S.Korea Memorial Day ceremony toned down amid pandemic

South Korea’s annual Memorial Day service was a low-key event on Saturday as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 pandemic that has infected more than 11,000 people in the country.

Veterans, patriots and family members of those who took part in the Korean War and the country’s independence and democracy movements, as well as public servants who died on the frontline against the pandemic, attended the 65th Memorial Day ceremony, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Seven family members and survivors of the 2010 sinking of the Cheonan warship and the artillery shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, also attended the event.

President Moon Jae-in and the leaders of the ruling and opposition political parties also attended the event.

“A country should repay all sacrifices and devotion,” Moon said during his speech broadcast live.

“The government will forever remember those who made the Republic of Korea what it is today and inscribe (their feats) in history.”

The ceremony, which was initially planned to be held at the National Cemetery in Seoul, was relocated to Daejeon, 160 km south of the capital, amid a continued rise in virus cases in the metropolitan area.

Officials said they tightened quarantine guidelines and reduced the number of invited guests from last year’s 10,000 to around 300 to reduce the risk of infection.