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South Korea sends 10K masks to Navajo Nation to honor service as 'code talkers' in Korean War

The South Korean government wanted to thank the Native Americans of Navajo Nation for their service so many decades ago.

South Korea sends 10K masks to Navajo Nation to honor service as 'code talkers' in Korean War
Image Source: RepGregStanton / Twitter

Editor's note: We are re-sharing some of the best moments and most important stories of 2020. Although it was a difficult year for nearly all of us, there were also shining moments of light and signs of hope. This was one of them.

Navajo Nation is one of the regions most affected by the ongoing pandemic. In comparison to infection and mortality rates across the United States, the residents of the Navajo Nation are disproportionately affected. The South Korean government recognized this and decided to help them out. Therefore, they delivered 10,000 masks and other Personal Protective Equipment to the region, The Korea Herald reports. The government claimed it was a way to honor Native Americans' service as "code talkers" during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. Code talkers were indigenous folks who utilized their native language as an indecipherable code for radio messages in order for the American military to maintain confidentiality.




The initiative was carried out by the Korean Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs in collaboration with the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix, Arizona, and United States Representative Greg Stanton. Medical students from the university gathered over the Memorial Day weekend to load supplies to distribute to the Native American community. In total, South Korea donated more than 10,000 N95 masks and 3.9 tons of supplies. The PPE was transported to the Navajo and Hopi Nations and other rural communities of northern Arizona. Representative Stanton said of the initiative, "What’s really special about this is that they heard about how difficult it was at the Navajo Nation and they wanted to help because the Navajo people helped them during the Korean War. This is a decades-long thank you, and for me, it’s very touching and beautiful."



Committee co-chairman Kim Eun-gi added, "The government remembers those who made noble sacrifices to defend a strange country 70 years ago, and we hope they will proudly tell their posterity about the choice they made so many years ago." The United States allied with South Korea during the Korean War, allowing them to ultimately sign the Korean Armistice Agreement with North Korea. While a peace treaty was never signed, forcing the two countries into a frozen conflict, the service of Native Americans was of immeasurable help.



This is only one of South Korea's initiatives to extend a helping hand to those who need it most during this challenging time. On Sunday, the country provided testing kits worth $1 million in humanitarian aid to Iran. Earlier this year, in April, the South Korean government also delivered $200,000 worth of medical equipment to the Middle Eastern nation. South Korea is one of the few countries to beat the pandemic. Through ensuring one of the highest testing rates per capita, the country was able to track and manage new cases with an efficiency unparalleled by many "developed" countries in the West.




In the United States, for instance, the number of deaths has crossed 100,000 people. Iran, too, is struggling; with over 120,000 active cases, it is one of the worst-affected nations across the world. Thankfully, South Korea and other countries have stepped up in recognition of the importance of cooperation and teamwork in a globalized world. While we may be closing off our borders, it is not the time to be closing off our hearts to our neighbors' struggles.



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