Chapter 14 My wonderful Korean Students (I wish that I could locate some of them.)

 

 

 

 

 

My wonderful Korean Students

 

 

 

Teaching my young students at the Chosun Ilbo (local newspaper) which Mr. Nam who was the editor and my top student arranged, was a great pleasure and experience, which I remember till this day.  Since I always liked to joke around and play pranks I would get the usual laughs, which relaxed the class. Sometime I would bring a picture of a monkey into class and that always broke them up as monkeys were traditionally used to frighten away enemies..  All of the Korean temples are adorned with a line of monkeys on each roof joints going from the top to the bottom. There was always a great deal of giggling when I went to the blackboard. The reason being was that in Korea at that time nobody wrote with their left hand. Sometime I would write with the white chalk in both hands, which really then brought the house down. During one class a young female student by the name of Bo Yul Kim was called to the blackboard to finish a sentence.  She did it well and I then walked over and patted her head.  She seemed stunned by this and looking around the classroom all I saw were horrified looks.  It seems the culture in Korea and much of Asia for that matter was that you not only limit your emotion but you never touch anyone of the opposite sex in public. To touch the hair of a female was strictly forbidden. To see men walking down the street holding hands was common and it was not considered sexual in any way. Boy, did I have a hard time getting out of that one, explaining that I came from a different culture with different attitudes and mores took a long time to accomplish.  My abject apologies were received slowly but steadily until all was back to normal again.  Christmas time (the cards that we sent home read “This Christmas we are telling everyone to go to hell”) they threw a magnificent party for me in a traditional Korean restaurant. The girls dressed in traditional Korean long dresses. Songs were sung and Col. Kim sung “Oh My Papa” in English, speeches given and the food was scrumptious. Kimchee dishes, Chop Chae noodles, Bulgogi and Kalbi (meat was expensive and hard to get) and Gotgoki (very spicy and even spicier than the winter Kimchee. A great time was had by all. Oh. I almost forgot. Before Christmas in early December I was chatting with the fellows in the JAG office when I got a Red Cross Radiogram informing me that my son Lee was born on December 2nd. I had prepared myself with a box of cigars and ran to 8th Army headquarters screaming “it’s a boy, it’s a boy, not realizing that I ran into General Decker’s office (4 Star general) during one of his meetings. I didn’t get shot and when I ran into my office General Griffin offered me a drink. When I got to the Red Cross unit they had some kind of either microwave or cable system to make overseas calls. No dial tones as yet. I called Sylvia but only one of us could speak at one time. You had to say “over” and click the button to speak. It was cumbersome but very exciting to speak to the new mother. This was one unforgettable day.

 

 

 

So, now I’m off to another R & R. This time I went by Ferry to the Southern coast of Japan. The crew all spoke Japanese and my Japanese language skill was serviceable, although my Korean was very limited.  Note that in class all spoke Japanese because for many years when the Japanese were the conquerors of Korea the Japanese language was mandatory.   They gave me a nice bunk to sleep in and the meals were “serviceable”. On this trip I explored Japan from North to South. I loved the train ride when it arrived in the morning and outside of the train women were selling O Soba noodles which steams in the morning air.  A group of friends took me to a city called Kokura where they made stainless steel silverware. Japan went through a number of tough years before their manufacturing became modernized and sophisticated. There, at a sports center they introduced me to a famous teacher of Kendo.  Kendo is a sparring sport with a long bamboo type of training sword. Watching his students I commented that it looked easy. Would you like to try he says. Of course I said as I putt on their special helmet and uniform. Before I could even move I was hit all over the shoulder and body, standing there like a clown, never even able to move. Oh well, It’s easier going back to the Shinto shrines and temples.  The only depressing part of this trip was going to Hiroshima. This was something tragic that they brought on themselves. Truman undoubtedly made the correct decision.  More lives would have been lost on both sides if we had to invade Japan. The populace was indoctrinated to fight until the end. It’s now time to go back to Korea and get back to work. I had become friendly with a Catholic Priest and used to invite him to the OEC Club for drinks. He really appreciated that and reciprocated by inviting me for a weekend at this compound outside of the city which may have been Uijongbu, North of Seoul. Also I forget if it was a Jesuit or Dominican compound. Father John was extremely kind and his only concern was putting me in a room with a large cross hanging over the bed. It didn’t bother me but I appreciated his thoughtfulness.  Often I wondered whatever happened to him.

 

 

 

On this trip I explored Japan from North to South. I loved the train ride when it arrived in the morning and outside of the train women were selling O Soba noodles which steams in the morning air.  A group of friends took me to a city called Kokura where they made stainless steel silverware. There at a sports center they introduced me to a famous teacher of Kendo.  Kendo is a sparring sport with a long bamboo type of training sword. Watching his students I commented that it looked easy. Would you like to try he says. Of course I say as I putt on the Helmet and uniform. Before I could even move I was hit all over the shoulder and body, standing there like a clown, never even able to move. Oh well, It’s easier going back to the Shinto shrines and temples.  The only depressing part of this trip was going to Hiroshima. This was something tragic that they brought on themselves. Truman undoubtedly made the correct decision.  More lives would have been lost on both sides if we had to invade Japan. The populace was indoctrinated to fight until the end. It’s now time to go back to Korea and get back to work. I had become friendly with a Catholic Priest and used to invite him to the OEC Club for drinks. He really appreciated that and reciprocated by inviting me for a weekend at this compound outside of the city which may have been Uijongbu, North of Seoul. Also I forget if it was a Jesuit or Dominican compound. Father John was extremely kind and his only concern was putting me in a room with a large cross hanging over the bed. It didn’t bother me but I appreciated his thoughtfulness.  Often I wondered whatever happened to him. Upon my return I met an acquaintance at Kimpo Air Force base.  He was a jet fighter pilot and I remembered that he was a little crazy and he always liked to joke around. Without any hesitation he invited me to have the thrill of flying in an F-86 fighter. I figured that he was joking as these are one-seater planes. He said “wait here and I will be back in 15 minutes”. Bob came back and stated that he had signed out a TF 86. That was a training version of a F-86 that had a rear seat. We climbed in and off we went into the wild blue yonder and it was wild as he did flip and rolls. At one point he asked me if I knew that we were flying upside down. I didn’t and was probably too scared to really look out of the canopy. It got worse, when he asked ME where we were. Bob thinks that we crossed the 38th parallel and he thinks that he spots some MIGS in the distance. Now I am really scared because a TF86 doesn’t to carry any weapons. We got back to Kimpo and I am ready to kill him, especially when he asks me if I wanted him to take me to California. No, I said as I just want to serve my time and get back to my family. I made sure and stayed clear of him after that.

 

 

 

For some reason Halloween was a big holiday for us.  Halloween was party time. You drank until you fell. The ambassador was long gone and last Captain Jim (Jimmy) and Mr. X (me) remember was downing whiskeys at the OEC Club. Waking up out our stupor we were in a very unfamiliar place. Worse our boots were gone and walking around in Khaki army socks was no pleasure. We had to get off the rocky road and into a town and then find the base. We didn’t have a compass with us and I have a notorious bad sense of direction.  After lots of aimless walking when suddenly we see some 2 or 3 story buildings in the distance.  Hopefully that is Seoul.  As we approached in what seemed like an eternity we saw a shocking site.  Flags are draped from the window. Not just flags, but RED flags.  My God we must have wondered into North Korea. As we were now completely sober we knew a number of things.

 

 

 

1. We couldn’t be seen.

 

2. We had to head South.

 

3. If we were discovered by the MP’s without boots we would be court- marshaled.

 

 

 

The sun was setting so we figured out south, hiding and frozen with fear every time we heard a sound. Feet stinging, hungry, feeling cruddy we walked hid, walked hid. Looks like the MSR ahead (Main supply route) which would lead to EASCOM (Eighth Army Support Command) and our base. Our luck; here’s a cab. Luckily our documents weren’t stolen and I had MPC’s (military payment certificates, which is Army currency) hidden in my sock.  SAC Army base we yelled in unison. Since the driver was not responding Jim went into his Turkish soldier act. The Koreans were deathly afraid of the Turkish soldiers who all carried long knives.  Jim is screaming gibberish and pounding the top of the taxi cab’s front seat.  Yongsan, Yongsan reservation he yelled. The driver sped to the post but we had him leave us about 50 yards on the side.  Were frightened again because if the MP’s see we have no boots we are in a heap of trouble.  When we got to the gate and are in for a bit of luck. As we approach and show our documents a Korean “Honey Bucket” truck (Human waste collection) is just passing. The MP’s were distracted by the noise and the smell of the human waste. (which was used to fertilize their crops). Koreans are not overly fond of dogs and one of my friends from the JAG corps, (Legal team), saved a dog from the Honey bucket brigade but unfortunately the smell never left the dog. Anyway we were saved, got back to the barracks and told our story.  Carl (who was a Harvard trained lawyer) and knew everything laughed (one of the few times I had ever seen him laugh). Usually Carl had no common sense but this time he knew what the flags were about.  No, we were not in North Korea. There is a small village nearby that is inhabited by a small Nationalist Chinese community. It had been Nationalist Chinese holiday! We didn’t know the difference between Communist Chinese or National Chinese flags. Shame on us.

 

 

 

Next; the 30 day Leave

 

 

 

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