and medals, first upon the integration into the South African National Defence Force on 27 April 1994, again when decorations and medals were belatedly instituted in April 1996 for the two former non-statutory forces, the Azanian People's Liberation Army and Umkhonto we Sizwe, and again when a new series of military orders, decorations and medals was instituted in South Africa on 27 April 2003. Its position remained unchanged, as it was on 27 April 1994, upon the latter two occasions.[9]

South African Defence Force until 26 April 1994

South African National Defence Force from 27 April 1994



The Korea Medal was struck in nickel-silver, to fit in a circle 38 millimetres in diameter and 3 millimetres thick. Around the edge is a laurel wreath, the left branch spreading from the bottom of the medal to the top, while the right branch is shorter to allow space for the inscription "KOREA". The center has the words "VRYWILLIGERS" and "VOLUNTEERS", with outlines of the maps of the Korean Peninsula and South Africa, including South-West Africa. The maps are connected by a line with an arrowhead at each end and five wavy lines. Superimposed on the map of South Africa are the inscriptions "U. van S-A." and "U. of S.A.".[1]


The reverse has the pre-1994 South African Coat of Arms and Queen Elizabeth's royal cipher (E II R) above the Coat of Arms. The medal number is impressed at the bottom of the medal on the rim.


The ribbon is 32 millimetres wide, with a 6 millimetres wide orange band and a 5 millimetres wide dark blue band, repeated in reverse order and separated by a 10 millimetres wide light blue band in the centre.[1]

Mentioned in dispatches

A recipient of the Korea Medal who was mentioned in dispatches during the Korean War, was entitled to wear a bronze oak leaf on the medal ribbon and ribbon bar.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 South African Medal Website - SA Defence Force : 1952-1975 (Accessed 30 April 2015)
  2. South African Medal Website - SA Defence Force : 1975-2003 (Accessed 30 April 2015)
  3. Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 457, no. 25213, Pretoria, 25 July 2003
  4. "The Korean War ends | South African History Online". Sahistory.org.za. 1953-07-27. Retrieved 2014-05-13.
  5. Section "Check for Pre-1999 Messages" - Unit members - From: "J. Bolitho" Date: Tue, 18 Jun 1996 (Accessed 3 May 2015)
  6. Alexander, E.G.M., Barron, G.K.B. and Bateman, A.J. (1986). South African Orders, Decorations and Medals. Human and Rousseau.
  7. Monick, S, (1988). South African Military Awards 1912-1987. South African National Museum of Military History.
  8. 1 2 3 Republic of South Africa Government Gazette Vol. 477, no. 27376, Pretoria, 11 March 2005. OCLC 72827981 In the document, the printed identification number is 9771682584003.
  9. 1 2 Republic of South Africa Government Gazette no. 15093, Pretoria, 3 September 1993
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