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S. Korea to send masks to Korean War veterans abroad

Slogan of the Korean War Commemoration Committee (Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs)
Slogan of the Korean War Commemoration Committee (Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs)

A total 1 million masks will be delivered to Korean War veterans globally to recognize their sacrifices for this country, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Korean War Commemoration Committee said Thursday.

Twenty-two nations that provided either ground or medical support will benefit from the distribution.

The US, which supplied over 90 percent of overseas troops deployed here, will receive half of the million, while the other 21 countries will share the other half based on the level of their contributions and the number of people there who are suffering from the respiratory disease.

Seoul is flying a military transport plane Friday to ship the supplies to Washington, while arranging for its embassies in the other recipient countries to receive the protective gear.

The veterans, with an average age of 88, belong to the group most vulnerable to the pathogen, the committee said.

The commemoration committee was launched in January this year to remember contributions of the 1950-53 Korean War veterans. It plans to host events here and abroad to mark the 70th anniversary of the war that left about 140,000 casualties among foreign allies, roughly a quarter of which were deaths.

Diverting mask supplies overseas is prohibited in Korea, as the country imposed a rationing system in March, but the delivery to war veterans will be exempt from the rule on humanitarian assistance grounds.

“In mid-May at the latest, the veterans will receive the masks and we are planning on extending supplies once our situation here gets better,” an official at the committee said.

By Choi Si-young (