Though South Korea currently imposes restrictions on exports of facemasks to ensure adequate domestic supply, the South Korean government provides an exception for humanitarian purposes, including to support Korean War veterans in 22 countries.
In remembrance of the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the Korean War Commemoration Committee with the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs (MPVA) announced that South Korea will send one million facemasks to veterans overseas. In cooperation with the prime minister's office, the foreign ministry, the food and drug administration, and the trade ministry, the Korean government is “repaying the favor given 70 years ago.”
The Republic of Korea Air Force transported 500,000 masks to the United States, home to the largest number of Korean War veterans. The aircraft carrying the supply of facemasks departed Gimhae Air Base and arrived at the Joint Base Andrews air force base in the United States on May 12, 2020. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed appreciation for the gesture in a Twitter post: “The United States sends its gratitude to this group in South Korea for your kind donation and generosity. #WeAreInThisTogether”
As Korean citizens have less difficulty buying masks, and the domestic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic improves, South Korea will consider sending additional provisions abroad.
Park Kyuyeon and Ross Tokola