INT: Can I ask you, now coming on to the end of the war, July 1953, what was your own personal reaction when you heard news of the final armistice had been negotiated?
HA: As I remember, armistice was signed at ten o'clock, July twenty seventh 1953 and in the front line we were told that there will be twelve hours of gap between actual signing and the implementation of the truce. As time approached, that was of night in the front line, ten o'clock, kind of eerie silence fell throughout the front line, as I was [inaudible] it from my bunker. Then finally the time came and we timidly came out of our bunkers to see if it was OK to come out after all and we finally found that it was OK to come out. On the other side of the hill there were all kind of explosions and the jubilation and so forth on the enemy side. At that time, it struck me that war ended after all and I survived this. I had a sense of relief that I survived this war. Then quickly, this sense of relief was overtaken by how can I say, anger or frustration, it's more like frustration. What the armistice meant was that the country now lay in utter ruins, under ash, a land still divided. Perhaps even though we did not start the war, but perhaps a unification may have been worthwhile of all the sacrifices we had, if country was unified. No, it was the same as the war started or before war started, with all the destruction and agony and pains and deaths and blood. It was totally, totally unacceptable to us and my soldiers included, they all fell silent, not knowing really what it's all about. [Inaudible] we wondered, at least I wondered was, where is the might of the West? We believed in the military and other power, strength of the West. We relied on it and they came to rescue us, but war ended without any conclusion. And we wondered what can we really believe now. Is it lack of the will on the part of the West, or is Korea being considered as some... something of troublesome that they wanted to forget about or what was it? That's strange, you know, the complex notion came to us and it was a rather frustrating moment for us, like young people like I was. I was twenty one, I think.
INT: Who did you blame for that situation, the North Koreans for starting it, the West for not resolving it? How did you explain away that...?
HA: Of course, blame for starting war would go to North Korea to begin with, and then of course the Chinese come in to help them, that was another thing that then we of course you know [inaudible] we kind of Chang Kai Chek of losing the mainland. Had he not lost the mainland, you know, there would be no North Korea or the rescue coming from China per se. So we would blame, but that's a foregone conclusion. For subsequently the fact or the reality, we blamed the West, lack of the will. But then, come to think of it now, I, you know, obviously the Western world, the world as itself or by itself had the [inaudible] and other priority and the inefficient Korea was not on the top of the priority.
INT: Can you try and paint a picture for me in words of what Korea was like at the end of the war? The guns had fallen silent, what did the country look like and what was the impact on splitting families and refugees and so on?
HA: The war had the devastating consequence. In South Korea and I'm sure in North Korea, which was bombed more intensely by the friendly air strikes, but then it occurred to us, or to me at least, that the more war is good, the war itself is good. At the same time, the [inaudible] of war was the worst, because Korea, which was unified as a single country since seventh century, never had this kind of [inaudible] war. There was skirmishes and so forth, but never a total war like this. And a brother fighting against a brother has a strange impact, because you're brother, how could you do it to me? And this feeling is mutual and distrust and animosity and hatred is so greater than the war between two different countries and this war tore apart the fabric of the Korean community, or society or people as a whole and the distrust which lingers even today, is so profound. And in that sense, the North Korean invasion of South Korea cannot be forgiven, even in the name of the [inaudible] unification and this really has left the painful legacy. Today, North Korea has twenty four million, South Korea has some forty four million population, and still we know that ten million of those population in North Korea and South Korea are misplaced and their families are torn apart.
INT: Tell me what the country and cities looked like, the destruction, the refugees and so on?
HA: The country which was poor to begin with was left bthe war a totally devastated, poverty stricken country. In Seoul I could see, without any obstruction, miles and miles. Buildings and houses were destroyed, flats and many farm houses in the local side also were destroyed by war and I heard some of the farm houses were bombed during the cold season by the soldiers to get some warmth. And there was a flood of refugees everywhere, and many orphans we could see on the streets, begging for a little food and so forth. We felt numb. We felt totally incapable of coping with the situation. There was a sense of total despair and dejection and I think for a while we lost our hopes in any way and again there was a great deal of the assistance, economic and other assistance came from the West, particularly from the United States, which I think kept our population from starvation. And there was no confidence left in ourselves.
INT: Let's cut there. Thank you very much...
END OF INTERVIEW