When the Korean War began Italy was a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member nation but they were not a member of the United Nations. When the Red Cross put out a request for help, Italy sent its Italian Red Cross Hospital 68 to South Korea for support. The hospital unit arrived on November 16, 1951.

Italy sent a team of seven doctors, six nurses, a Chaplain, and 50 non-commissioned officers, and within a month had established the Italian Red Cross Hospital 68 in a vacant school. The 50-bed hospital, located in Yongdongpo, a suburb of Seoul, provided medical care in three divisions: pediatrics, general medicine, and surgery, and also provided ophthalmology and dental facilities.
One year after the hospital was established, it burned to the ground. No one was lost in the fire and by February 1953 the hospital had been rebuilt and expanded to 145 beds. From June 1952 to July 1953 the hospital treated 1,639 in-patients, performed over 3,297 surgeries, and treated over 74,000 out-patients.
The 68th Hospital was awarded two Republic of Korea Presidential Citations for their service. On January 2, 1955 the Italian Red Cross ceased operating in Korea and donated all of their hospital equipment to the South Korean government.