Skip to comments.Eyewitness: A North Korean Remembers
Posted on 08/15/2002 9:04:38 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple
1956 - I am a physics major at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. My Mormon friends provide me with funds and a job. I am adopted both literally and mentally into Mormon families. I live with my old war-time friend, Averd Wilson.
Photo: With a friend's child on the BYU campus
Averd works his uncle's farm in Wilson, Utah. Early every morning, Averd and I feed cattle and ducks while his young wife Mary cooks breakfast meals. Mormons do not drink coffee or tea, but potsam, a coffee taste alike, is consumed in huge quantity.
I learn that most Americans are not at all like the racist gangsters which fill the high ranks of the US military branches. The American citizens are by and large hard working caring people. They would not drop napalm on innocent women and children and kill 6 million Korean civilians. Why have they allow their military to commit such barbarism? I really don't know. Maybe, they are either ignorant of what their generals do or a bunch of Bible-toting hypocrites.
For the first time since June 25, 1950, I settle down to the serious business of studying. Thanks to my newly adopted Mormon families, my spirit is at peace at last so that I am able to concentrate on reading books and on gaining knowledge that has nothing to do with war. (photo: With a friend's daughter on the BYU campus.)
I am in great demand as a speaker at civic and Mormon church gatherings. I have put together a slide show of Korea and engage in a one-man propaganda war. Most folks hear know very little about Korea and fascinated by my "war" stories. Many women cry after hearing my life story. I am ashamed to admit that I have stretched the truth now and then to get more sympathy and attention.
I am semi-officially adopted by a wealthy Mormon business family - Mr. and Mrs. Smith. They emigrated from New Zealand a few years ago. Mr. Smith is a auto dealer in Provo, Utah. They have one son (in the US Air Force) and a young adopted daughter. Soon after, Mr. Smith dies of a heart attack. I have the honor of giving the eulogy at his funeral. I cry my heart out as if I have lost my real father.
In Oct. 1956, I get a janitorial job at the Brigham Young University and move into a basement room in Provo, Utah. There I room with Mr. Sung from Seoul, Korea. There are five Koreans (three males and two coeds) at BYU and we meet almost every night.
Dec. 10, 1956 - My education is temporarily put on hold. While working as a janitor, a piano falls on my right foot and smashes it badly. An ambulance takes me to a hospital, my new home for three whole months. My doctors want to save as much of my foot as possible which meant that I had to endure much pain and agony while my mangled food tried to heal itself. I had to watch an intense war between gangrene and penicillin injections. Thanks to my surgeons, I end up losing only two toes.
It is ironic that after having survived the World War II and the Korean War without a scratch, I end up losing part of my foot in America! I very much regret that I have been unable to thank my nurses, doctors and friends who have put up with my childish and often insane antics during my stay at the hospital.
June 3, 1957 - I receive BS in Physics and move to Purdue University at West Lafayette, Indiana for Ph.D. in nuclear physics. I hitch a ride with a Korean friend going to Indiana from Salt Lake City.
1960 - There are a number of S Koreans studying at Purdue. Prof. Choe of Seoul National University (Dept. Chemistry) had studied at Purdue a few years earlier and he has been sending his graduate students here for Ph.D.
One fallout from the Korean War is that America has opened its door wide for Korean students and orphans. Many colleges and universities offer scholarships to Koreans. Many Americans try atone by adopting Korean orphans. In addition, the S Korean Military Academy sends its top students here for advanced degrees. You run into Koreans everywhere in the United States.
1961- I room with Jung Won and Choe Ku Whan. Dr. Won is to become director of the Korean National Bureau of Standards and Dr. Choe is to become president of a large university in Korea. The lady holding my hand in the photo is a famous Korean singer. (photo: Dr. Choe, a Korean singer, me, and Dr. Won.).
I actively participate in Mormon Church (Latter Day Saints) in West Lafaytte and enjoy close relations with many wonderful American Mormons - Prof. Lowe and his wife (Mayda) care for me as if I were their own son.
June 5, 1962 - I receive Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Purdue University and accepts Assistant Professorship of Physics at the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.
I teach one course and devote the rest on research for the US Atomic Energy Commission. Much of my time is spent at the Argonne National Laboratory as Visiting Scientist. I also have worked at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, CERN (Switzerland) and Rutherford Laboratory (England.)
I have published over 200 research papers on nuclear physics topics and attended physics conferences in England, Switzerland, and many cities of the United States. I consider myself an average nuclear physicist - no significant discovery or everlasting contribution to the world of physics.
Long ago, I have realized that my anti-Communist crusade was based more on my personal experience than an ideology. Kim Il Sung took away our land. A peasant mob killed my brother Sung Sik and forced us to flee our hometown.
Kim Il Sung took away our factory. The Soviets took the food, factories and other properties left behind by the Japanese which should have belonged to the Korean people. Kim Il Sung was wrong to expel all pro-Japanese Koreans - he should have purged only those Koreans who had worked for the Japanese security forces.
Many Koreans turned anti-Communist when Kim replaced pro-Japanese technicians and administrators with semi-illiterate and incompetent peasants and workers - most of whom joined the Party more for personal gains than political ideology. Kim's increasingly paranoiac self-adulation and personality cult did not help Communism in Korea.
July 1, 1980 - I resign my associate professorship to start Kim Petroleum Computers, Inc. - a computer software company.
Photo: My family in 1985
I have a large family to feed and have had enough of campus politics and boredom. My career as a capitalist has seen ups and downs; I have been bankrupt once and I have made millions only to lose it all - but I have no regret for having left the tenured ivory tower into the vortex of capitalism.
My brother Ung Sik, my only blood relative in America, has become a capitalist. He retired from a long medical career in S Korea - director of a leprosy colony, vice minister of Health (ROK), private practice in Seoul. He is a devout Christian elder and has raised 5 children in America. He owns a retail store.
My own political views have changed from anti-Communism, to a "dog-eat-dog" capitalism to a humane socialist-capitalist. After having witnessed the corruption and pro-Japanese sentiments of the S Korean officials - civic, military and police - I can feel the pain and resentment felt by the so-called communist rebels in S Korea. Anyone against the corruption and the traitors was labeled "communist" and persecuted by the pro-Japanese traitors working for the Americans and their puppet dictator Syngman Rhee.
Over the years America has changed from a racist society to the most racially tolerant society in the world today. The Korean War was a racist war much as the Indian Wars were in the 19th Century. The American military had no qualms about killing six million Korean women and children. A decade later, the American people raised their voice when their military committed atrocities against the Vietnamese civilians. Lt. Kelly was court marshaled for a war crime at My Lai. There were thousands of My Lai's in Korea but not a single soul in America has raised a voice of conscience or remorse.
During the Korean war, as during the Indian Wars, the racism came from the top:
1943: Teheran: Pres. Roosevelt tells Stalin - "Koreans are not yet capable of exercising and maintaining independent government and...they should be placed under a forty-year tutelage." Sept. 1, 1945 - Gen. Kozuki Yoshio - "There are communists and independence agitators among Koreans who are plotting to take advantage of the situation to disturb peace and order here." In later messages that day and the next two days to US, Kozuki warned of possible sabotage of the US landing in Korea by "red" labor unions, also fabricating tales of "Korean mob violence against the police, theft of munitions, and strikes." Gen. Hodge, head of the US Military Government In Korea - "Koreans are breeds of the same cats as the Japanese,,, treat Koreans as defeated enemies." Gen. Hodge places Rhee under surveillance. US CIC (Counter Intelligence) taps Rhee's phones and reads his mails - both incoming and outgoing. Mark Gayn of the Chicago Sun - "Rhee is a sinister and dangerous man, an anachronism who had strayed into this age to use the clichés and machinery of democracy for unscrupulous and undemocratic ends." June 25, 5 p.m. 1950 - MacArthur - "This is probably only a reconnaissance in force. If those asses back in Washington only will not hobble me, I can handle it with one arm tied behind my back." July 2, 1950 - Pusan: Gen. Church - a few white soldiers will scare the shit out of the gooks and the war would be over in no time at all. Gen. Hobart Gay, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division - "ROK troops are not ready for any serious combats." Gen. Gay evicts all Korean civilians, women and children, from his area of operation. His eviction includes S Korean police as well. Oct. 14, 1950 - Wake Island: MacArthur - "I do not fully understand why the Chinese have gone out on such a limb and they must be greatly embarrassed by the predicament in which they find themselves." Jan 8, 1951 - Gen. Ridgway - "shoot any civilian suspected of being a communist before they become prisoners." He asks MacArthur's permission to use poison gas. Gen. Ridgway - "The Chinese and Koreans are in appearance but a shade above the human beast. It is by the use of such human canaille that the Soviets are destroying our men while conserving their own." March 10 - Tokyo: MacArthur - "It can be accepted as a basic fact that unless the authority is given to strike enemy bases in Manchuria, our ground forces as presently constituted cannot with safety attempt major operations in North Korea. If I were still not permitted to attack the massed enemy reinforcements across the Yalu, or to destroy its bridges, I would sever Korea from Manchuria by laying a field of radioactive wastes - the byproducts of atomic manufacture - across all major lines of enemy supply. Once the enemy supplies are exhausted, American reinforcements and Chinese Nationalists will make simultaneous amphibious and airborne landings at the upper end of both coasts of North Korea, and close a gigantic trap. The Chinese would soon starve or surrender. Without food and ammunition, they would become helpless. It would be something like Inchon, but on a much larger scale." May 3-6, 1951 - "Plan Everready" - This is a revised version of the "Operation Everready" devised by Muccio in 1949. The Plan has three options: (1) ROK troops refuse to follow UN commands, (2) ROK troops go alone, and (3) ROK troops and civilians turn hostile to UN forces. Under (1), US forces would occupy major cities and military installation and place ROK units under increased (they are already being watched) surveillance. Under (2), ROK units will be disarmed and the ROK government will be taken over by US personnel, and under (3) Rhee and other leaders will be eliminated and the trusted ROK commanders will be put in charge (many Korean generals, including the Chief of Staff, Gen. Jung Il Kwon, are on the US payroll). US Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Collins - "Every time they are hit by the Chinamen, they just plain run." (re: ROK Army performance) June 14, 1952 - Muccio informs Acheson that the time has come to get rid of Rhee once for all. He recommends that Gen. Clark order the ROK Army Chief of Staff to take over Rhee's government. Truman agrees and orders the State and the JCS to formulate an action plan. Dec. 17, 1952 - Eisenhower - "There is no sense in the UN, with American bearing the brunt of the thing, being constantly compelled to man those front lines. This is a job for the Koreans. We do not want Asia to feel that the white man of the West is his enemy. If there must be a war there, let it be Asians against Asians, with our support on the side of freedom." Gen. MacArthur - "Rhee will be killed in a few weeks, when the Korean people find out the truth." It is true that one cannot and should not apply today's social conscience to a war of long ago. The Korean War was to defend a corrupt dictator Syngman Rhee and the ego of a weak American president, Truman, abetted by an old fading war-monger, MacArthur, groping for his last hurrah. A civil war which would have been short and relatively blood-less was turned into a major battle ground by Truman.
During the War, the American press was either censored by MacArthur or indifferent to the Korean people. The American people by and large were ignorant of what their government was doing in Korea much as they were either unaware of or supported the killings of Indian women and children by the US Army and their scalp hunters - Uncle Sam paid for any Indian scalp and propagated the notion that the only good Indian (gook) was a dead Indian (gook).
Most American historians of the Korean War say that US has suffered only 140,000 casualties while inflicting nearly 2 million casualties on the communists forces. No mentioned is made of the contributions made by the S Korean forces who did more than their share of the fighting. During the War, good many American units were under-strength and included Koreans (KATUSA). KATUSA casualties are of course not included in the 140,000 figure.
June 19, 1950 - A secret CIA document (Current Capabilities of the Northern Korean Regime) gives a fairly accurate assessment of the situation in N Korea - "The Communist system, itself inherently incompatible with traditional social, economic, and political forms in Korea, assures the existence of discontented groups under the northern regime. In the brief period of Communist control, nearly two million northern Korean refugees have moved to the south; the great mass of the northerners have not yet appeared receptive to a Communist, Soviet-oriented state, and indoctrination in Marxian ideology remains extremely limited.
"There is believed to be widespread discontent and dissatisfaction among farmers, for example, particularly among those who formerly owned large or medium-sized farms. The forced labor required on community projects, as well as the government's collection of large special crop taxes, moreover, has incurred the resentment of former landless tenant farmers, whose support was actively solicited by means of the 1946 "land reform."
The 100.000 or more Christians are strongly anti-Communist, and considerable discontent also exists among the pre-liberation middle classes. This popular discontent appears to be largely passive, however, and in the few known attempts to organize the opposition for action, the groups were quickly broken up by the police.
The low standard of living, although primarily are economic problem, has its political ramifications. The problem is a difficult one because the low standard arises directly and indirectly from other weaknesses in the system and cannot be resolved completely so long as the Soviet Union continues the economic exploitation of northern Korea."
North Korea has changed over the years. Its leadership has changed from (1) pro-Soviet puppets (who did not know much about Korea), (2) to militaristic partisans (most of whom had only rudimentary education) bent on military adventurism, and finally, (3) college-educated pragmatic technocrats. Kim Il Sung has purged pro-Soviet Koreans, S Korean Communist revolutionaries, Yanan Communists and most of his own guerrilla comrades. It is hoped that as the old revolutionaries fade away, a new generation of more pragmatic leaders will take over and lead N Korea to an open democratic society.
March 10, 1948 - A US CIA report on S Korea states - "The Korean leadership is provided by that numerically small class which virtually monopolizes the native wealth and education of the country... Since this class could not have acquired and maintained its favored position under Japanese rule without a certain minimum of collaboration, it has experienced difficulty in finding acceptable candidates for political office and has been forced to support imported expatriate politicians such as Syngman Rhee and Kim Ku. These, while they have no pro-Japanese taint, are essentially demagogues bent on autocratic rule."
South Korea has evolved into a more democratic society. As MacArthur had predicted, Syngman Rhee was toppled by the Korean people when they found out the truth about him. Today, the S Korean people have a democratically elected president and are firmly on the path to a full democracy and a world-class economic power.
This guy was there and experienced WW2 and the Korean war and gives good background and very interesting personal observations intermixed with chronological history.
We may not like all we read here, may find somethings titillating, but as conservatives we should be open to other ideas, thoughts and experiences.
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