Korean citizens pitch in to help support Ukraine
The humanitarian crisis sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine has inspired an outpouring of charitable donations by Korean individuals to support the country's military and refugees fleeing the war.
The invasion of Ukraine by its much larger and stronger neighbor appears to have struck a chord with Koreans, who see historical parallels between the former Soviet republic and their own country.
“The situation in Ukraine is not irrelevant to Korea,” said Lee Hyun-seo (25), a college student who said he donated 100,000 won ($83) to the United Nations Refugee Agency after seeing posts on social media from friends who said they had donated to the Ukrainian cause. “Korea has a lot in common with [a country like] Ukraine, which suffers from security concerns between the major powers.”
Korean social media has been flooded with hundreds of posts within the past week announcing monetary support for the besieged country and its people fleeing war.
A 30-year-old office worker, who asked to be only identified by the surname Seo, told the JoongAng Ilbo that he donated 100,000 won to the Ukrainian Red Cross after seeing news reports of “innocent civilians being sacrificed for the greed of a superpower,” which he “couldn’t ignore.”
Ukraine’s Ambassador-Designate to Korea, Dmytro Ponomarenko, posted Tuesday on Twitter a photo and a translation of a letter written by actor Lee Young-ae, accompanied by a check for 100 million won, which he said Lee had donated in support of the country.
In the letter translation, the actor, who rose to international fame through the historical drama “Dae Jang Geum,” (2003) wrote, “As a family of veterans who have experienced through war, I sympathize with the horrors of the current situation.”
The actress also wrote that she prays for "everyone's well-being and safety," and encouraged “Ukrainian citizens who are calling for freedom and peace” to “not lose [their] courage and hope.”
Korean donations to humanitarian causes related to Ukraine were also conducted via cryptocurrencies, which some contributors said could be of more direct assistance than regular fiat transfers.
A 38-year-old office worker, who asked to be identified only by the surname Lee, said he donated an unspecified amount of Bitcoin into a cryptocurrency wallet address uploaded onto the Ukrainian government’s official Twitter account.
Cryptocurrency investors worldwide have donated more than $22 million in digital assets to the Ukrainian government and a nonprofit supporting the country’s military, according to data provided by the blockchain tracking firm Elliptic on Monday evening.
“I heard that if you donate through an international organization, a lot of money leaks out during the transfer process, so the actual amount delivered is not much. Cryptocurrency can be more useful than real assets in an emergency situation,” Lee said.
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]