Korean War, 1950~1953: the name misleading that just North & South fought each other. Far from it. it was between all the major powers at that period of time. UN lead by US & other major WWII victors and some other smaller powers like Thailand and Philippine.
I was only 2 years old, remembering nothing about invasion on early Sunday morning, June 25th, 1950. We lived a small family, my older sister, my parents in Seoul on the day. Like many other family, we were deeply affected by this murderous crime against their other people by North’s Kim Il Sung (a Soviet puppet and product by Stalin).
Like blitzkrieg of WWII Germany, they took Seoul in 3 days by unmatched firepower and Soviet heavy tanks. Now, we know they could have taken Seoul in much shorter time, but eastern invasion through Choonchun took more time than planned. Our president at the time was Dr Syngman Rhee, stubborn politician but very anti-communist, anti-Japanese which make him very very unique and popular among people. But he and his cabinet almost ran away overnight well before other helpless mass of people.
When they’re gone, also took only bridge on Han river was destroyed, made it more difficult for ordinary citizens to flee from invading “People’s Army”. I still don’t know why our family of 4 didn’t get out of Seoul during the chaos. My mother didn’t tell us about it, but my guess is that would be safer to hide than flee under uncertainty. My father was a high school English teacher, must have feared the communists didn’t like ‘intelligent’ people. Then the occupying forces rounded up all able-bodied male, took them to north. We still don’t know the exact circumstances but my father somehow didn’t hide, maybe naively believe nothing like that would happen.
My earliest war memories are very fuzzy but real, being under 3 years old. Our family of 3 lived (or hided) in a very small room well behind back courtyard of a house north of Seoul. I would guess it was summer of 1951 (well after landing of MacArthur’s Inchon, 2nd fall of Seoul by Chinese’s ‘Volunteer’ army, then pushed back to 38 parallel again by UN), relatively calm, but still hearing distant shell fires from northern Seoul.
Personally, I never seen dead bodies during the time, but remember lots of ruins, Jeeps and 3/4 ton trucks with GI’s, Turkish, British men.. ah, sky over Seoul was literally enveloped with F-86 Saber fighter planes, along with others like with fuel tanks at tip of wings (was it Mustang? no, it was Jet, probably F-9 Navy Jets). The almost stable battle front moved back up to the original 38th parallel, meaning Seoul looks relatively safe.
Without knowing my father’s fate, means for living, my mother struggles to make ends meet everyday for us. She found a work near where we used to live (near Secret Garden palace in the heart of Seoul) preparing foods for some ladies who comfort foreign soldiers mostly GIs and British soldiers stationed nearby high school(Hweemoon). I understand her work sounds embarrassing to her background (truly housewife, post-secondary graduates) but that’s the only work she could find. Now, many hours during her work, I used to play in the ladies’ house, seen many nice-looking soldiers with shiny medals, pistols, binoculars etc. They were very very kind to me (only 4 years old), gave me ‘genuine’ chocolates and candies.
The troop stationed nearby high school also distributed fresh milk, dried milk, dried eggs etc to our neighbors, lots of them. We’re treated fairly and nicely, but sometimes accidents happen like kids run over by 3/4 trucks, so tragic. After all, this is a war.. we all knew bad things bound to happen like that. July, 1953 saw end of war by truce. At least no more killings.. that’s good but the invading criminal Kim Il-sung’s regime stands still occupying northern half of Korean peninsula, no war criminals brought to justice, either.
Like us, so many family got broken up, losing fathers, mothers, grand parents, etc etc. Nobody witnessed the fate of my father. My mother sometimes relied upon fortune-teller about his fate, telling us he’s been killed while taken to north. I never remember him, but my older sister (3 years older) remember him vaguely, not vividly. From pictures, he looks very handsome scholar type. If he had survived to live with us, probably becomes a wonderful professor in college teaching English.
After 60 years, the criminal government still lives, now Kim Il-sung’s lunatic son ruining, starving his own people. History is there vividly, some not-so-smart people still try to rewrite the history to their own ideology. I’m really worried about the near future of Korea, knowing the North’s history, crazy government (more like Mafia than government).