First trip back to Korea, 1998

In the fall of 1998 Mary Ann and I decided to participate in the 40th anniversary activities of the Bellingham-Tateyama, Japan, Sister City relationship and join the Bellingham delegation going to Japan. Since our Asiana Airlines flight stopped in Seoul, Korea, each way I decided it was time to revisit Korea, the first time since the war.

As the plane got closer to Korea I got more emotional. When we flew over Japan and approached the Korean peninsula I began to cry. I could not hold it back. All those suppressed memoriies of the time spent in Korea during the war and the three months after the armistice came to the surface. By the time we landed I was more or less OK and was able to go with the rest of the Tatemyam-Bellingham delegation on the bus that took us into downtown Seoul to the hotel where we would spend the night.

Of course I was absolutely astonished at what I saw. The Seoul that I knew, the bombed, destroyed, devastated rubble of a city was now replaced with a modern city with high rise buildings, eight and ten lane freeways, bridge after bridge over the Han river. All of this was beyond my ken. It was quite difficult to adjust my sense of reality with what I remembered.