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‘Only reunification will end Korean war’


North Koreans walk among tombstones of soldiers who died from the war to pay their respects, at the cemeteries of fallen fighters of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) on Thursday, July 25, 2013 in Pyongyang, North Korea as part of ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended hostilities on the Korean peninsula. AP

SEOUL—“I think that only a reunification of the two Koreas will mark an end to the Korean War,” Park Sung Choon, Minister of Patriot and Veteran Affairs, said Thursday.

Park said it would be difficult to say when that would happen but said South Korea “should think about what we should do to prepare for that future.”

The two Koreas are set to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the declaration of a ceasefire between the two countries, following the war that took place from 1950 to 1953. With the absence of a peace treaty, South Korea and North Korea remain technically at war.

From the Incheon airport to the streets of Seoul are advertisements drumming up the anniversary celebration to be held tomorrow at the War Memorial of Korea here.

Eight Filipino war veterans, led by former President Fidel Ramos, are expected to attend the ceremonies.

The Philippines was among the 67 United Nations member-countries that responded to the UN’s call to help defend South Korea from the communist North’s sudden invasion on June 25, 1953.

It was a war to defend South Korea’s democracy and sovereignty.

The Philippines sent more than 7,000 combat troops and suffered more than 100 casualties.

“For all of our UN allies, we are very grateful and thankful for the support during the Korean War and the people of Korea will never forget what the UN allies have done for Korea,” Park said.

Park was a 5-year-old boy when the war broke out, remembering only that his family fled to another city on a small fishing boat. “Big waves hit the boat and I had seasickness and I hid under the blankets,” he recalled.

Park said “appreciation events” have always been part of his ministry’s programs as a way to extend gratitude to South Korea’s ally nations, and have the “Revisit Korea” program for the veterans and their descendants.

In the Philippines, the Korean government has built a Korean War Memorial as well.

Asked what lesson Korea has learned from the war, Park said: “Freedom is not free. Through the Korean War, we understood that strong national security is very important to defend our country and because of the geopolitical location of Korea, we understood that it is very important to have strong allies.

“Since the inception of the United Nations, no country ever accepted support from 63 countries (for a war). That one and only exceptional country was Korea,” he said.

The Korean War holds a Guinness Book of Records for that.

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Tags: 2 Koreas , ceasefire commemoration , Korean War , North Korea , Philippines , reunification , South Korea

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