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[The World in Korea] Ethiopian Friendship Embedded in the Tranquil City of Chuncheon

KF Features > [The World in Korea] Ethiopian Friendship Embedded in the Tranquil City of Chuncheon
[The World in Korea]Ethiopian Friendship Embedded in the Tranquil City of Chuncheon

Chuncheon’s unique atmosphere is created by the surrounding mountains and beautiful lakes. It is without question one of the most popular destinations for Korean and foreign tourists to Gangwon Province. Visitors often come to the city by train or car for a romantic trip, tasty dishes, or famous local festivals. But at one point or another, they usually find themselves at historically significant sites such as the Ethiopian Path, a foot and bicycle path that spans from the mouth of the Gongji Stream, at the end of the Gyeongchun route, to the Chuncheon Battle Memorial Peace Park.


“Fight until you win, or die.”

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Ethiopia received the United Nations’ request to dispatch troops to Korea. Upon the order of their emperor, young Ethiopian men came to the peninsula and fought bravely, like the lions that symbolize their country. In numerous battles in the hilly areas of Korea’s central front, they remained undefeated, amassing win after win. This area, which encompassed Chuncheon, was the site of fierce battles that raged until just before the war cooled through the ceasefire. In 1968, the city set up a monument commemorating the participation and sacrifice of the Ethiopian forces. Memories which seemed to have dimmed over time were once again revived in the 2000s, when Chuncheon established a sister city relationship with the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in 2004, and again in 2007 when the city constructed the Memorial Hall for Ethiopian Veterans in the Korean War.


The hall stands out for its appearance, which resembles a traditional Ethiopian house. On display on the first floor are items related to war and the military, including documents on 253 battles fought by 6,037 Ethiopian soldiers, names of the deceased, and the small notebooks used by the men in uniform, all of which vividly testify to the conditions of the war. The second floor has two rooms devoted to Ethiopian culture: the Pungmul Exhibition Hall and the Exchange Exhibition Hall, featuring scenes and customs of Ethiopia. The country is widely known as the birthplace of coffee, and the Pungmul Hall is accordingly filled with coffee-related exhibits. The traditional coffee-making tools are intriguing, although the size of the exhibit might not satisfy coffee lovers. Perhaps that is why tourists who leave the memorial usually go straight to Ethiopia Bet, a nearby café which is said to be the first shop in Korea where brewed coffee was served.


Ethiopia Bet, meaning “Ethiopian house,” was named so by Emperor Haile Selassie I, who had ordered the dispatch of Ethiopian troops to Korea at the time of the Korean War. Visitors can see lion patterns symbolizing the African country throughout the café. The emperor is said to have been quite pleased with the establishment of Ethiopia Bet in Korea and endorsed the use of the national symbol there. He also sent coffee beans from his own palace to the café as a gesture of Ethiopia’s friendship with Korea.


Sit by the café window overlooking the low hills and wide lake and savor the aroma and taste of fresh brewed coffee. Here you can relax, letting go of all worldly troubles. In this moment, you will feel the deep friendship and goodwill of the Ethiopians who crossed the globe to fight together to protect the freedom and peace Korea now enjoys.


Written by Kim Moonyoung
Illustrated by EEWHA