North Korea said Friday it will discuss with the United States resuming the recovery of American soldiers killed during the Korean War. A foreign ministry spokesman told the North's official Korean Central News Agency that Pyongyang had accepted the United States' proposal on humanitarian grounds and work is already underway to arrange talks between the two militaries.
following essay was written by Dr. John Endicott, President of Woosong
University. This article appeared translated into Korean for a Korean
John E. Endicott,
International School of Business
Daejeon, Republic of
Chung Cheong Today 7 September 2011
Something of Value To
Both Koreans and Americans
I am often
asked what I like to read, and do I read much in this era of television,
Internet, CVDs and countless other distractions that are part of modern life in
Korea or America. When asked, I usually respond that I always have some kind of
reading material handy to fill any undesignated time. Usually you will find me
reading autobiographies, biographies, histories that focus on the rich heritage
of the states in Northeast Asia, economic-fiscal- or business-related
materials, but hardly ever do I read a novel. No offense to those who write novels,
I just want to spend my time enhancing the data that I can use as I go through
the life of a very busy university president.
are exceptions, and today I would like to discuss that exception. Most of my
readers know that I teach one course per semester at the University. Many
wonder why with all the other things that have to be done by a president that I
be teaching – my answer is why not? This is the most
wonderful way to interact with the leaders of the next generation and perhaps
leave a little bit of me with them.
The reason I
bring teaching up is my colleague who teaches with me and makes sure the students
stay on schedule when I’m called away. His name is Jeffrey Miller and he has
been in Asia for the last two decades. He has been a reporter for the Korea Times, in fact, for six-years, and
has also been a university lecturer. But, most of all he is a student of the
Korean War. Recently he put his love of history, his exposure to numerous
Korean and American veterans of the Korean War, and his advanced skill as a
writer of the English language together and completed and published his first
novel called War Remains.
When I saw his
book, I was immediately taken by the picture of a soldier on the front cover –
it is quite impressive –actually a photo of one of the statues in the Korean War
Memorial in Washington, D.C-- but I had no idea the story that he unfolds
within the covers would be so powerful. Remember, I am a retired Colonel and
have seen some very sad things, but I was an Air Force Officer, so my
experience is not the experience of a soldier on the ground. It is here that I
realized Jeffrey had done his work. His graphic depiction of the intensity and
futility of the battles as the Chinese announce their presence on the battle
fields with full-blown human wave tactics had an impact I personally was not
prepared for. In fact, as I read the book flying back to Georgia for ten days
home leave I could not put it down. The only times I stopped were when I could
no longer make out the page. My eyes were full of tears.
Let me give
you a slight introduction to the book, but I do not want to ruin it for those
who also read it. The story focuses on a soldier, Robert “Bobby” Washkowiak
from Illinois, who enters the Army at the time of the Korean War just after he
marries the girl of his dreams and ends up struggling to survive the North
Koreans, the Chinese and the winter. Which one was worse in 1950 is a good
question, but it was the Chinese who finally took his life.
Of course, in
the confusion of war, he could only be identified as “Missing In Action.” This
is almost worse than being declared dead as the family has no way to put
closure to the event. This is the story of his wife adapting to missing and
finally receiving the official word that since seven years had passed her
husband was now considered dead -- Dead, but no remains, no funeral, and no
The rest of
the story is one of discovery. Son and grandson find his love letters from
Korea and begin to intensify the effort to resolve the terms of his passing. Ultimately,
word is received and the cold February night of 1951 in a place called Hoengsong
is related through a series of fateful encounters with a surviving military
buddy. It is a story that unfortunately is one that over 7,000 families of
missing veterans relive on a daily basis, but especially at birthdays,
Christmas, anniversaries, and other special events.
Jeffrey Miller has done a wonderful service
to those families, and to all of us who intellectually handle the war, but need
to understand how the military from two great nations came to know each other
and came to bond in a way unknown to most. It is a restatement of the special
bond that exists between America and the people of Korea. And it makes the
point that this relationship did not end in 1953 but continues, and continues –
unlike any other in the world.
Service for US soldier killed in Korean War set this week
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The U.S. state of West Virginia said Friday it plans to hold a special service this week for an American soldier killed in the Korean War six decades ago.
The remains of Cpl. James S. Murray were returned to his hometown from North Korea in the 1990s, but final identification was made only last December through investigation and DNA testing.
He was captured by North Korean troops while serving in the 1950-53 Korean War.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued a proclamation ordering all U.S. and state flags displayed at state facilities be lowered to half-staff from dawn to dusk on the occasion of the funeral service on Saturday.
"Today we remember Cpl. James Samuel Murray and the sacrifice he made for his country so long ago," said Tomblin. "It is an important reminder that our servicemen and women work diligently to protect the freedom we enjoy each day. It is my hope that the family of Corporal Murray will take comfort knowing he is now in his proper and final resting place."
The upcoming service comes as the U.S. seeks to resume talks with North Korea on the recovery of remains of American troops killed in the Korean War.
The U.S. recently sent a letter requesting a meeting with Pyongyang on the issue, according to the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), affiliated with the Department of Defense.
The North has not replied yet, DPMO officials said.
Nearly 8,000 U.S. servicemembers are listed as missing from the war and the remains of more than half of them are estimated to be buried in the communist nation.
Joint recovery efforts between the Cold War foes were suspended in 2005, with Washington concerned about the safety and security of its workers.