A special action by Koreans who visited Ethiopia touched the hearts of people around the world during the 70th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice.
On May 18, an intricate cataract surgery was carried out by Koreans at a municipal hospital in Addis Ababa.
That operation was organized by Koreans as part of a project to facilitate eye examinations and complex surgeries such as those for cataracts for surviving Korean War veterans and their families in Ethiopia in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice.
In Ethiopia, 8.8 million of the total population of 115 million, that is 7.7%, are visually impaired, and there are only about 160 ophthalmologists.
Also in 1974, when they became a communist regime, the Korean War veterans were expelled and had their property confiscated for fighting for the opposition. They lived in extreme poverty and were not able to receive proper medical treatment.
The Koreans who planned this project were employees of the cosmetics brand Infresh. Recognizing that even daily activity is a challenge for most Ethiopian war veterans due to their severe visual impairment, they planned this large-scale surgery assistance project in collaboration with Vision Care, an international relief NGO dedicated to the prevention of blindness, and its Ethiopian branch.
They said, “We received great help from the Korean War veterans who sacrificed themselves for Korea, so it is our goal to provide the best support possible for every single one of them.” They announced, “Starting with Ethiopia, we are planning to visit and help veterans from 16 different countries.”
An Ethiopian war veteran who received cataract surgery through the project said, “I am grateful to the Koreans who did not forget what I did. I don’t have much time left to live, but I will remember it.” He then thanked the Koreans who sponsored him.
In response to the gratitude of so many veterans, a Korean who participated in the project stated, “We will always feel grateful for what the Ethiopian veterans did for us. We just did what we were supposed to do as Koreans,” conveying their sincere love for those they helped.
Many Ethiopians applaud this important relationship between the two countries that began 70 years ago with the Korean War as well as the Koreans who have not forgotten to express their gratitude even after such a long time has passed.