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The government of South Korea created the medal nearly 50 years ago in appreciation for foreign soldiers who helped fight its war against North Korea and China. All nations but one authorized their Korean War veterans to wear it. For reasons never fully explained, U.S. veterans were prohibited.
That all changed on Aug. 20, 1999, when the Pentagon finally approved the medal as an official award to be worn on military uniforms.
According to VFW's Director of National Security and Foreign Affairs Bruce Harder, South Korea (officially the Republic of Korea) sets the eligibility requirements because it is a ROK award, not a U.S. award.