Sunday, May 6, 2018

Korean Conflict

U.S. forces target rail cars south of Wonsan, North Korea, an east coast port city, 1950.  U.S. Army Military History Institute photo via Wikimedia Commons

Joyce Sasse -
The reality of war and a country-divided presented itself to me within the first month of my arriving in South Korea in 1968. That’s when a group of North Korean guerrilla soldiers entred Seoul with the intention of assassinating President Park Chung Hee. Two of them were killed within two blocks of the Blue House. Twenty-four still remained at large – committed to violence or suicide.

Just as I sat down to lunch in the home of Beulah Bournes (one of our senior missionaries), there was a loud pounding on the gate, and much wailing. Several distraught women were ushered into the living room. Both Beulah and her cook became increasingly distraught as they listened to the women’s story unfold between sobs.

Because of the language barrier, I could only look on helpless until someone paused to explain in English.

Twenty years previous War broke out in what we now know to be North Korea. That’s where Beulah and some of these women lived, and from which they fled south. Helplessly, in the flight they had to leave the very old and the very young behind.

Those infants would now be nearly twenty years of age. Rumour had it that they were the ones specially sent to Seoul. Should they fail in their terrorist mission and need help, they were given the names of family connections where they could seek refuge in the city.

“Should my son come”, the distraught mother pleaded, “what can I do? Betray my son? Betray my country? God help me!!!!”

Today, as Westerners comment on relationships being re-established between North and South Korea, I remember the pain and the prayers of those women. Their grief for families torn apart was so evident.

Today the yearning of an elder to become acquainted with a brother or sister’s family in North Korea is so evident in a culture that is more than 2,500 years old.

Like a wound being repeatedly re-opened since 1950, when will the nightmare of division ever end?

Those of us who have never experienced such tragedy can only stand by and pray for peace.

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