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Ethiopian Korean War veterans enact departure for conflict

Ethiopian veterans of the Korean War have reenacted Ethiopian troops’ departure for the Korean Peninsula to fight for South Korea in the 1950-1953 conflict.

The Ethiopian Korean War Veterans Association held the enactment in Addis Ababa with about 150 veterans attending, Yonhap News reported from the eastern African state’s capital.

The association, which has held annual memorial services in early May, reenacted the departure for the first time to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the war.
Ethiopian Korean War veterans hold a framed commemoration poster during an event held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Saturday, to reenact Ethiopian troops’ departure for South Korea to fight the war. (Yonhap News)
Ethiopian Korean War veterans hold a framed commemoration poster during an event held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Saturday, to reenact Ethiopian troops’ departure for South Korea to fight the war. (Yonhap News)

“Korea was able to rise from poverty and the ruins of the war thanks to precious sacrifice and devotion by the veterans of U.N. allies including Ethiopia,” Kim Jong-geun, South Korean ambassador to Ethiopia, said during the ceremony. “As Ethiopia helped us, now it’s our turn to help Ethiopia.

Participants in the reenactment ceremony visited Holy Trinity Church in the capital to pay tribute to Korean War veterans whose remains are enshrined there.

In 1951, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie accepted the U.N. request to send troops to South Korea. When Ethiopia was invaded by Italy in October 1935, Selassie had condemned the League of Nations for its failure to act.

The Ethiopian troops, named Kagnew Battalion, reported departure at the emperor’s palace on April 13, 1951.

The first batch of 1,185 soldiers left Addis Ababa by train, arrived in Djibouti Port and a few days later boarded a U.S. military transport ship leaving for South Korea.

The Kagnew battalion entered the southeastern Korean port of Busan on May 6, 1951, after a three week voyage, and then served alongside U.S. soldiers during the war.

Ethiopia is the only African country to dispatch ground troops to the conflict. During the war, 123 of the 6,037 Ethiopian troops deployed to Korea died and 536 were wounded in action.

About 300 Ethiopian veterans are still alive.

By Chun Sung-woo  (swchun@heraldcorp.com)
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