A group of Irish veterans of the Korean War will return to South Korea this year to mark the 60th anniversary of the war’s end, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has confirmed following a meeting in Seoul with the Korean Minister for Patriots and Veterans Affairs.
Minister Varadkar also announced that a memorial will be unveiled in the South Korean capital during the veterans’ visit to commemorate to those of Irish birth and heritage who died during the Korean War.
The Minister is currently on a tourism and trade visit to South Korea and Japan and was speaking after meeting Minister Park Sung-choon, the Korean Minister for Patriots and Veterans Affair.
“With the support of the Irish Embassy and local sponsors, a group of around 14 Irish veterans will travel to Korea at the end of April for a ‘revisit’ organised by the Government of Korea, and the Commonwealth Veterans Association. In addition to marking 30 years of diplomatic relations, Ireland and Korea this year celebrate 80 years since the arrival of the Columban missionaries in Korea and 60 years since the end of the Korea War in which many Irish born men fought and died, as well as seven Columban priests and an Irish nun,” Minister Varadkar said.
“A memorial will be unveiled during their visit by the Irish Embassy in cooperation with the Somme Association of Northern Ireland and the Irish Association of Korea, to commemorate those of Irish birth and heritage who died during the Korean War. I am delighted that Minister Park is supporting this initiative and is planning to attend the unveiling ceremony, which will take place at the Seoul War Memorial, the official site for the commemoration of the war.
“The contribution of Irish men and women to Irish-Korean relations is little known and often overlooked. This year offers an opportunity to highlight this contribution. The Irish Government is recognising this by supporting the construction of this new memorial through our Emigrant Support Programme.
“The cooperation of the Irish and British authorities in the revisit of the veterans has been made possible by the tremendous improvement in Anglo-Irish relations in recent years, a very positive outcome of the Northern Ireland peace process and the ongoing reconciliation of the two traditions on the island of Ireland.”
Minister Varadkar thanked Minister Park and his colleagues for their cooperation with the Irish Embassy in South Korea in marking the involvement of those, Irish born or of Irish heritage, who gave their lives during the Korean War, many fighting with Commonwealth and US forces.
“I was also delighted to get the opportunity of meeting the thriving Irish community in Korea and to discuss opportunities for increasing diplomatic and economic cooperation between Ireland and Korea,” Minister Varadkar said.
Note for Editors
During his visit to South Korea, Minister Varadkar has:
• Met with the leadership of Hanwha Corporation, one of Korea’s top ten family conglomerates on opportunities for future cooperation;
• Held meetings with Irish companies and their partners trading in Korea;
• Held discussions with his counterpart the Minister for Culture, Tourism & Sport, Yoo Jin-Ryong, on promoting tourism between Ireland and Korea;
• Attended and addressed over 340 Irish and Korean guests at the National Day Reception, celebrating 30 years of diplomatic relations.