PPP's Lee Jun-seok meets Zelensky in Ukraine
Lee was the first Korean politician and first Asian political party leader to travel to the war-torn nation.
The PPP said the meeting was held Monday afternoon in an undisclosed location. Zelensky was said to have been accompanied by Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential office, and Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Denys Sharapov.
In a statement, the PPP said that Ukraine’s presidential office asked Korea to participate in restoration efforts once the war with Russia ends. Lee said he would relay the proposal to President Yoon Suk-yeol on his return to Seoul.
During the meeting, Lee compared Ukraine's war with the 1950-53 Korean War between South and North Korea, suggesting that Ukraine was in urgent need of international solidarity.
In a press release posted on the website of Ukraine’s presidential office on Tuesday, a picture showed Lee and his delegation holding a meeting with Yermak and two other people who appeared to be his aides.
Zelensky was not seen in the photo.
“During the meeting, the parties noted the importance of the fact that the high-level Korean delegation saw the situation in Ukraine personally,” read the English-language release, “as well as visited Bucha and Irpin, where it had an opportunity to see the consequences of the horrific war crimes committed by Russian invaders.”
The release continued: “The visit and its results will help identify key areas for further deepening cooperation between the two countries, in particular during the reconstruction of Ukraine’s regions.”
Zelensky’s office noted that both sides discussed post-war cooperation in the field of an “innovative automotive industry.”
While the issue of military aid was not specifically mentioned, the release said Yermak “separately” touched upon the issue of “security guarantees for Ukraine.”
In a virtual address to Korea’s National Assembly in April, Zelensky asked Korea to send anti-aircraft weapons, which Seoul has refused to do. Korea has provided Ukraine with only humanitarian relief and non-lethal military supplies such as bulletproof helmets, blankets and medical supplies, according to Seoul’s Ministry of National Defense.
The Lee-Zelensky meeting came days after Lee’s delegation left for Ukraine last Friday night for a week-long trip.
Lee, a Harvard graduate, has a history of traveling to foreign locations under distress, a move that some critics see as showboating.
The Ukrainian government has received several foreign delegations and leaders since the outbreak of the war, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and American first lady Jill Biden.
BY LEE SUNG-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]