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[Dongmyeong Unit marks 16th anniversary of deployment] A bright light that does not sleep

Maintaining stability in Lebanon and peace in the Middle East

A motion to dispatch peacekeepers was passed by the National Assembly in 2006, and the first rotation left the next year

The name “Dongmyeong” was coined in a contest among soldiers

It means “light from the east”


The unit conducted 365-day surveillance and reconnaissance operations and combined exercises

Contributed to the community by blocking and controlling militant groups and terrorists

Gained confidence from residents with medical services and a Korean language class

 [Dongmyeong Unit marks 16th anniversary of deploym

The Dongmyeong Unit, which is engaged in UN peacekeeping operation in Lebanon, marks the 16th anniversary of its dispatch on July 19. The unit is praised as a “role model” of peacekeeping operations that is dedicated to keeping the peace in Lebanon.


The ROK Joint Support Group for the Lebanon (Dongmyeong Unit), which is engaged in UN peacekeeping operation in Lebanon, marks the 16th anniversary of its dispatch on July 19. The unit was inaugurated in June 2007, and the first rotation was deployed in Lebanon in July 2007. Let us review the splendid history and achievements of the Dongmyeong Unit, which has performed the longest deployment among Korea’s PKO units.

Reported by Seo Hyeong-woo, Photo from Defense Daily DB and units



A ‘bright light’ that protects the future and peace of Lebanon


The history of the Dongmyeong Unit dates back to 2006. Initially, the United Nations deployed the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in 1978 to mediate conflicts between Israel and Lebanon. However, in 2006, a serious incident between the two countries led to 1,000 civilian casualties. In response, the UN expanded the size of its peacekeeping forces in Lebanon from 3,000 to 15,000 and adopted UN Security Council Resolution 1701 in August 2006. This resolution requested member nations, including South Korea, to dispatch forces.


The Korean government decided to accept the UN's request in a cabinet meeting, aiming to maintain peace and stability in Lebanon and the Middle East as a leading state in the international community. In December 2006, the National Assembly held a plenary session and passed a bill to dispatch the ROK UN peacekeeping force to Lebanon. On June 21, 2007, a ceremony for the inauguration of the Dongmyeong Unit was held, based on instructions from the Ministry of National Defense and a general order from the ROK Army Headquarters. The Dongmyeong Unit became the second UN peacekeeping combat unit sent by Korea, following the Sangnoksu Unit in East Timor.


The unit was named “Dongmyeong” in a contest with soldiers. The name reflects the desire for a bright future and peace in Lebanon as well as the unit’s commitment to being a bright light from the east.


The first rotation of the Dongmyeong Unit consisted of 360 people, including 78 officers and warrant officers, 136 non-commissioned officers, two civilian military employees and 144 soldiers. Considering the characteristics of the mission, one battalion under the ROK Special Warfare Command was selected to lead the operation. Officers and soldiers learned about local circumstances, language, customs and procedures for responding to contingencies for four weeks after the inauguration ceremony. An advance party was sent to Lebanon on July 4 and the main rotation unit departed after a farewell ceremony on July 18 and arrived in the Tyre, southern Lebanon, on July 19.



Conducting 120,000 complete operations as a role model for UN peacekeeping forces


The 28th rotation is currently performing the mission since the first rotation was deployed in 2007. Twenty commanders and 8,700 soldiers have been dedicated to defending peace in Lebanon and created a great history. The Dongmyeong Unit contributed to peace in Lebanon with 24-hour surveillance and reconnaissance operations and intensive combined exercises.


Southern Lebanon, where the Dongmyeong Unit is stationed, is about 20 km from the border with Israel. That is where military conflicts with Israel occurred in the early 2000s. Tension has eased now, but still there are still about 19,000 Palestinian and Syrian refugees and terrorist threats. The Dongmyeong Unit’s mission of preventing illegal weapons and armed forces from going into southern Lebanon and controlling terrorist activities has contributed to regional stability.


For the complete fulfillment of its duties, the Dongmyeong Unit installed permanent guard posts at the entrances to major expressways in its operation area. This allows them to identify suspected vehicles and swiftly address arising situations. They conduct maneuver reconnaissance to observe changes in geographical features within operational areas, and utilize foot patrols to monitor activities around the station. With 20 independent operations daily and 40 combined operations monthly, the unit not only demonstrates the combat strength of the UN peacekeeping forces but also effectively eliminates potential threats.


As a result, the Dongmyeong Unit set a record of 100,000 complete operations in February 2020. The unit has performed 124,000 operations including 107,000 independent operations and 17,000 combined operations without defects. About 650 operations were conducted in a month. UNIFIL recognizes the Dongmyeong Unit as a role model for UN peacekeeping forces, which enhances the reputation of South Korea and its military.



Strengthening the Lebanese military by transferring the South Korea’s superior military operation capabilities


The Dongmyeong Unit is engaged in combined exercises with foreign military contingents dispatched to Lebanon. Familiarization of Deployment (FAMDEP) and Combined Exercise (COMBINE-X) are leading examples of strengthening the combined cooperation system.


In FAMDEP, the mission and capability of the Force Commander’s Reserve (FCR) of the two countries are introduced and joint maneuver patrols are conducted. In COMBINE-X, the ability to respond to unfriendly acts by local residents is cultivated.


Last month, the 28th rotation of the Dongmyeong Unit conducted two multinational training exercises under the supervision of the UNIFIL’s Sector West Command. The participating contingents were from Italy, Ghana, Ireland, Poland, and Malaysia. These exercises helped enhance the unit’s capabilities, increase interoperability, and build friendships with contingents from other countries. Furthermore, even on July 19, which marked the 16th anniversary of its deployment, the 28th rotation initiated a three-day FAMDEP with the French battalion, serving as the FCR of the UNIFIL.


The Dongmyeong Unit also participates in Military Support for UNIFIL Security Plan (MSUSP) exercises to evacuate UN staff in emergencies. The 28th rotation conducted a tabletop exercise (TTX) last month and plans to stage Live-X in September. The Dongmyeong Unit supports Coordinated Training Activities with the Lebanon Armed Force (COTAWL) once a month to transfer the South Korean military’s excellent operational capabilities and experiences to Lebanon.


The Dongmyeong Unit has displayed outstanding proficiency in combined crew-served weapon firing contests. Since first participating in 2008, the unit has won the annual shooting contest for two consecutive years. Furthermore, in this year’s contest, the unit’s members captured first, second and third places in individual competitions, and the unit as a whole secured second place in group competitions.



Civilian-military cooperation bears abundant fruits in making residents familiar and friendly to Korea


The meticulous and sincere efforts of the Dongmyeong Unit in civilian-military operations form the core of activities aimed at "making Korea friendly," designed to leave a positive impression of Korea on people.


Trainees of a Taekwondo class that opened in November 2007 reached 1,000 in May 2019, and 2,000 in September 2019. Now they exceed 2,800. Among them, 800 trainees acquired black belts including 20 with third or higher-degree black belts.


Medical support began in July 2007, immediately following the arrival of the first rotation. Professional medical personnel, including military surgeons and nursing officers, visited five villages in Tyre to provided medical care to residents. Dental treatment, which has been offered since 2016, is particularity popular among residents. The total number of treatments, encompassing both human and veterinary care, reached 100,000 in October 2017 and 150,000 in February 2020. As for now, the count stands at 156,000 treatments (119,000 for people, 37,000 for animals).


The Korean language class has been extremely effective in promoting Korean culture. Since 2007, it has served over 1,200 students. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the class continued virtually due to high demand from residents wishing to learn Korean. The students formed their own group, “Dongmyeong Supporters,” to facilitate voluntary exchanges and promotions. They have also taught Arabic and French to unit members, evolving the class into a language exchange program.


Moreover, since initiating the construction of water supply facilities and guard posts for the Lebanese Army in 2007, the Dongmyeong Unit has carried out 500 civilian-military operations. These include 320 projects and 180 instances of material supplies. The unit has improved the educational environment by constructing and repairing schools. They have also supported communities by installing sewage facilities, paving roads, and setting up water supply and purification facilities, as well as street lamps. These activities have encouraged residents to be more accepting of the unit and to join them in their commitment to maintaining peace.


The 28th rotation of the unit is committed to enhancing the image of Korea by acting as a friendly neighbor and a defender of communities in Lebanon.


Colonel Park Yong-gyu, the commander of the 28th rotation of the Dongmyeong Unit, said, “The Dongmyeong Unit will continue to act in tandem with the national standing and military power of South Korea, and we will strengthen mission capabilities and earn the support and trust of communities and residents in Lebanon with perfect operations and intensive combined exercises.”

By Hyun-woo, Seo <>

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