February 26, 2018

Positivity: Rescued from Korean War by US ship, now Olympic volunteers

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Gangneung, South Korea:

February 24, 2018

Their nicknames, bestowed upon them long ago: “Kimchi 1″ and “Kimchi 5,” babies born aboard a ship that was helping them flee a war and a regime that, thanks to their rescuers, they’d never have to face.

Sohn Yang Young says he owes his life to the U.S. military. So does his friend Lee Gyeong Pil. They were among five babies born on an American ship that ferried 14,000 Korean refugees, including their parents, from North Korea in one of the world’s largest humanitarian evacuation operations ever.

U.S. sailors from a ship called the SS Meredith Victory named the babies Kimchi 1 through Kimchi 5, nicknames that have become a symbol of the South Korean-U.S military alliance.

They are 67 now, all of them, and the whereabouts of three are not known. But the final two — Sohn is Kimchi 1 and Lee Kimchi 5 — are making their way around the Pyeongchang Olympics, promoting peace and reminding younger generations of South Koreans of their Korean War history.

On Friday, they were in Gangneung’s curling center, where South Korea’s women’s squad made a storybook run to the finals. The two men were volunteering for the Olympics with their wives, checking spectators’ tickets and guiding them to the right gates.

“I’m the fruits of the South Korea-U.S. alliance,” Sohn said. “The U.S. military is the savior of our lives and they saved my parents and other refugees. I always feel grateful to the U.S. military.”

Both Sohn and Lee say they feel comfortable being called Kimchi — happy, even. During a joint interview, they often called each other by those monikers and said they were “Kimchi brothers.” Lee’s business card, in fact, shows “Kimchi 5″ written alongside his name both in Korean and English.

“I didn’t become Kimchi 1 because I wanted it. It was like my destiny,” said Sohn, who runs a steel products trading company.

Their parents were among tens of thousands of civilians who gathered at North Korea’s northeastern Hungnam port in December 1950, hoping to board one of about 190 U.S. vessels originally mobilized to evacuate U.S. troops retreating from advancing Chinese and North Korean troops.

Those civilians were mostly North Korean residents who wanted to flee from the North’s harsh systems, such as big landowners, wealthy businessmen who feared political purges or others who sympathized with South Korea or sheltered southern soldiers.

The U.S. military eventually decided to ship those North Korean refugees to safety despite worries that the crowd might include North Korean soldiers disguised as civilians.

The 10,000-ton SS Meredith Victory was one of the last ships to leave the Hungnam port on Dec. 23, 1950. It discarded military supplies and other cargo to take as many refugees as possible. …

Go here for the rest of the story.


No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.