• Note from Marsha:
    My father was a young MP during the mid-1950’s assigned to Yongsan when he met my mother. Toward the end of his tour, he finally got his command’s approval for their marriage. However, my mother decided she didn’t want to marry and leave her family. After he PCSed to Germany, she discovered that she was pregnant. She contacted him and let him know. He promised he would return and take me back to the United States. She corresponded with him and his family about my birth and sent pictures over many years to let them know how I was doing. He returned after 8 years. I came to the United States in 1965.
    I was born in Yongsan to an unwed Korean mother and an American GI. I realized that unlike many other Amerasian children, mine was atypical story. I was brought up in a Korean family home, unlike so many like myself who were either abandoned or placed for adoption. For this, I will be forever grateful to my halmeoni, since I know my birth brought great shame to our family. Also unlike many of the others, I have always known who my father was and what he looked like from pictures. He, too, did not abandon me either.

    As a Korean-American child, Yongsan Garrison was place that was forever behind some gate that I was not allowed to go past. One day, I decided that I was going to find my father. From the outhouse window from my home you could see the road and the gate leading to the garrison across the gully between the two. One time, my mother held me up to the window and told me that my father had worked at the gate.
    In my mind’s eye, I can still see myself as a little girl walking down the main road I lived by, crossing a bridge over the gully, and coming around the corner to the short road that led to its entrance. When I arrived and tried to get thru the gate, the Korean MP stopped me. I told him I needed to find my dad so I could go to the United States. Of course, he informed me that he was not there and not to come back. It became my daily ritual for awhile to walk to the gate, but not to get too close and have a staring contest with the Korean MPs on gate duty. I finally got thru a gate to the Yongsan Garrison after my dad returned. He took me to the PX to buy a new winter coat and scarf the night before we flew to the United States, leaving my Korean family behind and losing all contact with them.
    I remembered when someone turned 60 in Korean years; it was a special hallmark and time of celebration. I promised myself that I would follow the Korean tradition and return to Yongsan when I turned 60, if I had not returned by then. I will be returning this September, a year later than I anticipated. I am elated that I can finally stay on Yongsan Garrison at Dragon Hill Lodge and go in and out any gate as much as I please. After 53 years, I am finally coming home to Yongsan!

    My main goal is to start looking for my mother and the rest of my Korean family.

  • Coco Cugat posted an update in the group Group logo of Where are you? I found you!Where are you? 11 hours, 52 minutes ago

    Note from Deborah Marshall on 17tth April 2018

    Here are the details of dad’s story, as promised. I have attached a word document with the outline story, as well as several jpeg attachments from a Saga Magazine article that was run some twenty years ago.

    Each time I read this story, my eyes fill with tears of pride at what these young sailors did so graciously for these little children. My dream and focus is to find any of them that are still living. Particularly Soon-Ok Chang, because she loves those sailors as though they are all her fathers. I feel so proud whenever I read this, and for me, if my dad is her father in her eyes then it makes her my sister in mine.

    My dad and his shipmates were on a two year active service mission in South Korea, and I am advised that one day in the harsh winter of 1951, while they were patrolling numerous islands off the north shore, a landing party were sent ashore to Paeng Young Do. There, close to a graveyard they discovered a ramshack hut, where 20 or so orphaned children were huddled together trying to keep warm from the harshest winter the country had ever known. (Parts of the sea had frozen over. There were young babies as well as children in their early teens. They were hungry and thin, and a couple of them were obviously unwell. There was little for them to eat, and so these young sailors (all around 20-25) sent word to the ship to bring gifts of food and clothes.

    The ship provided dozens of boxes of items to feed them and keep them warm with new clothing. Of course the clothes were far too big for them because all the sailors had to offer was from their own attire!

    In 2000, fifty years after the invasion, Saga magazine ran an article about this story, and were able to locate two of the orphans (by now around fifty years old) and brought them to London to reunite with those kind men who had shown them unconditional love all those years before.

    I would particularly like to trace these two people (or any others who are still living) to unite with them also. The man’s name is Kwang-Il Park, and the woman Soon-Ok Chang said at the reunion that she looked upon those sailors as her fathers, because they had treated her like a father. This being the case, I want to acknowledge her as my sister, so I really want to find her, or any of her family!

  • Coco Cugat posted a new activity comment 1 day, 23 hours ago

    Note From: Sangso Nam
    Subject: Skakji, Yongsan
    Re: A lady who was born near Yongsan Garrison

    Judging from her old memories of the areas around U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, I think it was Gate #1 (now Gate #16 I think), facing the main boulevard where tram was running ringing. The area was and is called Samkakji (which means triangular place).

    The open gully she remembers still exists in parallel with the main garrison road inside the North Post (Main Post). The stream photo attached here shows the upstream of the same gully. The trench usually runs a small amount of water but water fills full of the stream after storm or heavy rains as it originates from the slope of Mt. Nam on the northeast of the Garrison.

    As the pink allow I placed on the maps points, I believe she had spent her childhood years in that small island of town facing the Samkakji junction where cluster of small houses aggregated (now behind the wedding hall at the War Museum).

    While she was there as a child in 1957~1965, I went through the Gate 1, showing Yongsan Pass to the guard, and walked on the sidewalk along the gully to the design office of Trans-Asia Engineers on the hill of the then North Post. I got off the street tram at Samkakji station. And after the work, I with friends took the tram southward to Han River for swimming and sun bathing on the riverside sand.

    By the way, she might remember the flooding of the Samkakji and Yongsan areas about a foot by heavy rains in a summer (I forgot the year).

    An episode: The old gate #1 is still there on the same location and looks about the same. One morning I showed my wallet that contained my Garrison Pass in a transparent film to American soldier guarding at the gate #1. He took it and turned around inside the guard house and a few minutes later returned the walled, closed, to me. I put it in my pocket and walked for a minute and got suspicious about him and pulled out and opened my walled. A note of W1,000 (equivalent to W10,000 or $10 now) was missing. It was my lunch money for the day. I stopped, turned around to protest him (a tall African-American), but immediately I realized it won’t work. Turned around again, and I walked to my office.
    (Kim Chun-su, Jacco Zwetsloot and Mr. Kim of Dragon Hill Lodge hotel loved this story and they kept laughing when we were near the same gate house on our survey of the historical monuments in the Garrison a few years ago)

    S. Nam, April 16

  • Coco Cugat posted a new activity comment 5 days, 22 hours ago

    Al, do you have photos from those days?

  • Coco Cugat posted a new activity comment 2 weeks, 3 days ago

    do you remember when these stoped being housing and became the Boy Scouts of America hut?

  • Is this what used to be gate 1 back then? the one along Hangang dareo
    • Coco Cugat posted a new activity comment 2 weeks, 3 days ago

      Is this what used to be gate 1 back then? the one along Hangang dareo

    • Coco Cugat posted a new activity comment 2 weeks, 3 days ago

      beautiful wife! Did you meet when you were in Yongsan?

    • Coco Cugat posted a new activity comment 2 weeks, 3 days ago

      Micah! look at this photo taken by Morning Calm Weekly Newspaper Installation management Command, U.S.Army
      is this how the library looked back in the 80’s and 90’s when you were there?

      Micah: Haha! Wow, It is very close. I’m sure that was part of its progression! If my memory serves me correctly those vertical wooden sections weren’t there. Instead I recall they had bricks all the way down there those planters where and then a few concrete pillars.

      So cool to see it though. The only pictures I’ve seen are the ones from the 60’s and the current. Which, oddly enough are very similar. There aren’t many photos of when the front was bricked up. So glad to see this one though. I started to feel like I was imagining things in insisting that the front was bricked over before. Lol

      I’m guessing from the book return outside that it was already operating as the library at this point.
      So glad to have it! Those wooden beams look to be in bad repair. I bet they decided that was a bad idea for Korean monsoons and simply extended the brick work. That section of bricks you see, I think, had the metal letters “Yongsan Library” in the upper right when I was there.

    • Micah! look at this photo taken by Morning Calm Weekly Newspaper Installation management Command, U.S.Army
      is this how the library looked back in the 80’s and 90’s when you were there?

      Micah: Haha! Wow, It is very close. I’m sure that was part of its progression! If my memory serves me correctly those vertical wooden sections weren’t there. Instead I recall they had bricks all the way down there those planters where and then a few concrete pillars.

      So cool to see it though. The only pictures I’ve seen are the ones from the 60’s and the current. Which, oddly enough are very similar. There aren’t many photos of when the front was bricked up. So glad to see this one though. I started to feel like I was imagining things in insisting that the front was bricked over before. Lol

      I’m guessing from the book return outside that it was already operating as the library at this point.
      So glad to have it! Those wooden beams look to be in bad repair. I bet they decided that was a bad idea for Korean monsoons and simply extended the brick work. That section of bricks you see, I think, had the metal letters “Yongsan Library” in the upper right when I was there.

    • Coco Cugat posted an update in the group Group logo of YSL KoreaTimes ColumnYSL KoreaTimes Column 1 month ago

      ‘5,000-year-old culture collides with gaggle of knucklehead GIs’
      By Martin Limon

      For me, it all started on Yongsan Compound. A place where a 5,000-year-old culture collided with a gaggle of knucklehead GIs (myself included) who could barely find Korea on a map. The result was occasionally tragic, sometimes beautiful, but always provided an opportunity to become someone better.

      In the early 1970s, Yongsan Compound was a happening place. Korea was still emerging from the post-war era and the citizenry was buzzing over the recently completed Seoul-to-Busan highway and the high-rise buildings newly peeking above the skyline of the capital city. Meanwhile, Yongsan Compound was open _ relatively speaking _ to the world. The main gate was nothing more than a roll-back chain-link fence manned by a lone MP. At the Pedestrian Gate, a contract guard checked Korean base workers and military members and waved them through. So unlike the massive defensive structures protecting the gates today.

      Yongsan Compound was seen as a cornucopia of tax-free luxuries: Johnny Walker Black, Kent cigarettes, Stateside staples such as Folger’s freeze-dried crystals, S&H pure cane sugar, canned salted pork shoulder, even jars of maraschino cherries. Massive amounts of these imports were transported off base to help supply the appetites of a newly burgeoning Korean middle class.

      Patti Kim performed at the USOM Club, the Grand Old Opry at the NCO Club, and some of the best Korean singers and bands put on shows at military venues throughout the country. Politicians and chaebol owners hobnobbed with generals on the manicured lawns of the 8th Army Golf Course. Expert taekwondo instructors took students through their paces at Trent Gym. Night classes leading to degrees were offered by the University of Maryland Far East Division.

      But there was trouble in paradise. Crime, not only on base but off-base. Theft, embezzlement, strong-armed robberies, rape and even murder, most often perpetrated by GIs on the Korean public.

      This was the genesis for the series of novels I was eventually to write, beginning with “Jade Lady Burning” in 1992, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and most recently “The Nine-Tailed Fox” published by Soho Press in October 2017. My protagonists are George Sueno and Ernie Bascom, two 8th Army CID agents who because of Sueno’s Korean language skills and Bascom’s ability to blend in with lowlifes of any nationality, come to take on cases of increasingly ominous portent. They’ve appeared in 12 books so far, plus a short stories collection. It all comes from my years spent in Yongsan.

      Martin Limon is a full-time writer who retired from the army with 20 years of military service. He spent 10 years in Korea on three tours: 1968-69, 1973-76 and 1977-80. Visit yongsanlegacy.org to learn more about the history of Seoul’s disappearing U.S. garrison or to contribute your own memories.

      http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2018/01/177_242121.html

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