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Korean War veterans receive surprise face masks

Posted May. 25, 2020 07:46,   

Updated May. 25, 2020 07:46


A French veteran who served in the Korean War expressed his gratitude toward the South Korean government that sent him a package of face masks. “Thank you for caring about us still to this day although it has been 70 years,” Paul Laurent said.

The South Korean Embassy in France announced on Sunday (local time) that it delivered COVID-19 face masks to Korean War veterans and their families in a show of gratitude.

Then-Sergeant First Class Paul Laurent was mobilized to fight in the Korean War in 1952 after voluntarily joining the French Armed Forces, according to the South Korean Embassy in France. He took part in multiple combats during his one-year stay in Korea as part of the French troops that were assigned to the second division of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The 80-year-old Korean War veteran recalled that a trench battle was unfolding against the North Korean troops and the Chinese Communist Army. After leaving Korea in October 1953, he continued serving the military. Back in 1974, Mr. Laurent returned to his motherland after wrapping up his 25 years’ military life. Now he lives in Agneaux, a small city in the Normandy region in northwestern France.

Earlier this month, the South Korean Embassy in France decided to send COVID-19 face masks to war veterans in France as a thank-you for their service. It has since last week delivered 20,000 face masks to veterans, their families and nursing hospitals. The decision was made as part of efforts to help France address shortages of personal protective equipment as the nation’s death toll has neared 30,000 with more than 180,000 confirmed cases reported.

To Mr. Laurent’s surprise, a parcel of face masks was delivered by the South Korean government to his mail box. “I am grateful that South Korea still remembers us. The South Korean embassy in France plans to hold a mask delivery ceremony with French veterans in presence as its building on Wednesday. Given that the COVID-19 pandemic has not calmed down yet across the nation, the embassy will invite a minimum number of attendees to the event.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com