14 February 2020
Christchurch Air Cadet Emma Catto had a valuable cultural experience and a priceless opportunity to remember her family history at the recent Korean Vision Camp 2020 in Wellington and Waikanae.
The Camp last week brought together young people from South Korea and New Zealand, some of whom were descendants of Korean War veterans.
A Statement of Intent that was signed in Seoul last year between Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand and South Korea’s Ministry of Patriots, during which Veterans Affairs agreed that the Camp would be held in New Zealand this year.
Ms Catto, 21, an Acting Pilot Officer with No. 17 Squadron Air Training Corps and a Youth Ambassador at the Battle of Passchendaele commemorations in Belgium in 2017, applied for the camp after finding out about it through the Youth Ambassadors’ Facebook network.
Her grandfather, James (Jim) Alexander Catto, deployed on two tours as a signaler to the Korean War, in 1951 and 1953.
“I think it’s really good that they’ve brought together the descendants of South Korean veterans and New Zealand veterans, because it was a time when the two nations really worked together,” she said.
She found the experience of commemorating the Korean War with South Koreans emotional and moving, because it was the first time she had connected with people her grandfather fought to defend.
“It was really meaningful to do a reading with my Korean buddy because our grandfathers fought on the same side during the war. Connecting with her on this Camp was really special,” she said.
Ms Catto, who graduated from the University of Canterbury with a Bachelor of Arts and is now completing a Bachelor of Commerce, said there was value in young people engaging with history and participating in a programme like the Korean Vision Camp.
“The only way we know about the war and of the sacrifices made is through listening to others. So I feel like it’s been a good learning opportunity to learn about what happened,” she said.
The Korean Vision Camp 2020 was a free programme of activity supported by the South Korean Ministry of Patriots and New Zealand’s Veterans’ Affairs. The aim was to build on the friendships that were established between those who served in the Korean War.
It was also an opportunity to thank Korean War veterans for their service and to acknowledge their sacrifices through a programme of commemorative activity, cultural experiences, and appreciation activities.