Therese Park

The U.S. and South Korea's lingering friendship built upon trust and loyalty

Month of September is an important month in modern American History as well as the history of many Asian countries, including my motherland South Korea. On September 2nd, Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Far East, read his speech to all on board USS Missouri, accepting Japan's earlier unconditional surrender to the allied forces and concluding with, "Let us pray that peace now be restored to the world, and that God will preserve it always." Behind him stood representatives of the Allied Powers--The United Kingdom, Soviet Union, Australia, China, Canada, and more, including U.S. admiral Chester Nimitz. This was two weeks after Emperor Hirohito's famous "surrender" speech had been aired, on August 15th.
"Despite the gallant fighting of our military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of our servants of the State and the devoted service of our 100,000,000 people--the war situation has developed (against) Japan's advantage, as the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb… taking the toll of many innocent lives…. This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the joint declaration of the powers…"
On September 8th, six days after the Tokyo Bay Surrender Ceremony, the first American troops landed on the Korean soil to prevent the Russians from taking the entire peninsula. Russia had declared war against Japan and its troops entered the North Korea to "disarm" Japanese occupation forces on August 8th, with request of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-un' grandfather, while Nagasaki was still smoldering from atomic bombs dropped only hours earlier and cries of the dying and of the mourners could be heard all over the burning town.
Gen MacArthur, with President Truman's urging, established Temporary U.S Army military government in Korea in Seoul, which lasted three years, before leaving the government under Syngman Rhee, the first president of the Republic of Korea who was a Princeton University graduate.
Overland Park resident John Hanse, 91, didn't serve in the Temporary US military government; he was one of the Navy officers on USS LST 1039 heading for Saipan to rescue thousands of Korean conscripts, forced laborers, and military sex-slaves abandoned by their Japanese masters, like war-debris, and waiting for miracles. Of the perhaps hundreds of thousands, Hanse group brought back about 650 of the Koreans and some Japanese soldiers hiding in their deep caves, still worshiping their Emperor, shouting Banzai (10,000 Years!), not knowing the war had ended---and delivered them to their beloved homeland.
The U.S. military government in Korea ended in 1949 and the American troops evacuated from Korea, and Russians to returned to their country according to Postdam Conference in July 1945. In the South Syngman Rhee, a Princeton University graduate, was elected to lead the newly-born Republic of Korea by the public vote, the first public voting system ever exercised in Korea's history, and in the North, Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-un's grandfather, became the Great Leader of the DPRK Democratic People's Republic of Korea, with the approval of Joseph Stalin.
The next year, on June 25th, 95,000 North Korean troops launched a surprise attack on the South with Russian tanks and Russian made weapons at four AM, alarming the world. With President Truman's declaration of the U.S. support of Korea, American troops from Occupied Japan rushed to Korea on July 5th.
John Hanse wasn't called back to Korea until December 1952, to a seaport town that served as the base for the U.S. Navy and Air Forces. By then the peace talk between the U.S. and Chinese delegates was in progress, Hanse and his military colleagues, including a medical doctor, spent much time at an orphanage founded and operated by a French missionary priest, Father Louis Deslandes, showering the children with human warmth and gifts of food, clothes, and medical attentions.
The war ended with the armistice on September 30th, 1953, after 3 billion American dollars had been spent and 54,000 American lives were lost. On Sept. 30, 1953, two months after the armistice was signed by the American and Chinese leaders, the Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States and the Republic of Korea was established. This was initiated by General Paik Sun-yup, the first general of the Republic of Korea, it was a profound expression of South Korean leaders undying loyalty toward the American government and military, promising them the Korean troops would fight along side American troops in future wars as long as their service would promote global peace, and six decades later the U.S. and South Korea still conduct military drills together, in Korea, every two years, causing the North Korea leader Kim Jong-un's agitation.
The difference between South Korea and North Korea today is as clear as light and darkness. With American's continuous help, South Koreans made speedy progress during the past decades, with their sense of gratitude, but North Koreans slaved under one Kim after another with rigid "One leader, one nation, and one people," policy.
South Korea today gives thanks to all who fought to preserve peace in their country at the cost of their lives.
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