Honor, Delayed

a-father-remembers-his-son-a-sailor-killed-by-the-north-koreans-on-june-29-2002.gifPresident-Elect Lee Myung Bak will finally  honor six South Korean sailors killed in a North Korean attack on their patrol boat on  June 29, 2002.  The sailors’ surviving family members were embittered, believing that their government and outgoing  President Roh Moo Hyun had  snubbed  them to appease Kim Jong Il.  One young widow  even left South Korea for good:

Kim Jong-seon, the widow of Petty Officer Han Sang-guk […]  turned her back on her homeland Sunday and boarded a flight bound for the United States. Before getting on her flight, she said, “If the indifference and inhospitality shown to those soldiers who were killed or wounded protecting the nation continue, what soldier will lay down his life in the battlefield?”    [Chosun Ilbo]

North Korean warships crossed the Koreas’ disputed naval boundary and  sank the Chamsuri 457 just one day before the closing ceremony for its successful co-hosting of the World Cup.   The attack killed six South Korean sailors and  wounded 18 others. 

Like the bombing of a South Korean airliner Kim Jong Il personally ordered  just before the 1988  Seoul Olympics, it was almost certainly premeditated.  Both incidents were designed not just to kill South Korean citizens, but to terrorize the  world away from South Korea.  (This, of course, is the nation our Secretary of State wants to drop from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.)   One survivor describes his pain:

“One night I remembered the faces of my six dead comrades, but I couldn’t recall the name of one of them, so I sobbed all night.”  [Chosun Ilbo]

If Lee keeps his promise, it will come after six years of needless anguish for the survivors and bereaved family members of the Chamsuri 457 crew, but  better that this honor should be delayed than denied.

[Photo:  Chosun Ilbo]

2 Comments

  1. Lee’s decision is great news and it would be even better if the widow was able to come back to Korea to attend the memorial with Lee.

    Something else I was thinking about reading this is that Chamsuri 457 would make a great title for a South Korean movie about the murder of these sailors and the ROK government ineptitude afterwards.




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  2. It is also a credit to USFK leadership that it sent letters to the families honoring the memory and service of the Koreans both after the accident happened on the anniversaries of the attack. (I know they did the first anniversary, and I think they did the second as well, but I don’t know for sure on that or later occasions).




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