Today marks World Korean Day. Every year on this day, I have met overseas Koreans from many parts of the globe and exchanged gratifying greetings with them. This year, however, I present my compliments to you online instead of meeting in person. I wonder how you have observed Chuseok and how deep the longing for hometowns and families that could not be seen has become.
The lives of the 7.5 million Koreans in 193 countries are never separated from their homeland for even an instant. From faraway countries, they sent their hard-won money to fund the independence movement during the colonial period. They have also walked together along their home country’s path toward economic development, democratization and peace. I am deeply grateful to all of you who have shared in our joy and sorrow.
Our compatriots overseas have come together once more in the face of COVID-19. In March, from China, Japan and Southeast Asia to Europe and Africa, Koreans abroad sent epidemic prevention supplies and charitable donations to those suffering from COVID-19 in their homeland. With Korean communities overseas playing a central role, they also gave away face masks and daily necessities and collected donations to help microbusiness owners and other vulnerable ethnic Korean populations. Some of them donated anti-virus supplies to local hospitals, police stations and nursing homes for Korean War veterans. I am truly proud of our overseas Koreans who have set an example of solidarity and cooperation in many parts of the world.
The Government has also supported the efforts of Korean communities abroad. We have strengthened healthcare and medical support programs with a focus on overseas Koreans residing in developing countries and delivered supplies for epidemic prevention and control to elderly Koreans and Korean War veterans abroad who are vulnerable to COVID-19 as well as to families that had adopted Korean children. We have safely brought 49,000 overseas Koreans who wanted to return home back to their homeland from 120 countries by deploying specially chartered planes, Air Force cargo planes and even aerial refueling tankers.
COVID-19 has reminded us of the lesson that there should not be a single blind spot in healthcare and medical services in the global village. The Government will share the achievements and experiences of Korea's COVID-19 responses with the international community, including collaborating with the 10 ASEAN countries to strengthen COVID-19 diagnostic capabilities, and focus efforts on humanitarian assistance and development cooperation for the sake of joint responses to infectious diseases.
The Republic of Korea today has developed through the great patronage and lessons received from compatriots who have worked hard for their homeland. Now is the time for the country to play its role. We will do all we can to give you courage and pride; whenever you are weary and exhausted, you will know that your homeland, the Republic of Korea, is always there for you. With the hope of meeting you again, I wish you the best of health and happiness.