From 25 to 27 July 2023, the Prime Minister, Minister of State, Xavier Bettel, is paying a visit to the Republic of Korea. The visit marks the 70th anniversary of the signing the Korean War Armistice (1950-1953).
Xavier Bettel is accompanied by 93-year-old Luxembourg veteran of the Korean War, Léon Moyen, as well as several family members of two former Luxembourg veterans. The presence of veteran Moyen is representative of all the Luxembourg soldiers who fought in Korea under the United Nations flag for freedom and the international rule of law.
The visit takes place in two phases, the first one being in Seoul, where the main event is a meeting with President Yoon. The second phase is Busan, the southern port city where the Luxembourg soldiers once landed.
25 July 2023
On 25 July, Prime Minister and Minister of State Xavier Bettel, accompanied by veteran Léon Moyen, is received by South Korean President Yoon Seok-youl for a meeting at the presidential palace. This meeting provides an opportunity to discuss the historical links between Luxembourg and South Korea, bilateral relations and current international events. At the end of the afternoon, the Prime Minister has an exchange with veteran Léon Moyen, during which they review his history and experience.
The first day ends with a dinner attended by representatives of Korean companies that have invested in Luxembourg. Xavier Bettel presents the Order of the Oak Crown to Younhee Kim, Executive Director of the Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office (LTIO) in Seoul, in recognition of his longstanding commitment.
26 July 2023
On 26 July, the Prime Minister, Minister of State Xavier Bettel, accompanied by the President of the Memorial, Seung-Joo Baek, visits the Korean War Memorial. He lays a wreath in memory of the fallen soldiers and in remembrance of the Luxembourg volunteers who fought for the independence of the Republic of Korea.
85 Luxembourg volunteers fought alongside the armed forces of the Republic of Korea. Among them, 2 died in combat and 17 were wounded. Today, 5 veterans are still alive. The Korean War was Luxembourg's first involvement in an international conflict after the end of the Second World War and the abandonment of its neutrality on 28 April 1948.
The delegation then travels by high-speed train to Busan, the country's second largest city, 453 km south-east of Seoul, where the 70th anniversary events continue.
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, still accompanied by veteran Léon Moyen, attends the ministerial summit dedicated to veterans' affairs. Keynote speeches are given by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, the South Korean Minister for Patriots and Veterans, Min-Sik Park, and representatives of the other countries that had sent soldiers or provided assistance. The summit is followed by a banquet dedicated to the veterans.
The trip to Busan is also an opportunity for the Prime Minister to visit the Kiswire factory.
The F1963 Cultural Centre, F for "factory" and 1963 for the year the factory was built, serves as the venue for a classical music concert and the swearing-in ceremony of the new Honorary Consul of Luxembourg in Busan and Chairman of Kiswire, Seok-Pyo Hong.
27 July 2023
The third and final day begins with a meeting with the Minister of Patriots and Veterans, Min-Sik Park.
On the morning of 27 July, at the invitation of the Mayor of Busan, the delegation from the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium is taking a boat tour of the Busan port.
The visit ends with a solemn ceremony organised by the Korean Ministry of Patriots and Veterans at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Korea (UNMCK), the only United Nations cemetery in the world. The cemetery contains the remains of 2,320 soldiers from 11 countries. The remains of soldiers from 7 countries, including Luxembourg, have all been repatriated to their respective countries.
The wreath-laying ceremony is attended by the President of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk-Yeoul, and representatives of the 16 countries that sent soldiers and equipment and the 6 countries that provided medical assistance during the three-year conflict. Luxembourg was represented by Xavier Bettel.
* Léon Moyen was enlisted on 5 February 1948. Shortly afterwards, on 15 April 1948, he was sent to the CTF in Germany to protect the coal trains that supplied the Luxembourg steel industry. Discharged in January 1949, he joined the army again following the government's call for volunteers for Korea. After successfully completing his training at the Beverloo Parachute Centre in Belgium, he embarked in Antwerp in December 1950 on board the "Kamina" with other Luxembourgish and Belgian soldiers to go to Korea.
During a patrol on 2 May 1951, he was wounded by an enemy bullet while in contact with a South Korean police station. After five first aid treatments in the field, he was transferred to two military hospitals in Japan. Despite his injury, he was one of the few soldiers from the first contingent to volunteer for a second tour, which was due to leave in February 1952. His main motivation was the camaraderie he had learned to appreciate among the Korean volunteers. Promoted to reserve sergeant before his second term, he then became a section leader. On his return from Korea, Léon was called up on several occasions to take part in joint military manoeuvres. Léon Moyen was born on 9 November 1930 in Kehmen, Luxembourg.
After leaving the military, Léon married and started a family in Toronto, Canada, where he still lives today. (Source: Service de la Mémoire de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale)