“I would like to express my gratitude to South Korean people who helped to overcome COVID-19.”
The characters in the letter, which at a glance looks like it was written by a young child who just learned Korean, are carefully written one by one in earnest. The letter with poor handwriting and Korean grammar was written by Melese Tessema, the head of the Ethiopian Korean War Veterans Association. Tessema took a picture of his hand-written letter in Korean on Wednesday, two days before Hangul Day, and delivered it to Chilgok, North Gyeongsang Province via his social media account. Chilgok is where the Battle of Tabu-dong took place, the most ferocious battle during the Korean War. Many Ethiopian soldiers lost their lives at this battle.
The Chilgok local government held the “6037 campaign” in April upon the news that Ethiopian Korean War veterans are struggling due to COVID-19. The number 6037 refers to the number of Ethiopian soldiers who fought during the Korean War. As the campaign attracted participants from not only Chilgok but also across the country, 30,000 masks were donated, which was five times more than the original target. The Chilgok government gave the masks and other protective equipment to the Ethiopian Embassy in South Korea in June.
Tessema first wrote the letter in English and asked a South Korean volunteer in the country to translate it. As if drawing a picture, he copied Korean characters one by one to finish a hand-written letter. “The Korean language follows clear and systemic rules so it wasn’t difficult to copy the letter. I fell in love with the language as much as the country,” said Tessema.