South Korea officially launched the upgraded veterans affairs ministry on Monday, in a show of its renewed commitment to commemorating and honoring those who sacrificed themselves for the nation.
The upgrade of the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs from the previous sub-ministry level to full-fledged ministry status was among the 110 policy tasks pursued by the Yoon Suk Yeol administration launched in May last year.
At the ministry in Sejong, 130 kilometers south of Seoul, Park Min-shik, the first veterans minister under the Yoon administration, took office, pledging efforts to better honor national heroes and foster a social climate in support for them. He had led the pre-upgrade unit from May last year.
"I will make efforts to ensure that the ministry, which just took its first step forward, will fare successfully and that rewarding patriotism will be entrenched as the nation's spiritual foundation and culture," he said in his inauguration speech.
Park also said that he will try to make honoring veterans and patriots "core values" toward a "sustainable future" beyond just rewarding sacrifices and contributions for what happened in the past.
The minister reiterated his ministry will push for a plan to create a new iconic park -- similar to the National Mall in Washington, DC -- in the central Seoul district of Yongsan to commemorate war veterans and other patriots.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by some 300 people, including Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, Vice Defense Minister Shin Beom-chul and foreign diplomats.
The ministry's upgrade will give greater authority to the minister as he has now become a full-fledged member of the Cabinet. The number of its employees will also increase by 26 to 337, according to officials. (Yonhap)