arirang news

Puerto Rican and American Korean War veterans visit Korea Updated: 2017-09-20 09:25:45 KST

A group of Korean War veterans flew halfway around the world to revisit the site of the battlefield they once fought in as teenagers many years ago.

"It's been over half a century since the Korean War, but the people of South Korea still remember and appreciate the sacrifice these veterans and their families made defending the freedom we enjoy today."

What's special about this visit is that half the veterans and their families on the Revisit Korea Program are from Puerto Rico, a Caribbean island -- five times the size of Jeju Island -- under the jurisdiction of the U.S.
Out of the 61-thousand Puerto Ricans who served in the 65th Infantry Regiment, 756 passed away and a hundred are still missed in action.

But one of them who hasn't stepped on Korean soil for 67 years says he clearly remembers everything about the destructive war and is taken aback by the immense advances Korea has made.

"The advance and the recuperation that South Korea has made since the war. Because the war was left Korea almost without anything. And they have done an amazing job trying to rebuild and I'm surprised the way they have done this."

The veterans had time to reflect on the war as they paid a silent tribute to honor their fellow soldiers at the Seoul National Cemetery.
They also had a chance to experience Korean culture at an event prepared by the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.

"We began this Revisit Korea Program in 1975. Our ministry looks to invite as many veterans as possible to show them around Korea while they are still alive."

Dressed in the Korean traditional clothing "Hanbok", and taking an introductory Korean class, the veterans enjoyed their visit.

"It changed so much. For instance, when we came first time, there were only 1 or 2 bridges across the Han River. And now I understand there are 31 or 32."

Korea's 51 million citizens will always remember the dedication these veterans of the United Nations forces made some 60 years ago.
Cha Sang-mi, Arirang News.
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