(Video) Ethiopia and Korea: Brothers by blood



Brothers by blood. That's how the South Korean president described the relationship between Seoul and Addis Ababa... referring to Ethiopia's role in dispatching troops to help out during the Korean War.
It was the only African country to help a friend in need more than six decades ago.

Since then, the friendship between the two countries has slowly, but surely progressed.

South Korea and Ethiopia, a special relationship dating back to the 1950s... our News Feature tonight with Oh Soo-young.

Meet Addis Lulu, an Ethiopian student in chemical engineering who came to Korea two years ago. "Now I've completed my Korean language course for one year. So now I'm attending my master's program. I was able to come to Korea because my grandfather has a story with Korea."

Lulu's grandfather was one of thesix-thousand Ethiopian soldiers who defended South Korea during the Korean War.

Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie sympathized with Korea's ordeal under Japanese colonization... and dispatched the Kagnew infantry battalion to support the South against the attacks from the communist North.

The Ethiopian soldiers fought 253 battles during the 1950 to 53 war.

One-hundred-21 soldiers died in the conflict and more than 500 hundred were injured.

After the ceasefire in 1953, Ethiopia helped South Korea rebuild,... providing medical support and welfare.

To honor the veterans, Korea built a memorial center in 1968.

The center, in the shape of three African huts, is on Ethiopia Road in Chuncheon, Gangwon-do province, close to where the troops had been based.

Inside, there are ornaments, medals and war recordings, as well as exquisite cultural artifacts.
Across the street, there's a coffee shop that was built in 1968 by a Korean couple who was greatly moved by the veterans' support. "You can taste the fresh floral tones of Ethiopian coffee prepared the way you like it -- from traditionally brewed or perhaps a latte."

The family has kept the establishment alive with some of the finest Ethiopian coffee beans in the area... and traditional coffee roasting rites.

The establishment even had a visit from the Ethiopian emperor, and since then it's become a place of pilgrimage for Ethiopian diplomats and travelers alike.

"They shed tears when they come, remembering their emperor. Also, all kinds of diplomatic events and cultural exchanges with Ethiopia happen here at this coffee house."

In the decades following the war, Korea has developed quickly and is now the world's 13th largest economy.

It also transitioned from a recipient of official development assistance to a donor country in 2010,... the first in the world to do so.

Since 1991, Korea has been repaying Ethiopia's generosity with ODA. "In terms of the budget supported, it is the largest beneficiary among African countries. KOICA touches upon the areas of focus, which are health, education, rural development, ICT and climate change agenda."

Korean aid to Ethiopia has so far reached around 108 million U.S. dollars, and this year there are 11 bilateral projects underway.

Besides foreign aid, Korea also supports war veterans' descendants with academic scholarships for students in Ethiopiafunded by Hwacheon County, where the soldiers were based. "Many of the veterans' grandchildren in Ethiopia couldn't afford to go to school, but now most of them do, and they even go to university with our full support. We've supported 177 students since 2009 from elementary school to university."

"Most Ethiopians are grateful Koreans are helping, especially in education sector, taking scholarship students and building schools. It's good that Koreans are by our side."

Reflecting on President Park's state visit to Ethiopia, Lulu says he hopes for stronger ties between the two countries.

More than anything, he hopes the story of their friendship will be passed down and remembered by future generations.
Oh Soo-young, Arirang News.
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