17 February 2020
Army Reservist Ben Dobbie had a valuable cultural experience and a priceless opportunity to meet Korean War veterans at the recent Korean Vision Camp 2020 in Wellington and Waikanae.
The Camp brought together young people from South Korea and New Zealand, some of whom were descendants of Korean War veterans.
A Statement of Intent was signed in Seoul last year between Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand and South Korea’s Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, during which Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand agreed that the Camp would be held in New Zealand this year.
Private Dobbie, 23, a University of Otago graduate who serves in 1 Brigade 2/4B Company in the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, found out about the Camp through his unit’s group chat.
“I’m glad I did put my name forward because it was such a great experience,” he said.
The Camp featured several Korean War commemorations and opportunities to meet Korean War veterans, which was a highlight for Private Dobbie.
“As an Army Reservist we stand on the shoulders of giants – those who came before us,” he said. “They are bona fide real-life heroes, who fought and died for causes they believed in.”
He found it invaluable participating in the Camp activities with the South Korean visitors because he was able to learn about how other people see the world.
“One thing that struck me was that even though we’re from two different cultures just how similar we can be,” he said.
Now he is planning a snowboarding trip to South Korea next year to catch up with friends he made at the Camp.
He strongly encourages other young people to apply to attend such camps if they happen in the future.
“It definitely takes you out of your comfort zones – meeting a bunch of strangers and doing activities with them – but it was a really good experience,” he said.
The Korean Vision Camp 2020 was a free programme of activity supported by the South Korean Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs 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.