South Korean President Moon Jae-in thanked former South Korean prisoners of war (POWs) for their patriotism during an Armed Forces Day meeting earlier this week, the Ministry of National Defense said Friday.
The ministry invited them to the 69th Armed Forces Day ceremony held at a local naval base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, on Thursday.
A total of 33 former POWs reside in South Korea, having returned from North Korea since 1994 after a decadeslong stay in North Korea, according to a government tally.
They were captured during the 1950-53 Korean War, while serving in the South's military to fight against the invading North.
"Eight war veterans who returned (to the South) and four caregivers attended the ceremony," the ministry said.
The president expressed his gratitude to them for their "devotion and sacrifice" for the country, it added.
The ministry added it will continue every effort to support those former POWs and their families.
An official report puts the number of South Korean POWs and others who went missing in action during the conflict at 82,318.
Among them 8,343 were repatriated to the South shortly after the 1953 Armistice Agreement.
And 80 others fled the communist North and settled in the South on state subsidies, with the first one Cho Chang-ho arriving here in 1994. Only 33 of them are alive. (Yonhap News)