SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in pledged his unwavering will to overcome the new coronavirus on Friday while honoring patriotic servicemen who sacrificed their lives to defend the Yellow Sea during maritime battles against North Korea.
Attending a ceremony to mark the fifth Yellow Sea Defense Day, Moon said that South Korea needs patriotism, as demonstrated by fallen heroes, more than ever in its fight against the COVID-19 crisis.
"Patriotism is the most robust security. It is the country's basis that no can shake," Moon said in a televised speech at the Daejeon National Cemetery in the central city.
Moon reaffirmed his strong will to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Challenging the COVID-19 crisis, we affirm that patriotism is being displayed in the form of solidarity and cooperation," Moon said.
South Korea had reported 9,332 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 139 deaths, as of Friday morning, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
It was the first time that the president had attended the ceremony to mark Yellow Sea Defense Day since he took office in May 2017.
The government designated the fourth Friday in March as Yellow Sea Defense Day to remember those who were killed in waters off the west coast during three battles against North Korea's provocations in 2002 and 2010.
This year also marked the 10th anniversary of two of the three incidents -- North Korea's deadly sinking of South Korean warship Cheonan on March 26, 2010 and the communist nation's artillery shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, a front-line island in the Yellow Sea, on Nov. 23, 2010.
Waters near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas, have been the scene of bloody skirmishes.
Moon noted that the government will strengthen the country's security posture.
"The government will establish permanent peace (on the Korean Peninsula) with a strong defense posture," Moon said.