South Korea honors Filipino soldiers who fought in Korean War

South Korea paid tribute to the heroism of Filipino soldiers who fought in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953.  

(Photos courtesy of MPAV)

Minister Park Sam-duck of Korea’s Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs (MPVA) led the ceremony on September 18 at the Korean War Monument to the Philippine Armed Forces in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, which was erected on Oct. 2, 1974 by the Ministry of National Defense.

The monument was built “in memory of the members of the Philippine Armed Forces who fought to defend the security and freedom of the Republic of Korea,” according to the inscription. 

The ceremony was held to mark the 70th anniversary of the first arrival of Philippines troops in South Korea on Sept. 19, 1950 in Busan. 

"Seven decades ago, many of the United Nations troops sacrificed themselves for South Korea, which most of them had not known or heard of before. A total of 1.97 million troops came to the country and around 500,000 of them died in the war,” the Korea Times quoted Minister Park. Joining him in honoring the Filipino heroes were Charge d’Affaires Christian de Jesus of the Philippine Embassy in South Korea, UN Command Deputy Commander Vice Admiral Stuart Mayer, Goyang Mayor Lee Jae-joon, and Republic of Korea Army 1 Corps Deputy Commander Jang Gwang-seon.

"We always say our brotherhood is forged in blood. And throughout these years, the Philippines has seen Korea develop from war-torn to now being one of the richest and advanced countries in the world," said De Jesus. 

"The Philippines continues to be a partner with Korea and our relationship has grown every year and we've managed to strengthen not only our people to people exchanges but also our trade and investment partnership and our security and defense," De Jesus added.

The Korean War erupted on June 25, 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea. On Sept. 7, 1950, the Philippine Congress passed Republic Act 573 (The Philippine Military Aid to the UN Act) that authorized the sending of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) to help South Korea in the war. 

A total of 7,420 Filipino soldiers served in Korea from 1950 to 1955 including the end of the Korean War in 1953 and until 1955 consisting of five Battalion Combat Teams (BCTs). According to the MPVA, 112 Filipino soldiers died, 288 were wounded, 16 went missing in action and 41 became prisoners of war. 

The Philippines was the first Asian country and third in the world after the United States and United Kingdom to send troops to South Korea. 

Minister Park said events scheduled this year to honor war veterans were cancelled due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic “but we could still express our gratitude to the veterans by sending them face masks.” MPVA sent 50,000 face masks to the Philippines in May. 

The inscription on the Korean War Monument to the Philippine Armed Forces in Goyang reads: “The relief of 50 people on the front of the foundation represents the desperate struggle of the Korean people to overcome frustration and win their freedom and establish peace, while the relief on the front of the pillar depicts the culture of the Philippines.”