Korean War Legacy Project

Sotirios Patrakis


Sotirios Patrakis details his pathway to involvement with Korean War veterans. He comments on his visit to South Korea for a convention commemorating the start of the Korean War and warmly describes his experience with the South Korean people while there. He states that this encounter prompted him to become involved with the veterans upon his return to Greece. He shares his thoughts on preserving the memory of Korean War veterans’ service and on educating youth about the war. He is proud of all efforts and offers a congratulatory message to the Korean War veterans from Greece for their willingness to serve as well as to the South Korean people for their economic progress since the war.

Video Clips

Korean War Veterans Involvement

Sotirios Patrakis details his pathway to involvement with Korean War Veterans. He shares that as a member of the Army reserve officers, he took part in a convention in Korea commemorating the start of the Korean War. He recalls how kind the Korean people were and felt it a pity that there was no opportunity for veterans from Greece to gather together and relive that period of their lives. He comments on Korea's progress since the war and is proud of its economic efforts.

Tags: Civilians,Impressions of Korea,Modern Korea,Pride,Prior knowledge of Korea,South Koreans

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Preservation and Educating Youth

Sotirios Patrakis shares his thoughts on preserving the memory of Korean War veterans' service and on educating youth about the Korean War. He expresses that this endeavor began rather late as many veterans have since passed or mix their facts due to age. He adds that it is good to do it even now though so that everyone knows and remembers this history.

Tags: Home front,Impressions of Korea,Message to Students,Modern Korea,Pride,South Koreans

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Message to Veterans and South Koreans

Sotirios Patrakis offers a congratulatory message to Korean War veterans from Greece as well as to the South Korean people. He shares that the veterans went on their own accord as the people of Greece believe in democracy and freedom. He commends South Korea's economic strength developed through the years since the war and adds that it is a very good example for many countries like his own.

Tags: Home front,Impressions of Korea,Modern Korea,Pride,South Koreans

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Video Transcript


[Beginning of recorded material]

I:          Would you introduce yourself, your  name and what is your title and what you are doing here?

S:         Well, my  name is Sotirios Patrakis.  I’m the Vice President of the Reserve Officers Club and [INAUDIBLE] in Greece.  I am a pensioner from the National Bank of Greece.  I was director in the main branch of the National Bank of Greece in [INAUDIBLE]

I:          So you were soldier, too.  You were in the military service.

S:         Yes.


I:          Yeah.

S:         Uh, not as a profession but, uh, not profession really but, uh, for the period I had to be in the Army.

I:          National conscript.

S:         Yes.
I:          And how did you become involved in the Korean War veterans?

S:         Well, I had a great [INAUDIBLE] in 2005 to take part in convention in the Korea for the 55 years when the war started in Korea.

I:          Um.

S:         When I went there, I had no idea about Korea and about the war.


But, uh, as a member of the Reserve Officers, I took part there.

I:          Um hm.

S:         So when I went there, I had the chance to leave all this climate, all the atmosphere of, uh, the Korean War, of the people who had to fight there to see how kind the Korean people were and how proud.  I felt as a Greek, when they heard everywhere that we are Greek,


and they took care for us as if we were something special.  I was very touched.  And that is why when I came back one week later, I thought that, uh, it’s a pity the Korean War veterans from Crete not to be together to organize something and to remember again what they lived during that period.

I:          So you didn’t know about the Korean War.  But now you are the Vice President of Korean War Veterans Association here in Crete.


S:         Not officially.

I:          But

S:         Not officially.

I:          Yeah, still, but you’re working for them.  What do you know about Korea now?

S:         I had the chance to go on some more in Korea in 2007 for a second time.  Uh, I was very impressed to see the Korea now, the last years, and to see the progress and technology, the people, uh, the civilization because I read


some books, because I learned more about Korea.  And really, I feel it’s, as if it my second country.

I:          Hm.  You know that Korea is now 11th largest economy in the world and very strong democracy?

S:         I know it.  I know it.  And I’ve feel very proud for this.  And if I compare Korea from the period of the War, and Korea came out of the War in 1953, nearly until 1955


I:          Um hm.

S:         and Greece finished the War in 1949, and they have to say that Korea is maybe 50 or 100 years from, from, compared with Greece, the economy I mean.  So I feel very proud for Korean people.

I:          Hm.  What do you think we have to do to preserve their  memory and educate our young generation about the honorable service of Greek Korean War veterans?  What do you think we have to do?


Do you think that we have enough in the history book about the Korean War in Greece?

S:         There is nothing in the history books about

I:          Why not?

S:         about Korea.

I:          Why not?

S:         The young people, especially in Greece, they know, they don’t know anything about the Korean War, nothing.  They even don’t know the history about the Battle in Crete here with the Germans.  They don’t know the real history of Greece.  So I think the Korean War is something


very far for the Greek books I think.  And you have to fight for this [INAUDIBLE] the Embassy and the Greek Ministerium, uh.  So that’s some thing they do with the books and, uh, the history must be in the books for the young children so they know the history of their parents or their grandfathers.

I:          Um.  My foundation is making two big books, one about the Korean War, one about the modern Korean economy and democracy,


and we are making those books based on this interview. What do you think about that?

S:         My opinion here really is that you do it a bit late. So to do it minimum 10 years earlier.  Minimum.

I:          Um hm.

S:         Then most of the veterans have died, the most.  The veterans who live now, they don’t remember details.  They forget easily.  They mix things.

I:          Um hm.

S:         And facts.  So you ought to do it 30 years earlier.

I:          Um hm.


S:         But anyway, it’s good to do it even now

I:          Um hm.

S:         and to do whatever you can so that everybody knows and remembers about that history.

I:          How many history teachers in Crete altogether?  Do you know?

S:         I don’t know.  But, uh, in each school they have some

I:          Um hm

S:         uh, teachers.  Maybe they are some cousins.  I don’t know.   But the question is not how  many they are but what they teach.


I:          So let’s do those things, uh.  I, I am planning working with Mr. [INAUDIBLE], uh, to host a teachers conference next year in Greece, and if we do, I’ll let you know so that you can mobilize the teachers and inviting them to attend the conference.  Could you do that?

S:         Of course.  That’s very easy.  It’s very easy.  If you organize it, I can help as much as I can.   No problem.

I:          Um hm.

S:         And it is good to do it in the schools.


I:          And I’m very thankful for your service doing for the veterans, and 2020 will be the 70th anniversary of the Korean War.  What would you say to the veterans, and what would you say to the Korean people?

S:         The veterans, uh, I say congratulations for what they did because I know they went to fight with their own will.  They were not obliged to do it.  And this is very important I think.  You know, in Greece we believe in democracy.


I:          Um hm.

S:         We believe in freedom.  And, uh, when we hear that somewhere there is a war which is not right to be, the people, the Greek people, with their own will want to take part and to fight for freedom and for democracy.  This is very well known for Greece, and I can understand those veterans through that period when they did not know where Korea is, how far it is,


and where it is on the map.  They went  to fight with their own will.  So I have to congratulate  them once more.  About the people in Korea, I have to say congratulations because in less than 70 years, they are a very strong economy, a very strong country, and this is a very good example for many countries like my country, and we have to somehow to do the same as what they did


and to try as they did at least to do the best for making our lives better.

I:          You are wonderful.

S:         Thank you.

I:          I’m so lucky and glad to meet you, and I want to thank Dimitrius to introduce you to us.

S:         Thank you very much.

I:          And I think what all you said is amazing, amazing points, and I hope that I, we can continue to work together to keep their legacy.

S:         Whatever you like.  Thank you.

I:          Thank you, sir.

S:         Thank you very much.

I:          Bravo.

S:         Thank you.


[End of Recorded Material]