The U.S. government paid the soldiers $236 million in appreciation of their "efforts," which also included neutralizing part of the Viet Cong presence in southern Vietnam. More than 40 years after the war's end in 1975, a very different picture reflecting the bilateral relation can be seen across Korea. Instead of the Korean infantry divisions and Marine Corps dispatched to Vietnam, the Southeast Asian country's men and women, with non-professional working visas in hand, have moved to Seoul to escape poverty.
Ven. Jino, as one with remorse for his own country that didn't hold back from slaughtering innocent people for the good of its biggest ally, feels touched whenever he sees Vietnamese migrant workers in hardship. "If I didn't commit to running and only had words coming out of my mouth to promote my charity mission, that wouldn't have impressed donors," said Ven. Jino, whose soul-searching cause prompts images of Hollywood masterpiece "Forest Gump."
Between 1965 and 1973, 312,853 South Korean soldiers fought in the Vietnam War. According to domestic sources, Korean infantry and marines killed an estimated 41,400 North Vietnamese Army soldiers and some 5,000 civilians. Approximately 5,000 South Korean soldiers were killed in the conflict, with many others returning home injured and with ailments caused by exposure to defoliant chemicals such as Agent Orange.
To manifest his efforts, Ven. Jino has been working in cooperation with Making Dreams Come True, a private organization based in the city of Gumi, in North Gyeongsang Province, which provides support for migrant workers in South Korea. But in order to achieve his objectives, Ven Jino has had to go the extra mile—literally, by running charity marathons as a demonstration of his sincerity.
Collecting pledges of 100 Korean won (US$0.09) for each kilometer run, Ven. Jino’s accomplishments include covering 300 kilometers in Ecuador and 300 kilometers from Kathmandu to Lumbini in Nepal in 2016, 330 kilometers from Angkor Wat to Phnom Penh in Cambodia in 2017, and 330 kilometers from Kandy to Matara in Sri Lanka in 2018.
His longest record to date took place in Vietnam from 2015–16, where he covered some 2,200 kilometers in two runs from Cao Bang Province to Da Nang, and from Ca Mau to Da Nang.
(source: Korean Times and Buddhist Door)