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Korea launches unit to help rebuild storm-hit Philippines

Korea launches unit to help rebuild storm-hit Philippines

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Published : 2013-12-09 19:18
Updated : 2013-12-09 19:18

The Korean military launched a unit on Monday to support the reconstruction efforts in the Philippines after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.

The launch ceremony was officiated by Army Chief of Staff Kwon Oh-sung, with an attendance of about 600 soldiers and officials, including its commander Army Col. Lee Cheol-won.

The unit consists of 526 soldiers selected through a competition. Most of them come from engineer units, with the rest from medical, transport, signal and special warfare units. Special warfare soldiers will take up duties as guards. They also come from four military branches ― the army, the navy, the air force and the marine corps.

It is the first time Korea has created a joint unit of the four branches to be dispatched overseas. The Philippines is the 19th foreign country to which Korean troops have been sent.

The unit was approved by the National Assembly, which passed a motion on Dec. 5 to dispatch soldiers to help rebuild the Southeast Asian country after the recent disaster. Typhoon Haiyan devastated Tacloban City on Nov. 8. The storm left more than 5,000 dead in the country and displaced 4.2 million people.

The unit will be stationed in Tacloban where they will provide disaster relief and support reconstruction. They are to depart for the Philippines in mid-December and complete their mission on Dec. 31 the following year.

The Philippines is an ally whose soldiers fought against North Korea as part of the U.N. forces during the Korean War (1950-53).

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

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