Thursday, May 04, 2017

From a friend's Facebook page:
The Korean War’s Brutality Turned the Stomachs of America’s Most Hardened Soldiers
Why Do North Koreans Hate Us? One Reason — They Remember the Korean War.

I don't know much about the Korean War, but I do have one anecdote that sticks with me.

It's from a former co-worker whose grandfather fought in the Korean War.  He told the story to her, and she told it to me.
I've always hesitated to post it on this blog for the reason that I'm so far removed from the anecdote that at this point it's 3rd hand, and hearsay.  (She told me this story about 10 years ago, and I've sat on it up until now for those reasons).
But for what it's worth, I believe it to be true.  And so I'll pass it on here, and you can accept it or take it with as many grains of salt as you wish.

During the war, her grandfather's unit was ordered to blow up a big pile of rice.  The villagers were starving, but the U.S. army was worried that the rice might get into communist hands if they let the villagers take it.  So the U.S. soldiers guarded it, and then after preparing the explosives, drove away in their jeep.  The starving villagers were warned beforehand that anyone who tried to take the rice would be killed as the U.S. soldiers drove away.
Despite this warning, the villagers were so hungry that they had to take the chance.  So as the jeep was driving away, her grandfather was in the back and had to machine gun down all the starving villagers who tried to grab the food before it exploded.
Her grandfather was haunted by it, but apparently these kind of things happened often in that war, and her grandfather explained that it was just what they had to do.

She told that story to me, and I reflected that I had never heard any of this before in history class.  And in fact, there was a good chance that it wasn't in any book anywhere.  It was just a story of a massacre of some starving peasants that within a generation would be completely lost to history.
And I bet there are a lot of stories like that from the Korean War.

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