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Republic of Korea ambassador Yongkyu Park, of Wellington, said eight veterans from Otago enjoyed a meal at Tokyo Garden Japanese Restaurant on Saturday with about 20 family members and people from the Korean community.
''This is an expression of our gratitude and thanks to the veterans for their sacrifice through the Korean War.''
Their sacrifice had allowed for the development of South Korea over the past 61 years, he said.
The annual luncheon began in Dunedin in 1995 and the venues had been downsized as the number of surviving veterans decreased.
The eight veterans at the lunch on Saturday were aged between 78 and 91, Mr Park said.
Ken Mowat (91), of Dunedin, said he was at the war from the ''kick off'' and recalled arriving in Busan - South Korea's second largest city - and hearing an American band playing the song If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake.
Another lasting memory was the city being ''absolutely chock-a-block'' with refugees.
The refugees had arrived in the city by train.
''They held on the train wherever they could, hanging on inside and outside, some holding teddy bears. It was bloody awful.''