• Two villages in DMZ
    By Nam Sang-so @sangsonam
    They were next door neighbors. The villagers were all friendly Koreans who wore similar clothes. They enjoyed farming festivals together and spoke with a tinge of northern accented dialect. The boys knew the pretty girls and the girls had heard of dutiful boys in the neighborhood village.
    Casting long shadows, after the day’s work, the farmers with A-frames on their back silently returned with their cows to their homes in Daeseong-dong and Kijong-dong where wood burning smoke lingered under the evening glow. They loved the serene farm fields and were happy, until one day in June 1950.
    Men and women were transplanting rice saplings in the muddy paddy when they saw heavily armed soldiers wearing brown fatigues running toward south on their levees.
    A few months later the villagers noticed other armed soldiers who wore greenish uniforms, with fish net covered helmets decorated with bushes as they rushed this time toward the north passing through the villages. They were all Koreans but each aimed their rifles at different directions and the two troops repeated their charging and retreating. The farmers realized they were fighting each other.
    When the growing rice saplings covered the wet field dark green in the summer of 1953, the villagers were told by tall American soldiers that their homes were in the middle of the demilitarized zone with an invisible armistice line running on their levee between the two villages.
    The United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC) asked people in Daeseong-dong to move into South Korea and Kijong people to relocate in the north of the demilitarized zone. The two villagers didn’t budge insisting that the villages are their graveyards. Inevitably, the UNCMAC hastily created a special law and allowed the two villagers to live in their own hometowns, one in the north and the other in the south of the demarcation line within the neutralized zone.
    Then the two friendly villages were turned into, against their will, front line propaganda towns and received new honorary names each; Freedom Village in the south, Peace Village in the north.
    South and North Korean governments put up in competition large propaganda billboards lined up face to face. The bragging war escalated into a flag raising contest. When the South’s had reached at 99 meters height with 18-meter-flag on a steel tower, the North rebuilt theirs to as high as 165 meters with a 30-meter- flag.
    It is so heavy that a dozen soldiers were needed to hoist it and gale to make it flutter. South Korea replaces the worn-out flag once every two-month spending 1,400,000 won (equivalent to U.S.$1,300) each. The North Korea too couldn’t afford to display a faded flag and replaced theirs but not often enough due to short of money.
    All together 201 people live in the Freedom Village. Those who wish to move out of the village can do so but newcomers are not allowed to move in, except a bride from the south who marries a village boy, but the village girl couldn’t bring her bridegroom in from the south, and she must leave the Freedom Village. The residents are exempt from South Korea’s military and tax duties.
    Curfews are imposed at 11 p.m. on either side. The Freedom villagers, despite somewhat uneasy UNCMAC restrictions, they don’t want to leave the village. As it happened, most of them, legally speaking, don’t own their rice paddies, which are, or used to be, owned by the people of Kijong-dong now the neutral village in the North Korean side.
    The Freedom villagers are rich farmers because they get mountains of gifts from their sister towns and cities outside the DMZ in the south and they enjoy a neutral status and the boys were happy that they don’t have to serve South Korea’s obligatory military service.
    Yet, they get an uneasy feeling every time they hear the word “Unification” because it sounds like the footsteps of proprietors coming from the north.
    The writer is a Japanese-English-Korean translator. His email address is sangsonam@gmail.com
    (Note: This article was once published by The Korea Times on July 11, 2013)

  • In memory of a beautiful Korean bride
    Miss Chang was a handsome student in our Uljin high school years in North Gyeongsang province. She had a pair of clear and black eyes with relatively thin lips for a Korean girl and wore school uniform always tight and her hemline revealed her knees when she walked fast. The school rule was never to show the girl’s knees. The breaths of the boys went high when she smiled at them.
    My breath couldn’t go high because she was a distant cousin, on my mother’s side, which is called in Korean 6 inches. The distance between the cousins are 4 inches and the relation with uncle and nephew or niece is therefore 3 inches, which makes the brothers/sisters 2 inches but Koreans don’t’ say it 2 inches. Miss Chang’s father and I are 7 inches.
    The girl thought I’m harmless as we are within our family members and she talked to me warmly like a sister and I liked it. One should never get attracted to a 6 inch in those days some 65 years ago. The same clan of Mr. Kim and Miss Kim were not allowed to marry then.
    Yet, Japanese often fall in love among cousins, 4 inches, and they were allowed to marry. When the Pacific War ended in 1945, so many Japanese wives at home found themselves widowed as their husbands in the military service didn’t come home. Not too often but occasionally, the parents-in-law of the war dead husband suggested the widowed daughter-in-law to remarry her brother-in-law, a younger brother of the deceased. So that the widow doesn’t have to return to her native home as a failed bride. The younger brother was pleased as he had been secretly attracted to his sister-in-law, and she was delighted to have a young bridegroom. Koreans didn’t take that custom.
    When in ear4ly 1970s the Bank of America had a Seoul branch office in a slim building in Myong-dong, across the street of the then main office of the Korea Exchange Bank I was asked by the bank to check the problems of fire escape route and its plumbing system in the rented building. While discussing with the General Manager in a bathroom I looked down into a toilet bowl when my fountain pen, a Mont Blanc, fell into the water of the bowl from my chest pocket. It was a $300 pen and I quickly put my hand into the toilet water (it was clean) and picked it up, and washed it in a flowing water from a faucet. Everyone laughed and enjoyed scene.
    When I stepped out of the bank building, making sure that my fountain pen was dry in my pocket now, a woman called me behind, “Mr. Nam.” A beautiful young lady about my age was broadly smiling at me. She wore a dark blue business suits and white shirt. I thought I knew her but couldn’t recall where and when. “You don’t remember me, I’m your 6 inches from Uljin, silly brother!” She said. We went into a nearby coffee house and she told me she is being employed at the bank. And she said she is married to an American, a DAC now works at the U.S. Army Garrison at Yongsan. “What is a DAC?” I asked. “It’s a Department of Army Civilian.” “Congratulations, I hope you are happy,” I said. “I’m very happy with one boy and one girl,” she said making a big smile. “I heard you picked a fountain pen from toilet bowl,” she said. “I had to because it would clog the toilet and it was my favorite pen. Don’t worry, it’s dry now,” I told her. She made another laugh. She was beautiful, but I didn’t say so, she calls me a brother.
    Koreans had been proudly valued their homogeneity and glorious of maintaining the same blood for thousands of years. Not anymore, the country is rapidly becoming a multi-cultural nation. The total international marriage tallied the period between 1990 ~ 2013 had reached to 500,000 cases including the cross-border marriages among Korean men and women and foreign men and women. (Re: “International marriage of Koreans” by Kim Du Seop, issued in April 2015; ISBN 978-89-303-1677-4). Prof. Andrei Lankov reported on the September 4, 2017 issue of The Korea Times that an accumulative number of U.S. servicemen married Korean women approached 90,000 citing some sources.
    Again, according to the Kim’s report above, the citizens of the United States (including the military servicemen) who married Korean women are; 1,084 cases in the year 2000 and keeping average 1,400 per year, it revealed that 1,755 Koran women married Americans in the year 2015 alone. The divorce rates by American men and Korean women showed an average 1,300 cases per year and the divorce among them was recorded at 1,196 cases in the year 2013. That is quite high rate of divorce among the American husbands and Korean wives.
    The latest news I’ve got about Mrs. Chang, my 6 inches who must be 84 years old now, was that she along with her old husband are busy chasing after several grandchildren in Hawaii. Someday she would feel a longing for her home in Uljin, Korea and may be able to meet her accidentally just like we’d had at the Bank of America office in Myong-dong, Seoul, in early 1970s.
    By Nam Sang-so, a retired architect. His email address is sangsonam@gmail.com

  • Note from @janowell
    Mr. Nam: I recall the incident very well. I was out of the country on the day of the murders but arrived in time to witness the preparations from the Headquarters, UNC/USFK/EUSA, Public Affairs Office, Community Relations Division where I worked as a Community Relations Specialist. Those were tense days, hours and minutes for the command group and those brave US and ROK military personnel who were directly involved in the ‘Paul Bunyon’ Task Force. Kim, Il Sung actually made a verbal apology to our side, but he didn’t provide it in a written document. General Richard G. Stilwell was extended on his regular tour of duty as CINCUNC for this action. When he retired from active duty he championed the construction of the Korea War Monument that now stands in the Mall in Washington, D.C. He visited our office to talk to Mr. George D. Kim, Chief, Community Relations Division, regarding Gen Stilwell’s effort to construct the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C. He told us that Samsung and Hyundai both gave $1,000,000 each toward the construction of that monument. Sadly, Gen Stilwell died prior to the groundbreaking and completion of the monument. His original designed included a statue of a Korean Service Corps (A-Frame Army civilian) in the formation. But, due to lack of funding the number of statues were reduced including the KSC member. Later, Chairman Chi, Kap Chong, Chairman, UNKWAA, was able to have the KSC participation added to the Wall where the names of the deceased are listed.

    Thanks for sharing this story and the attached photos and write up.

    Warm Regards,


    • A day to remember; August 18, 1976 by Mr. Nam, @sangsonam
      (This article is dedicated to the late United States Army Officers Arthur Bonifas and Mark Barrett who were killed by North Korean soldiers in the Axe Murder Incident)
      In the Joint Security Area, near the Bridge of No Return, a 30 meters tall poplar tree blocked the line of sight between a United Nations Command (UNC) checkpoint (CP No. 3) and an observation post (OP No.5).
      Command Post No. 3, situated next to the Bridge of No Return, was the northernmost UNC checkpoint and only visible from OP No. 5 during the winter months. During the summer months, only the top CP No. 3 was visible from one other UNC checkpoint (CP No. 2). Running across the middle of the bridge was the Military Demarcation Line between North Korean and South Korean territories.
      The North Korean Army (KPA) had made numerous attempts to grab UNC personnel from CP No. 3 and drag them across the bridge into North Korean territory. The Joint Security Area’s close proximity to North Korean territory and North Korean checkpoints on all access routes, along with the repeated attempts to kidnap UNC personnel working there, led to CP No. 3 being referred to as the “loneliest outpost in the world.”
      On August 18, 1976, a group of five Korean Service Corps (KSC) personnel escorted by a UNC security team consisting of Captain Arthur Bonifas, his South Korean (ROK) Army counterpart, Captain Kim, the platoon leader of the current platoon in the area (First lieutenant Mark Barrett), and 11 enlisted personnel, both American and South Korean, went into the JSA to trim the tree, as previously scheduled with the KPA delegation.
      The two captains did not wear side arms, as members of the Joint Security Area were limited to only five armed officers and 30 armed enlisted personnel at a time. However, there were mattocks in the back of the 2.5 tons truck. The KSC workers had the axes they brought to prune the tree branches.
      After trimming began, about 15 North Korean soldiers appeared, commanded by Senior Lt. Pak Chul, whom the UNC soldiers had previously nicknamed “Lt. Bulldog” due to a history of confrontations. Pak and his subordinates appeared to observe the trimming without concern for approximately 15 minutes, until he abruptly told the UNC to cease the activity, stating that the tree could not be trimmed “because Kim Il Sung personally planted it and nourished it and it’s growing under his supervision.” Captain Bonifas ordered the detail to continue.
      After being ignored by Bonifas, Pak sent a runner across the Bridge of No Return. Within minutes, a North Korean guard truck crossed the bridge and approximately 20 more North Korean guards disembarked carrying crowbars and clubs. Park again demanded that the tree-trimming stop. When Bonifas again turned his back on him, Pak shouted, “Kill the bastards!” Using axes dropped by the tree-trimmers, the KPA forces attacked the two U.S. soldiers, Bonifas and Barrett, and wounded. Bonifas was knocked to the ground by Pak and then bludgeoned to death by at least five North Koreans. The wounded Barrett died in transport to a hospital in Seoul.
      Operation Paul Bunyan:
      In response to the “axe murder incident.” The UNC determined that instead of trimming the branches, they would cut down the tree with the aid of overwhelming force. The parameters of the operation were decided in the White House, where President Gerald Ford had held crisis talks. Ford and his advisers were concerned about making a show of strength to chasten North Korea, but without causing further escalation. The operation, named after mythical lumberjack Paul Bunyan, was conceived as a U.S. – South Korean show of force. It was planned over two days by General Richard G. Stilwell and his staff at the UNC headquarters in Seoul.
      Operation Paul Bunyan was carried out on August 21 at 07:00, three days after the killings. A convoy of 23 American and South Korean vehicles drove into the JSA without any warning to the North Koreans. In the vehicles were two eight-man teams of military engineers equipped with chain-saws to cut down the tree.
      A 64-man South Korean Special Forces company accompanied them, armed with clubs and trained in Taekwondo, supposedly without firearms. However, once they parked their trucks near the Bridge of No Return, they started throwing out the sandbags that lined the truck bottoms, and handing out M16 rifles and M79 grenade launchers that had been concealed below. Several of the special forces men also had M18 Claymore mines strapped to their chests with the firing mechanism in their hands, and were shouting at the North Koreans to cross the bridge.
      A U.S. infantry company in 20 utility helicopters and seven Cobra attack helicopters circled behind them. Besides these helicopters, B-52 Stratofortresses came from Guam escorted by U.S. F-4 Phantom IIs from Kunsan Air Base and South Korean F-5 and F-86 fighters were visible flying across the sky at high altitude. And the aircraft carrier USS Midway task force had also been moved to a station just offshore. Near the edges of the DMZ, many more heavily armed U.S. and South Korean infantry, artillery, so on, were waiting to back up the special operations team. The bases near the DMZ were prepared for demolition in case of a military response. During the operation, nuclear-capable strategic bombers circled over the JSA.
      The engineers in convoy being guarded by the task forces quickly cut the tree standing on the roof of the truck. North Korea quickly responded with about 150-200 troops, armed with machine guns and assault rifles. They arrived in buses but did not leave them at first, watching the events unfold. At Yokota Air Base in Japan, the base was on alert. The flight-line runway was “nose to tail” with dozen C-130s ready to provide back-up. The South Korean troops vandalized two North Korean guard posts. The tree stump, around 6 meters, was deliberately left standing.
      Five minutes into the operation, the UNC notified their North Korean counterparts at the JSA that a UN work party had entered the JSA “in order to peacefully finish the work left unfinished” on August 18. (Source: “Axe murder incident” of Wikipedia.)
      P.S. Sometime in August 1977, my cousin, Col. Sang-il Nam of ROK Army and the Chief Secretary to the Minister of Defense, Korea, visited me and gave me a wood chip, 50 mm diameter and 30 mm thick, and told me that it’s from that famous Poplar Tree in JSA. The letters “OPERATION PAUL BUNYAN” were inscribed in it.
      By Nam Sang-so, a Korean War veteran, Aug. 4, 2017. (sangsonam@gmail.com)
      The colored photo is from the display of the Korean War Museum in Yongsan, Seoul taken in August 2017
      • Note from @janowell
        Mr. Nam: I recall the incident very well. I was out of the country on the day of the murders but arrived in time to witness the preparations from the Headquarters, UNC/USFK/EUSA, Public Affairs Office, Community Relations Division where I worked as a Community Relations Specialist. Those were tense days, hours and minutes for the command group and those brave US and ROK military personnel who were directly involved in the ‘Paul Bunyon’ Task Force. Kim, Il Sung actually made a verbal apology to our side, but he didn’t provide it in a written document. General Richard G. Stilwell was extended on his regular tour of duty as CINCUNC for this action. When he retired from active duty he championed the construction of the Korea War Monument that now stands in the Mall in Washington, D.C. He visited our office to talk to Mr. George D. Kim, Chief, Community Relations Division, regarding Gen Stilwell’s effort to construct the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C. He told us that Samsung and Hyundai both gave $1,000,000 each toward the construction of that monument. Sadly, Gen Stilwell died prior to the groundbreaking and completion of the monument. His original designed included a statue of a Korean Service Corps (A-Frame Army civilian) in the formation. But, due to lack of funding the number of statues were reduced including the KSC member. Later, Chairman Chi, Kap Chong, Chairman, UNKWAA, was able to have the KSC participation added to the Wall where the names of the deceased are listed.

        Thanks for sharing this story and the attached photos and write up.

        Warm Regards,


    • Remembering the legacy of U.S. Army Yongsan Garrison (At Building 1510 in 1962) by Nam Sang-so,
      The main theme:
      The majority of Koreans have derived great pleasures from being acquainted with the USFK personnel not only at Yongsan Garrison but also other U.S. military camps in Korea. We say most sincerely grateful for the USFK personnel’s hard effort to teach us the latest design and construction standards, as well as upgrading the morals, English too, among us, all of which had greatly helped Korea to become the fastest growing country in the world.
      When we visit newly developed Yongsan Park starting next year, we would miss you, the wonderful soldiers and civilians, very much and we will remember mountains of engineering and cultural gifts you would have left behind in Yongsan Garrison.
    • Tora, Tora or Panda, Panda
      Listening to sweet Hawaiian music and observing the beautiful Oahu Island and gray battle ships floating at leisure on the calm waters of Pearl Harbor, Commander Fuchida in his cockpit was exuberated. These lazy Americans, as expected, were in their Sunday morning slumbers. He was leading the first wave of 183 dive bombers and fighters. Fuchida slid back the canopy and fired a green flare, the signal to attack. It was 7:40 a.m. Hawaiian Time on December 7, 1941.
      A total of 350 attack planes departed from six Japanese carriers and sunk four U.S. battle ships, damaged 3, and destroyed 311 airplanes on the tarmac and killed 2,334 American sailors and soldiers, plus 68 civilians. At 7:53 a.m., Fuchida sent the coded words “Tora, Tora, Tora,” or tiger in Japanese, which meant the surprise attack was successful, back to the flagship carrier. The Pacific War began.
      The Japanese Navy’s sneaky attack brought two revengeful atomic bombs back onto Japan. “Nobody is more disturbed over the use of atomic bombs than I am but I was greatly disturbed over the unwarranted attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor… When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him as a beast,” said President Truman. And, devastated Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945.
      “The United States is a democratic country, we shouldn’t make a preemptive attack but wait until Japan attacks us,” said President Roosevelt. And the U.S. Navy floated run-up battle ships in the waters off the Philippines as decoy to lure the Japanese attack, according to Japanese history records. But the U.S. was caught short at Pearl Harbor, some 6,000 km away from the first battle ground anticipated.
      Had Japan self-confidence in winning a war with the United States? They including the Emperor himself knew Japan cannot beat America. Admiral Yamamoto, the planner of the Hawaiian attack and the Commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet had been stationed twice in Washington as naval attaché. He said, “I’ve seen oil fields in Texas and the automobile factories in Detroit. We shouldn’t exchange fire with Americans.”
      But the self-righteous bureaucrats lead by the arrogant imperial army generals had the winning words; “We can’t submit ourselves to Americans without fighting. We must go to war regardless of the outcome!” Then the Emperor approved and Japan stampeded into a losing war which sacrificed 3.1 million Japanese deaths among them 2.3 million soldiers, 300,000 civilians in the external territories including Korea, 500,000 killed by air raids and the atomic bombings.
      There were more; Admiral Onish, one of the top naval operations, predicted that if Japan sacrificed 20 million more soldiers and civilians fighting against the America’s mainland landing operation, the U.S. would give up the war. Japan then had a 100 million population. I was one of them about to be drafted.
      Now 76 years after the Pearl Harbor attack, the waves of the East China Sea are getting higher. And while the skies over Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu) are getting crowded with the fighter planes of Japan and China, Japan has revised interpretation of the Constitution’ war-renouncing Article 9 to let Japan exercise the right of collective self-defense. Now the country can wage a war; perhaps with China first rather than other neighbors.
      China has 10 times more military personnel and fire power than Japan. Just like there was in early 1941, Japan’s public sentiment is divided again into two; “No
      war!” says one, and “We can’t submit ourselves without fighting!” insists the other. “Whoever would send coded message first, it would be “Panda, Panda” this time instead “Tora, Tora.”
      By @sangsonam Nam Sang-so, a Korean War veteran. His email address is sangsonam@gmail.com
    • Yongsan Garrison as the source of new culture, 1st
      1) Blondie
      There was a large white washed wall among buildings lined up facing a river and bridge before entering into Uljin township, North Gyeongsang province. It was one of the market days and people crossing the bridge noticed a large funny looking colored fresco – a woman’s character with yellow curly hair, large black eyes with long eyebrows, a necklace hung around her neck. It was an image of young American woman which was rather beautifully drawn. She was smiling at the local people. The town people knew that a detachment of U.S. Army had stayed in the town for a few days before they marched toward the north in the middle of Korean War.
      The charming woman’s image has been remained in the memories of the town people for a long time, wondering how American soldiers who were in the middle of gun fighting could afford time to draw a woman’s image on a wall. They were also surprised to find a large amount of their military rations left behind in the auditorium of Uljin middle school as a gift. Then the students were more surprised to notice that their only English teacher had disappeared with the American soldiers. He left a note to principal that the U.S. Army recruited him as a translator. The students, after the war, when started to read English magazines and papers realized that the fresco woman was named Blondie. And the town had two hairdressers and a photo shop named Blondie, some copying the fresco image onto their signboards.
      (To be continued to 2: Vagabond)
      By Nam Sang-so, a Korean War veteran, from the building 1510, Main Post. @sangsonam

    • Subject: You email of “Catholic Priest Barren”
      Now that you’ve again rekindled my 40 years old memories, you should blame yourself to read another long story.
      I’ve known two Catholic Priests who had visited our TAE offices often;
      The Right Reverent John Chang-Yik, currently the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Chuncheon. TAE, a long time ago, designed one of his churches in Seongbuk-dong, Seoul. The proposed site was located on a hill and we had problem getting building permit when the Metropolitan Army Defense Command said the cross on the tower of the proposed church comes within their firing range of anti-air artillery for the protection of the presidential mansion. I think we had to redesign to lower the church tower as I faintly remember.
      He is the 4th son of the former Prime Minister John Myeong Jang
      (1899 ~ 1960), and a handsome and fine gentleman. He had taught the Popes in Vatican Korean language and Pontiff spoke beautiful Korean when he visited Korea. The Reverend is about my age.
      P.S. That reminds me about the lady secretary of French Ambassador many years ago. I had been consulting architect to the embassy for six years and had met three different ambassadors from Paris. The lady who was a catholic sister when she stayed at a sanctuary in Hannam-dong (across the main street from Hannam-village) when then the Prime Minister John Jang had taken a refuge from 5.16 coup d’etat by Park Chung-hee.
      I vaguely remember that the refuge story didn’t end at Hanam-dong sanctuary but the old French lady with her sister friends had secretly taken the Prime Minister Jang Myeon to Yongsan Garrison for a safer refuge from the Hanam-dong sanctuary. Another story was in reverse, she had taken refugee seeking Korean Prime Minister from Yongsan Garrison (where the US Military refused to accept him as a refuge) to her Hannam-dong sanctuary. I haven’t confirm this part of story but if I encounter a hint of it, I’ll pursuit further, and let you know. (I still remember the old lady was proud of her action though she didn’t brag about it.) The main National Library or the Library of National Assembly should have the record.
      Again that reminds me that the detailed story of how the USFK had helped to extricate the former President Syngman Rhee to Hawaii in a night in May 1960 and brought his remains by a U.S. Air Force plane back to Korea, which too should make a good history in the YongsanLegacy.
      The second priest I knew had introduced himself Father Lee every time he dropped into TAE office. His face was always reddish as if alcohol still remains in his blood vessels. I didn’t get his American name. Probably not Barren.
      Nam, May 17 @sangsonam

      • In the above email I’ve briefly quoted old stories once went around that the then Prime Minister Chang Myon had attempted to escape from arrest by the revolutionary army led by Park Chung-hee (5.16 coup de’etat in 1961) and took a refuge at a Catholic sanctuary then located in Hannam-dong as assisted by sisters before, more likely after knocking the doors at the United States missionary facilities possibly including the gate of Yongsan Garrison in Seoul.

        Although the whispers came from a reliable source at St. Francisco Church (or Carmel nunnery) I wanted to confirm the words and visited the Seoul Metropolitan Library, National Central Library and Kyobo Book Center and did an extensive research in the former PM Chang Myon’s escape route in 1961 to see if he had also attempted to take a refuge in the Yongsan Garrison.

        Here is a simplified summary of my finding.
        The primary source in Korean: “John Myun Chang, 1899~1966. Pioneer in Nation-Building, Diplomacy, and Democracy; by Huh, Dong hyun, ISBN 89-419-9916-2 03340, first published in 1999.”

        Chang Myon (or John Myeong Jang, 1899 ~1966) was the fourth and the last Vice President of the First Republic and the Prime Minister of the Second Republic of Korea. He was removed from the position of Prime Minister after less than one year in power by the military revolution led by Park Chung-hee.

        PM Chang Myon’s words in Korean quoted by the author Huh Dong hyun (page 208 of the above referred book) roughly translate as follow:

        Quote: … I had to escape. It was only 10 minutes before the (revolutionary) soldiers arrived at Bando Hotel (now Lotte Hotel at Euljiro). I didn’t know where to go. First I went to American Embassy but the door was closed. Then went to the Embassy’s resident housing complex located across Hankook Ilbo (The Korea Times) building and knocked the door. The door didn’t open for whatever harsh order they (guards) might have received… As I thought I should take only a temporary refugee from the invading soldiers I didn’t have much of my personal belongings with me, so I decided to go to Hyewha-dong convent where I assumed no one could suspect that I would take a refugee there. People say that I was greatly frightened and hiding deeply, but it’s not true. Now is no time to disclose what I did at the convent, I cannot reveal my (escaping) story for now… What, however, I can say now is that if Gen. Chang Do-yong (then the Commander-in-chief of Korean Army) didn’t play dual actions (flip-flopping) and played strongly from the beginning and showed the intention of President Yun (Bo-sun)’s willingness to suppress the armed revolutionary soldiers to Magruder (Gen. Carter B. Magruder, 1900 ~ 1988, the Commander of 8th U.S. Army), the 5.16 coup de’eta might have been failed…. unquote.

        Post Script:
        Trans-Asia Engineers had later designed new two story apartments in the Embassy’s residence complex mentioned above which has been relocated to new site in the South Post, Yongsan Garrison. In order to protect the U.S. Missionary residents from possible street demonstrations, high stone walls were built around the complex with black and blind iron gates. The site now belongs to Hyundai group.

        By Architect Nam SangSo @sangsonam

    • Dear Professor Oh,
      by retired architect Sangso Nam Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 7:00 AM
      That casual meeting in the coffee shop in Itaewon in 2016…. thank you.
      @sangsonam @daniel-oh

    • My fond memories of the Gate #1
      By Nam Sang-so @sangsonam, retired architect/engineer from the Building 1510, Yongsan Garrison, one spring day in 2017.

      With Mr. Lee, one of my colleague architects, I got off at the Samkajji trolley station. The tram was a single car painted with faded dark green below the window sill and also faded yellowish paint on the top half including the window frames. It made a lot of noises coming from the rattling rolling stocks on the poorly laid rails and cracking sounds with sparking single trolley to get plus electricity from the air wire.
      In the morning rush hour, the city’s trams were always full of standing passengers. A brave man was suspended outside the tram door holding handrail with one hand, dangling his briefcase with the other. It resembled a scene in San Francisco.
      Those passengers who had get off at Samkajji station were mostly headed to the Gate #1 (now Gate #7) located along the Hangang Boulevard. All Korean employees at the Yongsan Garrison showed their IDs lined up at the guard post on the concrete sidewalk. They must get to their offices in the North Post before 8 o’clock.
      On that particular morning, the guard at the guard house was a tall and plump US Army soldier with a gun holster hanging on his waist. I handed him my wallet where the Provost Marshall issued my ID was inserted. For a while the soldier fiddled with it and slid back through small window. I grabbed it, walked passing the gate and headed to my office in the Building 1510 located on the northern hill of the North Post. As I felt suspicious, I opened the wallet and found my $10 bill for my lunch money was missing.
      I stopped, turned around, to get my money back from the soldier. He was busy with his duty inside the guard post. Then I realized it will be a heated and humiliating exchange of “You did, I didn’t.” I decided to forget about my $10.
      In the office, I told my friends about the incident and everyone laughed, except Mr. Lee who had get off at the Samkajji station with me. He raised his brown leather satchel, an expensive looking bag that not everyone could afford it, high above his head. It showed a 6” vertical trace of razor cut on the side. “Look, someone picked my bag in the tram and my wallet is gone!” “You guys should skip lunch today,” someone said, and laughter became louder. That pretty sack dressed Miss Ahn was covering her mouth with her hand. That was sometime in the late spring of 1959 and I had forgotten about it for a longtime.
      One spring day after 55 springs had passed since the incidents, the retired Korean Army MSgt. Kim Chun-soo @taebaek-kim, now known as a Yongsan historian, Mr. Mike Kim of Dragon Hill Lodge and Mr. Jacco Zwetsloot @jacco-zwetsloot and I walked around the Building 1510 and the Post Engineer’s office near the Gate #1. Ah, that gate post and that tall soldier, the surrounding fences and the chain-link gates, the sidewalk, and the stream behind, all of which are just about the same as I had seen when I was a debutant 28 years old architect/engineer.
      The fond memories of the Gate #1 would soon become a mirage of retrospect as the Garrison will disappear from the Dragon Hill, Seoul.
      P.S. I’ve casually met one day in 1966 that Mr. Lee of Samkajji in the lobby of the Majestic Hotel at the dock of Saigon River, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam. “Since then I decided not carry around expensive items,” he said and showed me his cheap Seiko watch.

      • The gate pictured above is the current Gate #1, aka Dragon Hill Lodge Gate, (former Gate #10) into South Post, Yongsan Garrison off Itaewon boulevard. Colonel Huber, former Yongsan Garrison commander, renumbered all of the gates to Yongsan Garrison Main and South Posts and Camp Coiner during his two-year assignment from July 2010 to July 2012. Renumbering the gates created confusion for the old timers who remember the original gate #s. Many people refer to the South Post gate at the Ichon Subway access as Gate #17, but the gate was renumbered Gate #13. There were numerous gates around the perimeter fence line which were walled off three decades ago. For an example Gates #6 an #9 were on opposite sides of the Itaewon Boulevard. Those gates were closed and a pedestrian bridge was built to connect the two compounds (Main and South Posts) in the early 80s.

      • John, @janowell good point. This is not the gate @sangsonam referred to. He meant Gate#1 back in the 60’s which as he well mentioned in his story it is currently Gate #7.

      • I realized his comments were for the old Gate #1, but the photo of the current Gate #1 appearing near that article might confuse anyone who looks at it and doesn’t make that distinction.

      • This is the correct gate that Mr. Nam was refering to.
        Gate 1 back in 1960 is not the gate shown in the photos. the one shwon in the photos is the gate that takes you to Dragon Hill Lodge.
    • When birds fly back to their nests
      Wood burning white smoke discharged from the farm house chimneys are lingering above the thatched roofs hazing the village in the distance. A man with A-frame on his back walks home in pace with his cow in front, holding its rein. He has finished the day’s work in the field. The sky was glowing with the setting sun and birds are busy flying back to their nests in the mountain, too.
      It was a summer evening about 1975 at a village, the name which I fail to remember now, but was in South Chungcheong province. I was sitting on a hill ground admiring the scenic sunset over the silent farm village.
      “Hi, what are you doing here? You don’t look like farmer,” said in an accented Korean and there appeared two tall women in the evening mist – short blonde hair, in a casual shirt and jeans – certainly not Korean but why blondes are in this remote farm village? And they sat on the grass beside me. “Well, I think those were supposed to be my lines,” I said. The two strangers laughed. The taller lady said she teaches English at a school in the town and they are the members of the Peace Corps volunteers.
      “I’m an engineer, doing with a group of soils technicians on the initial investigation of the soil layers along proposed highway,” I introduced myself (Trans-Asia Engineers was then subcontracted to a French highway engineering firm for the initial soils investigation along the proposed highway in the southwest region).
      As I faintly remember we have talked over half an hour in English and Korean looking over the darkening west sky after the sun went down over the mountain ridge. Some talks were about love stories of Korean youth. The American ladies said they fell in love with Korea. Staying in a village house without proper plumbing? I was amazed.
      We stood up as it was getting dark and said goodbye shaking hands. I kept my eye follow on their backs until the two silhouettes disappeared in the darkness. “Pioneer Americans,” I mumbled.
      Thirty-three summers have passed since and came another in 2008 when media introduced new Ambassador to South Korea, Her Excellency Kathleen Stephens. The report said that she had served as one of the Peace Corps Volunteers in South Chuncheong province and taught English at Yesan middle school. I was in Old Tappan, New Jersey, when I read a paper I’d picked up at a Korean grocery store and saw her photo. My memory flashed back on to that farm village, the most unlikely place, where I had casually encountered two lady Peace Corps Volunteers. It was her, the taller of the two, the affectionate and smiling American lady.
      I don’t think she, if it was her, would remember of her casual encounter with a Korean man at a village which was covered by a mist of smoke under a glowing sunset sky some 33 years before.
      The Korean medias now applaud with unstinted praises that lady Kathleen Stephens was the most loved American ambassador to Korea.
      By Nam Sang-so, a retired architect/engineer from the Building 1510, Yongsan Garrison.
      Credits photo -internet archives

      • Kathleen Stephens-archive
        Kathleen Stephens-archive
    • Last American POW in Japan @sangsonam

      Martin L. Zapf was 19 and a radio operator of a U.S. B-29 bomber. On August 8, 1945, some 200 B-29s left Tinian airbase in the Mariana Islands to bomb Yahata, Kyushu, Japan. His plane was shot and Zapf bailed out with nine other crew members over the Sea of Japan, now called East Sea in Korea.
      The pilot was killed, and the surviving crewmembers shared life raft, a few pints of water and a handful of candies. After drifting for seven days, they were picked up by a Japanese fishing boat and taken as prisoners of war. On August 6, Hiroshima was atomic bombed, as was Nagasaki on the 9th. The B-29 crews knew the bombing operation on Hiroshima as the 393rd Bombardment Squadron B-29 Enola Gay accompanied by two other B-29s left the same Tinian base two days before, but they didn’t know they were to drop atomic bomb.
      On August 15, the captured airmen were blindfolded, their hands tied behind them, and taken barefoot to Hiroshima where the atomic bomb was dropped nine days before. Japan surrendered on that day, but the U.S. airmen were not informed. Japanese Army Lt. Shinichi Fukui, who spoke English, was leading the party of 10 prisoners.
      “Open your eyes wide, and look at what you Americans have done to innocent Japanese citizens by dropping an atomic bomb!” shouted a Japanese army officer as the soldiers’ blindfolds wee removed. “We saw nothing. As far as the eye could see there was nothing but burnt-out ruins. There was no silhouette of a human being but the offensive smell of scorching meat was wafting in the air,” Zapf told American reporters after he was released.
      The U.S. prisoners were taken to a detention camp near Hiroshima port where they saw two of their fellow fliers who were caught as POW much earlier. Their bodies were festering from the radioactivity of the atomic bomb. The two sick men told the newcomers that 10 U.S. POW fliers who were shot down over Kyushu died in the bombing and the last two airmen died in captivity. The new POWs realized then that their colleagues on the two B-29 bombers that flew out from the Tinian base two days before their mission had killed 12 of their comrades.
      An angry senior Hiroshima military police officer ordered Lt. Fukui to decapitate all of the remaining American POWs. Understanding English, Fukui knew that Japan would lose the war, and risked his life in ignoring the order. The 10 POWs who had first witnessed the destruction of Hiroshima nine days after the atomic blast returned to their homes in the United States.
      Zapf returned to Japan in 1965 and found Fukui, who was then a farmer. The two former enemies, of the lifesaver and the man who escaped death, tightly hugged without words.
      In August 2005, Zapf, now 80, again visited Hiroshima. Dozens of old Japanese men and women warmly welcomed the former enemy. A 70-year-old fisherman stepped out and, after making three deep bows to the American, said, “I don’t know how to apologize for my insane act I had done to you 60 years before. I was one of the boys who had beaten you with a stick. You don’t know me, you were blindfolded.”
      “We are friends now,” said the old American who was undergoing chemotherapy treatment which he knew was prompted by his exposure to radioactive fallout.

      By Nam Sang-so, a Korean War veteran. His email addresses is sangsonam@gmail.com
      Note March 21, 2017: The above article was updated from the original feature written by the same author and was published by The Korea Times on June 1, 2015.

    • Different national anthems
      While the national flag symbolizes the pattern of a country, the national anthem is a patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people. It is “Aegukga” in Korean, and the lyrics roughly translate as follows:
      “Until that day when Mount Baekdu is worn away, the East Sea’s waters run dry, God protect and preserve our country… As the pine trees atop Mount Namsan stand firm, unchanged through wind and frost, as if wrapped in armor, so shall our resilient spirit…”
      The South Korean song for love of nation, in its whole sentences, is composed in a passive voice and the song never mentions attacking another country. The tune lacks the power of a military march but is solemn and magnificent music. That’s probably why South Korea is in need of the Star-Spangled Banner to help thwart the sounds of the Chines music “March of the Volunteers.”
      “Arise, we who refuse to be slaves; with our very flesh and blood. Let us build our new Great Wall! The Peoples of China are at their most critical time. Everybody must roar defiance. Arise! Arise! Arise! Millions of people become one, braving the enemy’s gunfire, March on! Braving the enemy’s gunfire, March on! March on! March on!” This aggressive song is the national anthem of the People’s Republic of China. Recently the original lyrics have been softened: “We who refuse to be slaves” to roughly “people of Chinese;” and “braving the enemy’s gunfire” to “for the future of communism.”
      The active and combatant Chinese song is comparable with the French anthem, “La Marseillaise,” which is personified on a marble wall of the Arc de Triomphe, with a leading woman revealing her thigh and a little boy exposing his penis. “La Marseillaise” contains bloody phrases: “Arise, children of the fatherland, the day of glory has arrived! Against us tyranny’s bloody banner is raised… Do you hear the roar of those ferocious soldiers? They are coming right into our arms. To cut the throats of our sons, our women! To arms, citizens, form your battalions, let’s march! …”
      Japan’s national anthem or “Kimigayo,” which translates to “His Imperial Majesty’s Reign,” is quite different from those of Korea or China. Its lyrics are the oldest and shortest among the world’s national anthems: “May your reign, continue for a thousand, eight thousand generations, until the pebbles grow into boulders lush with moss.” The tune itself is melancholic, slow and pale. It does not talk about love of their mountains and rivers, and it sounds like a sad love song or a funeral march. But it is the song for glorifying the Emperor. Still the music must be played with the Star-Spangled Banner.
      Some Japanese believe that it’s time to revise its national anthem so it would be as equally aggressive as China’s “March of the Volunteers,” while the passive Korean “Aegukga” will remain unchanged until the day Mount Baekdu is worn out and the East Sea runs dry.
      By Nam Sang-so (sangsonam@gmail.com), a Korean war veteran who had worked in the Building 1510 in the Main Post, Yongsan Garrison. This article written by the same author was once published by The Korea Times on September 23, 2015 and has been updated.

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