Out in the Cold: Australia's involvement in the Korean War

In the aftermath of the Second World War (1939-1945), communities were still coming to terms with the devastation which that conflict had caused, and the millions it had killed. Yet only five years after the end of this war, another was to break out, and again Australia would commit its forces. It was the Korean War.

Korea was a place that few Australians knew much about, until 1950. From 1950-53, 17,000 Australians in the Army, Navy and Air Force fought as part of the United Nations (UN) multinational force, defending South Korea from the Communist force of North Korea. After the war ended, Australians remained in Korea for four years as military observers. Since then, Australia has maintained a presence, discharged by the Australian Military Attaché.

Australia's involvement in the Korean War won much praise from other nations. Awards and decorations given to Australians during the war totalled 615, while awards given to Australians by other countries numbered 173. Australia also gained many political and security benefits, the most important being the signing of the ANZUS Treaty with the United States and New Zealand.

The cost of the war in Korea was immense, particularly for its people. The attempt by the Communist North to unite Korea under its rule had been stopped, but it had killed more than two million people, and turned many Korean civilians into homeless refugees.

Today, Korea is still divided into North and South.


A listing of maps used throughout this site.

Rosalind Hearder researched and wrote the text. Additional content was provided by Chris Goddard.

Touring schedule
Gallery City State Start Finish
Australian War Memorial, SEG Canberra ACT 15 April 2000 18 Jun 2000
Newcastle Region Art Gallery Newcastle NSW 8 August 2000 8 October 2000
Grafton Regional Gallery Grafton NSW 24 January 2001 25 February 2001
 Dubbo Regional Gallery Dubbo NSW 9 March 2001 29 April 2001
Hervey Bay Regional Gallery Hervey Bay QLD 5 May 2001 10 June 2001
Perc Tucker Regional Gallery Townsville QLD 16 August 2001 23 September 2001
Shepparton Art Gallery Shepparton VIC 10 October 2001 18 November 2001
Gosford City Arts Centre Gosford NSW 14 December 2001 3 February 2001