Dr. Young-Key Kim-Renaud

'I Remember' - Poem Delivered at the 60th Anniversary Celebration of the Korean War Armistice

delivered 27 July 2013, Washington, D.C.

Audio AR-XE mp3 of Address

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[as prepared for delivery]

It was a languid summer day in Seoul

When the crepe myrtles were in bloom,

Everyone was busy preparing for Father’s birthday,

Children frolicked in festive mood,

And Hobaegi, our dog, was jumping in contagious excitement.

The only things that concerned me were those elusive “100 points”

And taking care of my baby brother for brownie points,

Which meant special prizes from Mother, children’s books and comic

books she handwrote.

 

But no one came to Father’s birthday.

The War broke out the day before Father’s birthday, 

Shattering our world, our peace.

No children showed him respect with deep bows.

No words of wisdom or blessings

Flowed from his own father's or any guest’s mouths.

 

Mother said it always rained on Father’s birthday,

And it was a good thing, for the Dragon loves water.

But it was not a good rain.

The muddy river dike swallowed my rubber shoes,

And wanted to take my feet, too,

As I tried to plod beside this or that sibling riding up on an adult’s back.

 

The Han River Bridge fell before our eyes.

Father, a solid athlete and expert swimmer,

Refused to cross the river, because he couldn’t leave us behind.

The three months of hell started from that moment.

Mother’s ruptured appendicitis turned into grave peritonitis,

And we children lost our innocence.

I, although only nine, was the eldest of all and

Represented our household in townhall meetings,

Where I observed the People’s Court and even executions.

 

We learned what it meant to be hungry.

But worse than hunger were three kinds of sounds:

Ringing of the doorbell in the wee hours of the night

Meant they came looking for Father --

For a banker was “bad by nature” and deserved to be shot on the spot.

The baby couldn’t talk, but the four little kids

Knew that one mention of “Father”

Would have made all of us half-orphans.

 

The airplanes flying low meant someone could die,

As one of them killed our elder uncle and two dear cousins.

The missiles' whine made us tremble under the coverlet,

Sounding like a deranged policeman’s whistle leading everyone to hell.

 

And then, all that suddenly stopped, just as suddenly as it started.

We were on the street greeting you, alien soldiers on foot.

You were all dirty and hairy, of all colors -- yellow, red, brown, and black.

I saw all the adults were genuinely happy to see you,

Shook your hands and handed over the Korean and American flags.

Some embraced you as long-lost brothers,

And children began prancing with joy again.

 

I remember thinking, “Are these creatures who pulled us out of darkness

Holy ghosts or the monkey-king Sūn Wůkōng (孫悟空)’s doubles?”

The magic gave us the miracle of the Han River.

Look where we are, and, where they are.

It is not a Forgotten War, but the magic lives on and on.


See also: Dr. Kim-Renaud's Bio/CV Data

Also in this database: Barack Obama's Address at the Korean War Armistice Signing 60th Anniversary, and, Gen. Jeong Seung-jo's Address at the Korean War Armistice Signing 60th Anniversary

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Page Created: 4/4/18

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