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Ten grandchildren of New Zealand Korean War Veterans returned today from the First Peace Camp for Youth held in Korea and organised by the Government of the Republic of Korea. The camp was held between 1 and 7 July 2009 with those attending from New Zealand being selected by the New Zealand Korean War Veterans Association (NZKVA) from over 70 applicants. International flights, accommodation, meals and guides were provided by the Korean Government. This year’s New Zealand participants came from Whangarei, Auckland, Whangaparoa, Fielding, Otaki, Canterbury, Ashburton, and Invercargill with a total of 120 teenagers participating in the camp from Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
The State Visit to New Zealand by President Lee Myung-bak earlier this year reaffirmed the strength of the relationship between Korea and New Zealand. New Zeland’s contribution of 6,000 soldiers was significant and this camp is also representative of the Korea Government’s desire to further develop the friendly relationship and ensure that future generations will always remember the selfless sacrifices made on the Korea Peninsula by their forefathers.
In his welcome message for the camp, Mr. Yang Kim, the Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs in Korea (MPVA) who is planning to visit New Zealand later this month said that under the United Nations banner the grandparents of those attending the camp answered the call to defend a small country in a distant land they barely knew. Mr. Kim added that they came to Korea with a firm belief in democracy and freedom, and a hope for Korea's future, noting that their efforts, blood, sweat and tears laid the foundation for modern-day Korea, a noble sacrifice that was not in vain.
Highlights of the camp included a visit to the UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan, a tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and a tour of the Historic Park of Geoje Prisoner of War Camp. Other activities included visits to Royal Palaces, the National Museum of Korea, the vibrant Myongdong Shopping area and a tour of Samsung Heavy Industry.
This was the first International Youth Peace Camp that the Korean Government has hosted and intends to continue to host such camps in the future.
Further details about the camp including photographs taken on the camp can be found on the official website for the camp at http://youth-peace-camp.blogspot.com.
If you would like further information about the participants, the camp or Korea please contact Monica Kang, Public Affairs Manager, at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Wellington by email (email@example.com) or phone (04 473 9073).