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S. Korea to send wildfire team to Canada

By Choi Si-young

Published : June 29, 2023 - 17:52

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Foreign Minister Park Jin speaks during an interagency meeting on the wildfires in Canada at the ministry headquarters in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap) Foreign Minister Park Jin speaks during an interagency meeting on the wildfires in Canada at the ministry headquarters in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)

The South Korean government has decided to send a disaster relief team to Canada to help contain the wildfires there, the Foreign Ministry in Seoul said Thursday.

The 151-member team, which includes firefighters, first responders and personnel experienced in disaster response, will land in Canada on Wednesday for a 30-day mission, according to an announcement made during an interagency meeting chaired by Foreign Minister Park Jin.

“I hope the team offers momentum for South Korea and Canada to take their ties to the next level beyond just working together on containing the wildfires,” Park said at the meeting, noting wildfires there had affected at least 8.2 million hectares of land. The team will be in Lebel-sur-Quevillon in the province of Quebec.

This marks the second time Korea has dispatched a disaster relief team this year, following a previous mission to Turkey in February when it was hit by earthquakes. So far the US has sent the biggest rescue team to Canada, which includes at least 1,200 personnel, followed by Australia and New Zealand, with a combined team of at least 400 rescuers.

This Canada mission is meant not only to forge new ties with Canada, a friendly nation and a strategic partner, but deliver on the Korean government’s resolve to realize its role as a “global pivotal state,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Yoon administration, which last year unveiled its Indo-Pacific Strategy, has since been working on taking on a bigger role on the international stage to show that Seoul is just as much invested in helping the world as it is in advancing its economic and political interests.