Gilbert Hauffels began completing his compulsory military service in the Luxembourg army as the Korean War unfolded. Luxembourg students had not learned about Korea in school, so he was curious rather than afraid as he arrived to fight as a machine gunner in 1952. While fighting at White Horse Hill, he watched soldiers die in artillery barrages. Since the war, Gilbert Hauffels has read extensively about Japanese occupation throughout Asia, and he thinks stronger apologies for atrocities are in order. Having returned to Korea more than ten times, he feels the sacrifice was worth it.
Death of a Hero on White Horse Hill
Gilbert Hauffels and the Luxembourg Platoon fought at White Horse Hill. They took position six hundred meters in front of the trenches, merely 400 meters from North Korean artillery. During the barrage, Luxembourgian Sergeant Robert Mores rushed in to save soldiers whose bunkers had collapsed on them. Sergeant Mores was one of two soldiers from Luxembourg killed in the Korean War.
Occupation and Missing Apologies
Gilbert Hauffels compares German occupation of Luxembourg to the Japanese occupation of Korea. Largely due to apologies from Germany, Luxembourg has been able to move past resentments from occupation, exchanging the negative term "Prussia" for the more expansive term "Deutschland" in reference to Germany and Germans. Although Shinzo Abe apologized to the Korean nation for occupation, Gilbert Hauffels notes that Japan falls short of apologizing for the use of Korean women as sex slaves. Having read much about Japanese atrocities throughout east and southeast Asia, he finds the lack of apology unacceptable.
Christmas Joy on the Front Lines
After R and R in Japan, Gilbert Hauffels’ platoon ended up back at the front near Cheorwon toward the end of December. Christmas Day, helicopters delivered turkey dinners to soldiers on the front lines. For the Luxembourg troops, Christmas in Korea was filled with joy, as they were on the verge of going home. Turkey and anticipation of returning to Luxembourg brought a lovely ambience to Gilbert Hauffels’ Christmas experience.
Returning to Korea: Pride and Fascination
Gilbert Hauffels marvels at Korea’s current economic status. When he visited Korea in 1975, even then the new buildings in Seoul were impressive. Traveling with veterans from Belgium, Luxembourg, and Netherlands, he met school children who honored his service. He has returned to Korea more at least ten times. Gilbert Hauffels is proud of his service, and he feels the sacrifices were worth it.
00:00:00 [Beginning of Recorded Material]
Interviewer (hereafter ‘I’): Would you please introduce yourself? Say your name and spell it out for the audience, please.
Veteran (hereafter ‘V’): H A U F F E L S.
I: And, your first name is?
V: Gilbert. G I L B E R T.
I: Could you pronounce your last name?
I: What is your birthday?
V: I was born on October 11, 1932.
I: So you are just eighty-seven?
I: Um. How old are you now?
V: Eighty-six now. Two months later,
I: You are a very young man.
V: Yes, I know that. I feel so. [LAUGHS]
I: That’s good. Where were you born?
V: I was born in Dudelange.
I: Could you spell it?
V: Yes. D U D E L A N G E.
I: In Luxembourg, right?
You left Luxembourg. And tell me about your family when you were growing up, about your parents and siblings.
V: I had my father and mother, and a brother who is twenty months elder than I. And, they were happy that I went to Korea for the war.
When I came back, they were really happy.
I: [LAUGHS] So, you were happy when you went to Korea?
V: Happy? No. I was just…
Female Voice: Oh, he was curious.
I: Uh huh.
V: I was,
Female Voice: curious?
V: curious, yes. I was curious to see a country I never heard before. It was adventure. It was somehow adventure.
I: So. At school you didn’t learn anything about Korea?
I: Nobody told you anything about Korea?
I: Oh, that’s too bad. [LAUGHS]
V: Yes. History that we learned about at school was the history of Luxembourg and the history of
Europe, and that of small opposite of other continents.
I: So. You didn’t know anything about Korea.
V: Never before.
I: Never before. You didn’t know where Korea was in the map either.
I: No. So, tell me about the school you went through; the elementary, middle and high school. What happened?
V: I entered to a
Female Voice: OK. He went to school to become an electrician who is working electronic.
I: You went to school to learn about the electricity.
I: And when did you finish your school?
V: Um. It was when I was eighteen years old. Then I went into the army.
I: When was it? What year did you join the army?
V: It’s ’50.
V: 1950. On the 29th of May.
I: Uh. So, that is just one month before the…
V: No, ’51. ’51.
I: So, you
joined the army in 1951.
V: ’51, yes.
I: So, you already know that the Korean War broke out.
V: Yeah. At that time I knew it.
I: You knew it.
V: Because the first detachment from Luxembourg was going toward Korea for the war. At that time I was in army
and I knew that there is the war in that country.
I: Did you join the army or were you drafted?
V: No. No.
Female Voice: He was compulsory military service.
I: So, it was compulsory.
I: Yes. And so, you knew that you were going to the war in the country that
you never knew before. Huh?
V: It was in ’52.
V: Yes. March, the beginning of March ’52.
I: Were you not afraid? While you were going to the war, were you not afraid?
I: But, you were curious.
V: Yes. I was curious,
therefore I wasn’t afraid.
I: It’s not right. You are going to the war. You may lose your life. But, you went there because of your curiosity?
V: That’s normal.
I: [LAUCHS] So. At the time you were twenty years old, right, when you go to Korea?
V: Um, nineteen.
I: Nineteen. Yes. I’m sorry. Constantly I added one more year to.
What was your specialty?
V: I was shooter of a gun with bar.
I: Machine gun?
V: A gun with two feet.
I: A gun with two pods. The machine gun.
I: Yes, yes. And,
did you learn how to shoot? What happened? What was the basic military training? When did you go to the basic military training?
V: It was…
I: Did you go to Belgium?
V: Yes, in Namur.
I: How long did you train?
V: Yes. My contract began from the 4th of February.
I: The 4th of February.
V: Yes, in ’52. Then we had to go to
Namur and Brasschaat near Antwerp in Belgium for the basic training. And then, we had two or three days off to go and say bye-bye to our family. [LAUGHS] Then we got aboard a plane in Brussels to fly to Ashworth, an island in the Atlantic.
V: Yes. It’s a small island. And from there we went to Newfoundland in Massachusetts of US.
And then, from there to Oklahoma City. And after Oklahoma City to Sacramento in California. From there to Hawaii. And from Hawaii to Japan.
I: Japan? Where? Sasebo?
I: Why did you have to go through all those locations in America? Why?
V: Because of air transport. We had to move by plane.
I: By plane. OK. So, that’s how you got into Korean. [LAUGHS]
I: That must be a good experience. You never got into an aircraft or airplane before, right?
I: No. [LAUGHS] That was a good tourism.
V: Yes, it was tourism. [LAUGHS]
I: How did you like America at that time?
V: Well. We had only a few hours to stay at the city and airport before we flew again.
I: Did you like America at that time?
V: Um hm. I don’t know. I don’t know. [LAUGHS] No, we were not. In Hawaii we had a good time before we headed off toward Japan. There we had to wait an airplane coming from Korea, and on the plain there was Andrew sisters, the famous American singers. Those three sisters, we accueillir (welcome) them.
Female Voice: Welcome them?
V: We greeted them with cheers.
I: So, how was it? Did they sing well?
I: Andrew sisters, were they singing well?
V: Yes, they were singing acappella.
The song the most liked was Roman coca-cola.
I: Roman coca-cola?
V: You don’t know that?
I: No. Can you sing?
I: [LAUGHS] You still remember that.
V: Yes. Yes. Yes.
V: I have the record of Andrew sisters.
I: I see. So, we would get back there. OK? If you can find them out, we can put this sing together with this interview. So, from Sasebo, where did you arrive at in Korea?
V: No. It was Tokyo at first. I found that the plane landed on Tokyo. From Tokyo to Sasebo, we moved by train.
I: Then, from Sasebo?
V: From Sasebo to Pusan by boat.
I: When did you arrive in Pusan? Do you remember?
V: The date?
V: It was…
I: The month?
V: It was the 2nd part of March.
I: In March of 1952.
V: Nineteen fifty-two, yeah.
I: And, where did you go from there?
V: From Pusan, we toke a train to go to the North, to Seoul.
V: From Seoul, um hm, we move to a certain area by car. I don’t remember the name of the city in that country.
I: Was it in the near to the Lim-Jin river?
V: Near. Yeah.
I: There was a river, right?
I: And you remember the Lim-Jin river?
V: Yes. Yes.
I: So, from Pusan to Seoul you moved by train, and then by truck you moved to the Lim-Jin river. Tell me about the country. You said you didn’t know where Korea was, you knew nothing Korea. Tell me what did you see from Pusan up to Lim-Jin river when you were riding and so on, or any part of the city that you saw.
V: At the beginning, it was wide plain. After that there were only weary mountains.
I: Mountain. Mountain.
V: Mountain. Mountain. Mountain..
I: Any city you saw? Did you see anything else?
V: We were not in Seoul exactly because we stopped before
in order to change for truck. By truck we went up to the second line.
I: Did you see any Korean people in the street, or anything? What is your image of Korea when you see those things at that time? Tell me without any hesitation.
Female Voice: [LUXEMBOURGISH SPEECH]
V: [IN FRENCH] Vague.
Female Voice: Wave?
V: Impression vague.
Female Voice: O.K. There wasn’t anything really awaked his impression. There was nothing specific.
I: Not specific? Nothing really?
V: No. It was novel. All is novel and completely contrary to that we see here in Europe.
I: So, it was so
quite strange, completely different.
V: Completely different, yeah.
I: But, being different is objective. What did you think about Korea? You told you had curiosity. So, now, finally you are in Korea. So, what is it?
V: At first time, we were in a small location placed with houses of roof with…
Female Voice: Houses had wood tops made of old straw.
V: Yes, old roofs. That is the first thing I have in my memory.
I: What did you do? You said that you are machine-gunner. And so, what was your unit?
V: We were a platoon of fifty persons.
I: I’m sorry?
V: And we were incorporated in the Belgium battalion.
I: Belgium battalion.
V: And the Belgium battalion was again incorporated in the 65th American
regiment, called Can-Do.
V: Can-Do, yeah. After that, we all came into the Third Division later.
I: Third Division. You join the 3rd Division.
V: Yes, as the 7th regiment.
I: I see.
You have such a good memory.
V: Yes. Sometimes I think back to. So every time my memories gain refreshment.
I: OK, it’s like flash upon you.
V: Yes. [LAUGHS]
I: So, what are those images of that you consciously flesh on you? What are the things you see now? What are the images you see most often?
V: Now or that time?
I: Now, yeah.
V: As I think of it now, I hadn’t been worried about the time that I was spending as, personally,
a man. Before, I was young. Passing through the time in Korea, during the war, I finally became a man.
I: So, what do you mean by that you became a man? Although I think I understand,
can you tell about it a little bit more specifically? Why did you feel that you’ve been changed?
V: Because of what I saw during the war.
I: What did you see?
V: I saw many deaths.
Tell me one scene that you saw many deaths, how it happened?
V: At one time when we were in reserve, we were opening the trenches. We moved on foot
from the reserve to a hill called Whitehorse. While we were digging the trenches, we met an artillery firing. A bomb exploded between the other soldiers and me
about twenty meters apart. One of the bombs was dropped only ten meters behind me. This attack was a good lesson to teach us when we hide ourselves under the earth. [LAUGHS] We learnt a signal.
Female Voice: Whistling sound?
V: [MIMICRY OF BUZZ], and then boom! After heard a bomb’s coming with buzz, I hide myself under the earth. [LAUCHS] My friends behind me did likewise. In that manner we should have been lying ourselves many times, but it worked well. As such we were able to go from the south side
to the north side of Whitehorse, then we dug trenches. Before then, there were a number of large scale artillery firings for three weeks. So, when we make trenches
Female Voice: Yes.
V: Yeah. While digging in the earth we found the North Korean solders’ dead come out. But we couldn’t draw all them out, so.
I: And then bury.
V: Yes. After the trench works finished, we occupied each position. I was in a bunker as position of gunner. In front of my bunker, just about six meters ahead, there was a lying North Korean
soldier’s dead body. In every morning and afternoon, during five or six hours of my service, I had to go with
Female Voice: chalks or powders
I: Yeah, smells bad.
V: Yes, bad smell. I didn’t take him away because there might be a mine under him.
I: Right. So, when the bomb exploded ten meters behind you, weren’t you wounded at all?
I: You were not wounded?
I: Wow! That was lucky.
V: Yes, I was lucky. But my friend behind me lost his helmet because explosion was so near that it did fly some meters away.
I: But, he was not wounded either.
V: No. no.
I: No. When you find a North Korean dead solder buried in the earth, what did you think about?
V: I was happy that it wasn’t I.
I: Does it still bother you in the nightmare or in the dream?
I: Not at all?
V: No. No, no.
I: But you said you became a man so that now you understand what the war was, right?
V: I understood not only what the war is, but also what the life is. I understood that life has certain value.
I: What is it?
V: My idea was that
I was aware that the life is something one must not get lost so lightly.
I: So, life is so precious.
V: Yes. That’s because
Female Voice: He got appreciated the value of life.
I: Yes. You appreciate the life itself.
V: Yes! That’s right.
I: You want to survive.
I: But you were not afraid?
I: So, then, let me ask some question. You saw so many deaths no matter it was ours or theirs,
the enemies. Still there are a lot of wars in the world. What are you think about this? What does this war mean to you?
V: Ah! It’s only a political matter. All war is political.
Most of wars are so different, but most wars
Female Voice: But most wars are nonsense.
V: Wars are nonsense.
I: Nonsense. So then let me ask this question. What is the importance of the Korean War? Is it also nonsense? Is the Korean War nonsense
to you? What do you think about the Korean War?
V: The Korean War is not nonsense because it was based on two political ideas different from most of the wars. First, it was for helping others. Second, it was not nonsense because, as you know,
it was the United Nations that made sure certain countries to go back up the American forces putting the enemies back to the North.
I: So it was against communism.
V: Yes, yes, yes.
I: So, the Korean War makes sense to you. Is it right?
I: I love this interview, really. I really like this interview. So, after that, Whitehorse is a very famous hill, for the battles toward it were really severe. Could you tell me more about the battles you experienced there?
V: Yes. At that time we were in the trenches.
I: War of trenches.
V: Ambushes, and the…
I: Take your time, it’s OK.
V: Our platoon, like many others, was in trenches about six hundred meters at the front of Whitehorse. Our position was on a small
hill called King.
V: Yes. On the hill King there was OP.
I: I see.
V: King OP. We were four hundred meters away from the North Korean’s artillery.
It was the peculiar artillery which shoots directly. Normally, the artillery was a howitzer, but this one was a direct fire, same
I: as a gun.
V: Same as a gun, yes.
At that position, we lost a sergeant who endured two hours of artillery fires. During the artillery attack, some comrades who were on the roofs of the bunkers fell down.
He was the first man who got to the place in order to save them. He made the artillery explosions keep two parts.
I: So he sacrifices his body to protect the others. What is his name? Do you remember?
V: Morris. M O R R I S. Morris.
V: Robert. R O…
I: Could you repeat that? L…
I: Morris, I know.
V: R O B E R T.
I: Was he Luxembourgian?
V: Yes, he was too.
I: So, he died.
V: Yes he died.
I: So, what happened after that?
Female Voice: They assaulted.
V: Yes, but for only a few hours because another thing was waiting us. In that evening and night we sent
two scouts to give alarm to the comrades behind in trenches. They saw or heard some North Koreans and Chinese coming.
I: This is Morris Robert.
V: This one, yeah.
I: Can you show it to the camera, right this? We went to the museum yesterday. We saw that those two soldiers from Luxembourg died, being killed. Two out of 85 soldiers from Luxembourg. That’s how he died. That’s a noble cause.
He sacrifices his life.
V: Yes. This guy was the first. He was killed in August, and one month later Morris died. Nineteen-fifty-two, yeah.
I: So, what were you thinking? It wasn’t you but Morris, but you always think about him.
V: Yes. As I said, there was firings continued for many hours,
and as people say in circus, ‘The business must go on’.
I: Business must go on. The show must go on.
V: The show must go on.
[VETERAN PASSES THE PHONE]
I: Thank you, sir.
I: Um. Any other story that you want to tell me about Whitehorse?
V: Um. It was a business as usual. [LAUGHS]
I: As usual. Weren’t you wounded at all?
V: I wasn’t wounded.
I: So, you were very lucky.
V: Yes. I was just once. In training I shoot a stone in front of me.
Female Voice: Swarf of the bullet.
V: Swarf of the bullet entered in my eye. It was not so severe.
I: So, are there any other episodes you still remember, which bother you, about any bad experience?
V: Yes, at the beginning
of November, I was RNR in Yokohama. For five days we spent such a good day. It was the same time as general Eisenhower was voted for the president of US.
I: How was in Japan?
was lucky. Good. But after, when I came back home from the war, I bought and read some books about the Korean War and some other aspects about the country. Then I understood that
Japanese were not good friends of Koreans because of such bad reasons. After that I came to dislike the Japanese.
I: By you.
V: Yes. I don’t like Japan.
I: Um. Luxembourg was also under the German occupation.
I: So did you
think about that when you said that?
V: Yes. Now, and at that time, people here Luxembourg said in Deutsch(German), keeping Deutsch(German) culture, he says the Deutsch(German) language. People of my age, we used to speak in Prussian(a North-German dialect).
Certain people here in Luxembourg said it’s no good to speak in Prussian because now we must forget it while speaking in Deutsch(German).
I: It’s a kind of native?
I: Yes. Korea was under the Japanese colonial control for thirty-five years. How many years you were under the German occupation?
V: Two times.
I: Two times.
V: ’14-’18 and ’45.
I: Yes. There are a lot of problems between Japan and Korea. But the real problem is
that Germans did really bad things to the Jewish people and all the people in the central Europe, but they say now that we did wrong, and they acknowledge that they did wrong and say we apologize, right? Do you agree with that?
V: Yes. I read that Mr. Shizo Abe has apologized to the Korean people for the occupation,
but not for the wives for the service…
I: Yes. Sex-slaves.
V: Yes. Sex-slaves.
I: So that’s the problem.
Female Voice: They don’t acknowledge that.
V: Yes, they don’t acknowledged that
part of the war. I don’t like that.
I: I mean that we have to go over all past, but those who were injured have to be acknowledged by the people who caused pain, right? They never
really apologized in all sincerity. That is problem. I’m very surprised that you are very straightforward at that.
V: Yeah. I read many books about the Korean War and the history between such Asian countries as Japan, China, Manchuria,
Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.
I: The entire south-east Asian countries.
V: Yes, all the southeast.
I: Yeah. That’s what Japan dreamed about during World War II, and still they are not really coming out of it because they continue to deny it and are hurting us by saying
that we did do nothing about it. Things are like that. It’s not good. Um, what kind of book you read? Can you give me some title of the book you’ve read about the Korean War? What book did you like most?
V: No, I cannot give the title.
I: OK. You went to Yokohama,
and then you found that Korea and Japan are not on good terms. So after came back from RNR, what did you do? Where were you? Were you still in Whitehorse area, or did you move to another place?
V: No, it wasn’t Whitehorse area. It was a different. It was past November. I don’t remember
the name of the location. Ah! It was near Chul-won.
V: Near Chul-won, yeah.
I: So, what did you do there?
V: Then, we went to the front at the end of December. There,
we greeted Christmas and the New Year. For Christmas a helicopter brought us a good menu.
I: Christmas menu.
I: What did you eat?
I: What else? Did you drink whisky at the time?
V: No, we didn’t. Just beer.
I: Just beer.
I: What is your favorite whisky now?
V: Now? [LAUGHS] I drink just a small.
I: Small amount.
V: Yes, a small amount
once in a day. My favorite whisky is Jack Daniel.
I: Jack Daniel. Yes. I like that too.
V: Oh. [LAUGHS]
I: What was your Christmas like: in December which was very cold, and in Korea, a country you never were before? What was your Christmas like?
V: It was the very last period of our duty in Korea. So it was different in terms of
[IN FRENCH PRONUNCIATION] ambiance,
[ALWAYS IN FRENCH] ambiance.
Female Voice: different feeling?
[STILL IN FRENCH] ambiance.
V: [STILL IN FRENCH] ambiance.
I: Uh huh.
V: We were on the way to go back, and the hope for going back home soon made us jump for joy. It was the very last part of the time.
V: As I say that,
we had a good turkey for Christmas. We were really happy at that time.
I: Happy. So, when did you leave Korea?
V: Korea, we left January 15 or 16, 1953.
I: So, when you were in Korea,
did you write letter to your family? Did you have a girlfriend at that time?
V: Yes. We did. Please?
V: No! No, no.
I: You were twenty year old man then, but you didn’t have any girlfriend?
V: There were many girls I was acquainted with. But I had no special one.
I: Not especially. So,
did you write letter to them?
V: No, just to my close friends and to my parents.
I: Your parents. What did you write about?
V: Every time I wrote about the things like relationship, family history and so on.
I: Um. Did you receive letters from your parents too?
I: What was it like to read your parents’ letter in the midst of war?
V: My parents wrote a letter to me probably once, maybe twice. I had kept that letter a good while. But in the course of
changing residence I lost it because I had to frequently change my residence. So, many objects of that time are likewise
V: lost, yeah.
I: Do you still keep that letter from your parents?
I: You don’t have any letter.
I: No. So, when you were in Korea, what was your rank?
V: Private soldier. Pfc. Private first class.
I: First class. How much were you paid? Do you remember?
V: Yes. It amounted to 5 000 francs.
I: Five thousand francs.
V: Yes. It was much. It consisted of a given amount of francs per day and [IN FRENCH] ‘prime de guerre’, war money.
I: Yes. War-payment. So, altogether 5 000 francs
I: per month.
V: Per month, yeah. My father had only 3 000 and 6 or 700 at that time.
I: Aha. You were richer than your father.
V: Yes. [LAUGHS]
I: So, what did you do with that money?
V: I send it back home.
I: You did? To home?
V: Yes. A total of 30 000 francs.
I: To your parents?
V: Yes, to my parents. All the money for six months.
I: So, did they keep that money for you or spent by themselves?
V: They kept it for me. After the war I was still in the army for about three and half years. I wasn’t paid well then, so it became my reserve fund
kept at home.
I: Reserve. Yes. What did you do? What was your job after the war?
V: After the job in the army, I changed my occupation as a customs officer.
I: OK. Let me ask this question. You said you left Korea on January of 1953.
What do you think about the war at that time? I mean what was your feeling when you left Korea? Did you think that Korea become like this today?
V: [VETERAN SEEMS MISUNDERSTOOD THE QUESTION. HE SPEAKS OF THE DIVISION OF THE TWO KOREAS AFTER THE WAR.] Yes. I thought so. I remember
that people argued about the armistice treaty at that time. Already
the news says that the armistice would make Korea stay in that state and nowhere else. So I couldn’t have any ideas other than such a prospect.
I: I see. But,
Gilbert, that armistice has never been replaced by the peace treaty at all. It spends seventy years. We are still at armistice. We are still at cease-fire. What do you think about that?
V: It’s crazy. It’s crazy.
I: Why is that? Can you give me any explanation about it?
V: I cannot.
On the table of the armistice treaty, there were the countries far from Korea, but South Korea wasn’t. It’s crazy.
I: Yes. South Korea was not in that armistice either. You know a lot. This is crazy, isn’t it?
V: Yes. For me, it’s crazy.
I: Do you know of any war
that has last more than seventy years after the official cease-fire?
V: No, no. I’ve never heard about that.
I: I don’t understand either. What can you do about it?
I: Nothing. That’s a very sad reality. Do you know the ranks of Korean economy strength now in the world?
V: 4th or 5th? Maybe 6th?
I: [LAUGHS] It’s the 11th largest economy in the world.
I: Yes, 11th.
I: Can you believe that? A country you saw in 1952.
V: I went back again Korea in ’75 for the first time. In ’75, we stayed in Seoul.
Seoul was still with many ruins. In ’75, we were in a bus, and over the windows there were placard.
Female Voice: There was a poster?
V: Yes. There was the poster that reads as ‘welcome Belgium-Luxembourg veterans’. I got the impression from the children, from five to eight year old, who suddenly got into the bus
and ask us to go out for greeting them. That was a strange impression. Those poor children were coexisting with such new buildings and so on. Many old stations
were still in Seoul, but more than that, there were many newly built ones. During that time I made acquaintance of a journalist for the veterans
journal. He asked what all those changings mean to me. I said that when I see what happens now in Korea, I think our sacrifices run on the lane. And he agreed with that.
I: So you were proud
I: That was the first time when you go back Korea in 1975. Have you been back again to Korea since then?
V: Yes. In ’76, I managed a group of veterans and their wives in Luxembourg. And again I want back in ’79,
at the time that the president PARK was killed.
I: So, is it when you were in Korea that the president PARK was killed?
V: No. It is just after we came back home.
V: I have been to Korea six or
seven times. Aside from that, I have been to Korea to participate in conventions. To convention.
I: To convention.
V: Convention with…
I: With other Korean War veterans?
V: Yes. It is called International Federation of Korean War Veterans Association.
I: I see.
V: So, what do you think about the Korea now
and the Korea before you saw? What do you think about this whole transformation?
V: It is a big jump between that time and this time. I think it is not only about Korea, but I think it’s about all the south-east countries.
V: Vietnam also. I have been to Vietnam; Hanoi, Saigon, and Ho Chi Minh City. They are the same. There were also big explosions in terms of population and also images
of the country.
I: So, there are such a good changes coming from Korean War in South Korea, right? Why don’t we teach about this? Why did it become a forgotten war? Why do not people talk or teach about it in the school? Why is it so? If you got it,
give me a good reason. Why?
V: I don’t know. I don’t understand that.
I: In Luxembourg…
V: I think that’s because of the Vietnam War in which US was much involved.
And at that time, the Vietnam War was the only war. That may be one cause that made the Korean War a forgotten war.
But what about…
V: I also remember the six persons who were dedicated to the Koran War Memorial in Washington. That was interesting. Mr. President Clinton, the president of the US at that time, made a very good speech.
He said that the Korean War wasn’t from a police action, but it really was a war.
I: But what about in Luxembourg? Luxembourgian didn’t go to the Vietnam War. Why don’t we now teach about the Korean War in Luxembourg?
V: Um. Once we came back from the war,
we were considered just as an adventurous or a half-murderer. We weren’t in many contacts with the populations. They forgot us.
V: And also, all that time, there were only a small number of people who were interested in the Korean War.
I: That is why we are doing this. I want to preserve your direct witnesses, all things you said about Whitehorse, Morris Robert, and everything else. And then working with national museum
of military history and history teachers association in Luxembourg, we can make a better lesson plan for the teachers about the War. And so then we can talk about more about the war for future generation in Luxembourg. That’s why we are doing this.
V: I hope the same for the Korean people.
I: Yes. We will do that too. Anything you want to say
about your experiences in Korea? To the people in Korea who are going to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the breakout of the Korean War next year, 2020, is there any special message to the Korean people?
V: I think I’m able to go to Korea for that occasion.
I will go.
V: Again, yeah. And I think Elizabeth can go with me. Do you? (N.B. Elizabeth, the interpreter who is veteran’s granddaughter.)
Female Voice: I hope so.
V: I can go with a person who helps me.
V: [TO HIS GRANDDAUGHTER] So, you can go with me.
I’ll make sure that MPVA is aware of your intention and you can be invited as going together with Elisabeth.
I: So, tell me. You had curiosity, and it was an adventure to go to Korea, a country you never knew before. But, now, you have been at least 10 times to Korea. You even understand the history of the Korea.
What is Korea to you now? What is Korea to you personally?
V: Um. It’s about a good memory.
I: Good memory.
V: Good memory, yes.
I: What is your good memory?
V: The memory
about the wartime I passed. Even after, I bear in memory my trips to Korea. It was always interesting; all my trips back to Korea. At every moment, there was news. In each town I had been, for instance, Pusan,
Kyung-Ju, Hae-In-Temple, Kang-Reung, and a mountain in the north of Kang-Reung.
I: Yes. Mt. Sul-Ak.
V: From there you can see Mt. Keum-Kang.
I: Yeah. I love this guy. You are in love with Korea.
V: Yes. Some months ago I’ve read a lovely book about the history of Chun-Hyang.
Yes. [LAUGHS WITH ADMIRATION]
V: You know that?
I: Of course! Do you know Ari-rang?
I: Can you sing?
V: Yes, but not all.
I: But just part.
I: [VETERAN SINGS ARIRANG] A-ri-rang….
V: There, I finish.
I: Wow! This is amazing interview. I’m really glad to interview you. I mean, we were in the national museum, and we heard that you had to go to hospital to just check, but I’m back to you. I really enjoyed the conversation with you, the way that you tell us about your experiences.
I think this need to be heard by the young generations and our history teachers. So they can talk more about the war that one soldier from Luxembourg remembers Korean War.
V: Yes, we will be good.
I: So we are going to do that. And on behalf of the Korean government and Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs of Republic of Korea, we are doing this interview to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the break-out of the Korean War. We are doing that. I want to thank you for your fight and
for your love of Korea.
V: Thank you. [IN KOREAN] 감사합니다.
I: [IN KOREAN] 감사합니다.
[End of Recorded Material]