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!
Her father was on an HMS (Her Majesty’s Ship, a British naval ship) in the winter of 1951 and a landing party was dispatched to Baekryong Island (백령도) off North Korean shore to be met by the orphans,so the story goes.
I was on the bridge of Korean navy LST (Landing Ship, Tank) 802 in the autumn of 1952 when the LST was carrying Korean Marines to Baekryong island under the barrage of North Korean artilleries fired from 장산곳Jangsan-cape, the nearest North Korean shore line to the island – some 17 km of water.
I’ve seen often the British frigates and destroyers (painted white) flying the Union Jack patrolling in the West Sea as the HMSs had been assigned to the western sea while the U.S.7th Fleet covered the East Sea (Japan Sea) during the Korean War (1950-1953).
When we passed each other, the HMS’s British gentleman sailors always signaled with morse light signals “Good morning, sir. What a beautiful morning.” They said even if it was a slightly foggy morning. Well, they were from a misty country.
I know there had been orphanage evacuations not only from Beakryung island but also Yeongpyong Islands, now located out of the Northern Limit Line off the North Korean south shoreline.
That’s all I can tell.
S. Nam, Seoul, April 2
The Yongsan Legacy project proposes to capture the historical and cultural legacy of the site and to offer a unique experience for the park visitors in the future.
ADD. 435-1, Huam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea