SEOUL — On this day in Korean history, several notable events across decades highlight the nation's political, social, and athletic achievements, reflecting its dynamic history and contributions to global affairs.
According to Yonhap News Agency, February 13 has been marked by significant events including the arrest of North Korean spy Lee Su-geun by the Korean Central Intelligence Agency in 1969. Lee, who infiltrated South Korea posing as a defector in 1967, was executed later that year, on July 3.
In the realm of sports, South Korean marathon runner Lee Bong-ju set a new national record at the Tokyo Marathon on this day in 2000, finishing in 2 hours, 7 minutes, and 20 seconds. This achievement underscored South Korea's presence in international athletics.
The year 2001 saw South Korea granting refugee status for the first time to an Ethiopian asylum seeker, a landmark decision by the Ministry of Justice that emphasized the country's evolving stance on humanitarian issues.
Further highlighting South Korea's role on the international stage, the National Assembly approved a government proposal in 2004 to send an additional 3,000 troops to assist in rebuilding Iraq. This deployment made South Korea the largest foreign contingent in Iraq after the United States and Britain.
Significant diplomatic efforts included an agreement in 2007 by North Korea to shut down its nuclear facilities and allow nuclear inspectors, following negotiations with South Korea, the United States, China, Russia, and Japan. Additionally, in 2015, the foreign ministers of South Korea and Palestine agreed to initiate consultations on establishing a Palestinian representative office in Seoul.
Political transformations were also noted, with the ruling Saenuri Party changing its name to the Liberty Korea Party in 2017, aiming to distance itself from the corruption scandal involving impeached President Park Geun-hye.
Lastly, in 2018, Choi Soon-sil, a close associate of former President Park, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for her involvement in a corruption scandal that ultimately led to Park's removal from office in March 2017.