South Korea Ambassador Han Dong Man

MANILA – Seven decades since the Korean War, the Philippines, and South Korea remain united, this time against a more formidable enemy — the coronavirus.

And just as the Philippines came to its aid in June 1950, Seoul is now extending its hand to assist Filipinos to cope with the pandemic through a series of donations, capacity-building efforts, and provision of the much needed personal protective equipment and test kits.

“Seventy years after the Korean War, as the Philippines and Korea once again unite to face a hidden enemy that is more insidious and seemingly unbeatable, I am confident that we will, like in the past, prevail with the solid friendship and alliance that has become the foundation of our bilateral relationship,” South Korean Ambassador Han Dong-man said in his message for the 70th anniversary of Korean War posted on Philippine Star.

Last April 2020, it provided coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) test kits that can yield a total of 35,000 tests valued at USD500,000 (approximately PHP25.38 million) further boosting Manila’s testing capacity.

Seoul also donated some 50,000 face masks to the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) and the Veterans Federation of the Philippines through the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs reflecting its lasting recognition to the veteran soldiers’ valor and selfless act when the war broke out in 1950.

The Philippines was the first Asian country to send combat troops — a total of 7,420 elite PEFTOK members — when communist North Korea invaded South Korea. After the bloody battle to regain the latter’s freedom, PEFTOK suffered a total of 112 casualties, over 300 wounded, and 16 missing-in-action.

For Han, the Filipino soldiers’ sacrifice and bravery had laid a “solid foundation” to the enduring partnership and friendship between Seoul and Manila.

In light of the current health crisis, the envoy echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s message for the war’s 70th anniversary that “the solidarity and sacrifice must be remembered in this difficult time”.

“The Philippines and Korea should go hand-in-hand based on the spirit of solidarity that 70 years ago our predecessors have shown for defending our common values and overcoming the common challenges confronting us,” Han said. (PNA)ia

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