By Laura Kim
I interviewed my uncle Jung Kim who lived in South Korea during the Korean War. His life experience during the war depicts everything that happened to a civilian at that time. Jung Kim was very independent. He retreated from tragedy when the country was overrun with starvation.
The Korean War began on 25, June 1950 when the North Korean army advanced across the 38th parallel against South Korea. The Japanese surrendered to the United States to end World War II. The United States forced Japan to make a democracy in South Korea. North Korea resisted since they were communist. The Allies said that Korea should be unified under an elected government. This led to conflict as the North wanted to unify under a communist government and the South wanted to unify under a democratic government. This conflict turned into the Korean War.
Beginning of War
It was a peaceful day. The weather was nice as usual in Seoul. Uncle Jung Kim was listening to the news by radio and he heard that North Korea just crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea. He was shocked at that moment because he never thought the war would happen. The news spread quickly. Without any preparation, the people hurried to pack their belongings and leave their home. Uncle Jung Kim was one of them. He and his family walked toward Pusan, the farthest southern part of the country. He walked 50 miles for several days with insufficient food and water. He felt that is was disastrous day. Walking to the end zone was chaos. He had seen many people fainting, crying and dying from energy dearth. While he was walking to the destination, the radio announced that theHan River Bridge was demolished from a bomb explosion. It was a shock because this was the only bridge that connected to the south. The southern government destroyed the bridge in order to stop the North Korean army crossing to South. By chance, he was able to cross the river in a fisherman’s boat support. He said they were his secret heroes.
Life in the 1950's
Life in the 1950’s was difficult. Uncle Jung Kim had the hardest times. He was 7-years-old at the time of the war. The violence was spreading and getting close to where he lived. The machine gun shots and bomb blasts made him and everyone fearful each day. Everyone was homeless with no food or hope. Some people lost their families and children became orphans. Many people including Uncle Jung Kim suffered from starvation and famine. Uncle Jung Kim slept in the street and begged for rice. He said the hardest time was waking up in the morning. He woke up fearful that his family would not be there or that he would be kidnapped. Day to day life was merely frightening. He believed that there was no hope for the future.
The End of War
After three years, the war ended as stalemate. So many lives have been lost. Among them there was Uncle Jung Kim’s uncle. He said the country was empty. He saw numerous people dying in the street. Many of his friends lost their lives. The loss of his uncle hurt him miserably because he was the one who stayed with him the day before the war ended. In spite of these disasters, he never relinquished his hope. He was very young and he worked very hard to support his family and prevent the shortage of foods and supplies. Finally, the war ended. He said he lost many things but also gained much. He gained courage and dedication. Later in his life, he joined the South Korea Armed Forces to become a pilot. And from his great life experiences he realized:
“Once you lose everything don't give up because there is always a chance to recover.”
Interview with Jung Kim, January 2007
Naval Historical Center, The Korean War June 1950-July 1953, 02/01/07
Korean War Veterans Memorial, “A Jump Back in Time”, 02/01/07
Answers.com, Korean War, 02/01/07
Faqfarm.com, What Caused the Korean War?, 02/01/07
Historycentral.com, The Korean War; Causes of the War, 02/01/07
MSN.com, Korean War, 02/01/07