Seoul—Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeo on Tuesday paid tribute to the fallen heroes of the Korean War for their great sacrifices in defense of freedom and democracy.
Lee led the historic celebration of the 69th anniversary of the Korea War at the Jangchung Stadium here this morning.
The war broke out on June 25, 1950, when tens of thousands of Chinese and North Korean soldiers invaded South Korea.
Twenty-one freedom-loving countries, including the Philippines, sent combat forces in response to the urgent call by the United Nations to help the beleaguered South Korean government.
Hundreds of surviving South Korean soldiers now in their ‘80s and ‘90s attended the hour-long ceremony reminiscing their war exploits from 1950-55.
A Philippine delegation led by retired Lt. Gen. Ernesto G. Carolina, administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, is expected to arrive here Friday on the invitation of the South Korean government.
In his speech, Lee cited the gallantry of the Koreans and allied troops, who fought the Chinese and North Korean forces in numerous pitch battles that held off the invasion of the enemy.
Official records show that 133,996 allied forces were killed during the war.
The United States, which sent 1,789,000 troops, had 33,686 killed in action (KIA), the heaviest casualties among the allied forces.
In his speech, Lee thanked the allied forces, who fought side-by-side with the South Koreans despite being outnumbered.
He also thanked the families of the fallen heroes for the great and agonizing sacrifices they underwent upon knowing that their loved ones were killed in the fighting.
When the war broke out in Korea in 1950, the Philippines was the first country in Asia to send combat troops to South Korea.
A total of 7,420 Filipino soldiers belonging to five battalions of the Philippine Expedition Force to Korea (PEFTOK) -- the 2nd, 10th, 14th, 19th, and 20th, saw action in Korea.
PEFTOK was the sixth largest allied combat forces that fought in the Korean. PEFTOK suffered 112 killed, 299 wounded, 16 missing in action and 41 captured.
Lee said that during the war, South Korea was in ruins but through the years it struggled hard with patience and successfully progressed economically, making it a highly developed country as it is today.