Posts Tagged ‘North Korea’

Childhood Dog Tag Hunts

Dog tag of Philip Ackley

Country “A”: “We don’t study that.”  “No, our teachers never talk about it.” “I may have heard about it in a movie but not at school.” Country “B”: “Oh, yes, we learn about it starting in grade school.” “It’s taught as a great victory.” “We study it in detail.” Living in Korea for the past…

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Teamwork, Freedom, and Choco Pies

choco pie

Remember the footage a few months ago of a North Korean soldier dashing across the border into South Korea, his fellow countrymen frantically chasing, yelling, and firing their guns at him? The video was seen by millions around the world. In the hours immediately following the dramatic escape, the 24-year-old, riddled with bullets and bleeding…

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Sending Them to Die

Lee Tae-Won protesting at Chinese embassy

At the age of 16, Lee Tae-won, convicted of helping a young woman escape from North Korea and deemed an enemy of the state, was sentenced to five years in a “re-education” camp or gulag. His father, an accomplice to his son’s treasonous behavior, was given the same sentence. As traitors of the Supreme Leader,…

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The Kimchi Babies

Kimchi 5 and Kimchi 1 at Dr. Hyun Bong-Hak's memorial

At some point during the early stages of SS Meredith Victory’s December 22-25, 1950, voyage from Hungnam, North Korea, to Geoje Island, South Korea, a baby was born. The ship’s crew was astounded. The men had never sailed with more than a handful of passengers aboard and had never dreamed that a baby would be…

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Hungnam Evacuation – A Christmas Miracle

Author’s Note After two and a half years of researching the Hungnam Evacuation for a book I’m writing about the historic event, I’ve become immersed in the story (or maybe obsessed, as my wife would say). Along with countless hours of research, reading, and editing, I’ve also interviewed 30 former Hungnam refugees, taught classes to…

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A Trip to the JSA

View of NK at JSA

It’s one of the saddest and most intimidating and dangerous places on earth. The Joint Security Area (JSA), or “Truce Village” as it’s frequently referred to, is a complex of small buildings that literally sits on the border of North and South Korea. Five of the buildings, collectively called “Conference Row,” actually straddle the line…

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Twenty and Counting

North Korean propaganda poster depicting destruction of US capitol

North Korea has launched 20 (yes, twenty) missiles this year. And we still have a month to go. Tensions on the Korean peninsula are at an all-time high, and as we look back on the Trump administration’s response to Kim Jong-un’s reckless and relentless pursuit of a nuclear-armed ICBM arsenal capable of hitting the US,…

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A Famous Landing and an Infamous Missile Launch

 Yesterday, the 67th anniversary of the Inchon Landing, was a particularly memorable Friday.    For South Koreans, the commemoration of one of the boldest, most successful amphibious operations in military history began with a typical early-morning commute and “Americano” – the coffee drink of choice for millions of Koreans. But, as has been the case all…

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Long Live the Lane Victory!

She’s a survivor. SS Lane Victory, one of 534 “Victory” class cargo ships built during World War II, has a proud and storied history. From trans-Pacific operations during the final months of World War II, to rescuing over 7,000 North Korean refugees in December 1950, to delivering supplies throughout the Vietnam War, Lane Victory and…

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