Scotland

Korea summit: 'I'm definitely not holding my breath'

01 Adam McKenzie, 90, deployed in Korea with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.JPG
Image caption Adam McKenzie, 90, deployed in Korea with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

Two 90-year-old Korean war veterans are not convinced the latest talks between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will prove to be successful.

It is a measure of just how long the military standoff on the Korean peninsula has been going on that 71-year-old Donald Trump was a young child when the Korean War broke out in 1950.

The resulting 65-year stalemate since the end of that conflict in 1953 has outlasted the original Cold War with the Soviet Union by a generation.

As Singapore prepares to host a summit between President Trump and the 34-year-old North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the BBC spoke to two British veterans of the "forgotten war".

Adam McKenzie, who is now 90 years old, was one of the first Scots deployed when the war broke out in 1950.

Image copyright Hulton Archive
Image caption Men of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders take cover as they advance into Chonju on the British front in North Korea

He began as a private, and by the end of the Korean war three years later, was a corporal in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

He was a driving force behind getting a memorial built in the hills above Bathgate in West Lothian.

More than 1,000 British soldiers lost their lives in the war and their names are remembered inside the pagoda, which is built in the traditional Korean style.

Mr McKenzie said it did not surprise him that the two halves of Korea were still separate after all this time.

Since the stalemate began in Korea, the Berlin Wall - separating east and west Europe during the Cold War - has risen and fallen.

Mr McKenzie said: "There is one big difference.

"With the Berlin Wall, the people in charge, the politicians etc, changed.

"North Korea has been ruled by the same family for years. While they are still in charge, they won't change."

Image caption Richard Gatford, 90, was lance-bombardier with 170 mortar battery, Royal Artillery

Mr McKenzie said the summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un looked like "two people playing games".

"I know a whole Korean community on the outskirts of Aberdeen and they are under the same impression," he said.

A little further east from the hills above Bathgate is the Erskine Edinburgh home for ex servicemen.

Richard Gatford, another 90-year-old Korean war vet, served as lance-bombardier with Royal Artillery's 170 Mortar Battery.

And like Mr McKenzie, he has plenty to say about the legacy of the war he fought in between 1950 and 1953.

Mr Gatford said the present-day leaders of the USA, North Korea and China were jockeying for position and they all wanted to be the big boss.

Image copyright Empics
Image caption President Donald Trump will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for the summit in Singapore

"I cannot see the three of them coming to a general agreement," he said.

"They are three individuals who are in it for their own benefit."

Mr Gatford said he would like to see Korea become one country again.

"When we first went there they were very poor, but now they could be very rich, the whole country," he said.

"As opposed to one bit being rich and the other bit being poor."

Mr Gatford said he was hopeful of a long-term solution, with the two countries reunifying.

"I think it is inevitable in the end, but it will take a bit of time getting there."

"I'm definitely not holding my breath."