* In the March 2022 issue of Compassion, we began publishing excerpts from the English version of An Arduous Journey to Peace - A Memoir (working title) written by Han. S. Park and scheduled to be published by the end of the year.Professor Park taught peace to thousands of young people for 45 years, mainly at the University of Georgia Department of International Relations and the Institute for International Affairs (GLOBIS), and has worked in various fields to see such peace realized. Professor Park's memoir, An Arduous Journey to Peace, provides a look back on Korea’s modern history, from the Japanese colonial period to the present time in 2022.Additionally, this book examines the long unresolved conflict on the Korean Peninsula and with the United States, explores basic political concepts, such as human rights, democracy, and socialism, and evaluates the United States, South Korea, and North Korea on that basis. The memoir provides important historical perspectives and an in-depth examination of current issues. * In this article, 'North Korea' is denoted as 'Joseon'. August 15, 1945! The news of the liberation was spreading fast in Harbin, China. Many Joseon people living in Manchuria began to return home. Our family of eight also started home. We traveled south from Harbin and crossed the Tumen River on a Chinese merchant ferry. Then we boarded a train headed to Pyongyang. The train was jam-packed, with people even riding on the roof. When the train entered a tunnel, however, we could hear screaming from the roof. Coming out of the tunnel, there was silence, as it seemed everyone on the roof of the train had disappeared. When we reached Pyongyang, my parents got an “enemy’s house(敵産家屋)” that the Japanese had left behind. What a plight it would have been for a family of eight, including my grandmother, to live in a refugee camp in Pyongyang. People living in the refugee camps shared small food rations between them. However, our family who we chose to stay in an "enemy’s house,” had to find ways to get food for ourselves. My mother went out daily to find work as a day laborer. My father was the first one to leave Pyongyang. He headed to Daegu, back in Gyeongsang province, looking for a place for us all to live. My brother and I went to the Pyongyang Racecourse every day to buy pureed soybean, which they used as horse feed. I went there so often that one day, one of the staff asked me how many horses I had. Not wanting to reveal the details about our family’s desperate situation, I responded, “A couple of them.” Our family lived on pureed soybean porridge for over a year. I didn’t know what rice tasted like. My brother and I also collected firewood from the stakes at the racetrack. We dug them up with a shovel, dried them, and used what parts hadn’t rotted to build our fires. In 1946, when I was seven years old, I returned to school, re-entering the first grade at Pyongyang Elementary School. They taught me many songs at school. All of them were songs that praised Kim Il-sung. I used to walk the streets of Pyongyang humming “the Song of General Kim Il-sung” that began with “the bloody traces of the stems of Mt. Changbai.” It wasn’t just me; all the kids my age were humming the same song. By 1946, his opponents had fled to China, and Kim Il-sung had already established his absolute status. Joseon stood in stark contrast to Korea at the time, which was an absolute feeding frenzy of various political leaders. Before the establishment of Joseon government in 1948, citizens marched in an attempt to appoint Kim Il-sung as the leader © the hankyoreh In 1945, the United States and the Soviet Union demarcated the 38th parallel to jointly receive Japan’s surrender. I heard this firsthand story from Dean Rusk, who worked on the demarcation of the 38th parallel from the American side. At that time, the Soviet Union had little ambition for the Korean Peninsula and took a passive attitude toward trusteeship of Joseon, unlike the United States. Rusk said that the Soviet Union would have accepted any military demarcation line (MDL), even if the US had connected the line from Wonsan to Pyongyang, instead of across the 38th parallel. Rusk also told me he understood the demarcation of the 38th parallel as a provisional measure. Even he never expected it to last this long. It seemed clear from the outset that the United States had a strong strategic interest in the Korean Peninsula, which may have been the reason why the US implemented a thorough trusteeship in Korea, unlike the Soviet Union. To prevent the division of the Korean Peninsula, Kim Il-sung’s first action was to block the general election to be held in the south on May 10, 1948. So that year, from April 19th to 24th, a special meeting, the so-called “Ssuk Island Council(South-North Meeting),” was held on Ssuk Island in the middle of the Daedong River in Pyongyang. Kim Gu and Kim Kyu-sik from the south attended, although Rhee Syng-man did not. Kim Il-sung expected that the two representatives from Korea would be able to block the May 10th election, but they said that they could not. Kim Il-sung also failed to grasp the details of Rhee Syng-man’s secret connection with the United States. Eventually, the Ssuk Island Council broke down and the Korean Peninsula was divided. The 38° line of the Korean Peninsula drawn by "col. Dean Rusk" and "col. Charles Bonsteel" on the wall map of National Geographic on August 11, 1945. © the hankyoreh My family crossed the 38th parallel in the lush summer of 1948. We chose the summer so we could easily hide in the green overgrowth while the Americans were on guard. After meticulously calculating the time it took for troops to patrol back and forth, we decided to make our crossing. As soon as the sentry disappeared from our sight, we ran for all we were worth, even my grandmother, who had difficulty moving around.Fortunately, we all crossed the 38th parallel in one piece and managed to reach a refugee camp in Kaesong. (Kaesong is located south of the 38th parallel. Only later, when the Korean War armistice was signed, did the MDL get moved south of the 38th parallel, making Kaesong part of the North.) We stayed in the refugee camp in Kaesong for a couple of months. The sanitary conditions there were unspeakably bad, and I contracted smallpox. I remember how itchy my body was, but I was forbidden from even touching it because scratching would give me “pockmarks.” On rainy days, I took off my clothes and stood with my head facing the dreary sky. The raindrops somewhat relieved the itching, but I still have a pockmark on my nose. Refugees returning after liberation © the hankyoreh Eventually, we all made it to Daegu and settled in Daemyeong district. My father had managed to rent a one-room house there, for our family of eight. In 1948, I began school at Namsan Elementary, redoing the first grade yet again. I was nine years old. After school, I would go to the street to sell apples and roasted chestnuts. In the midst of our hardship, our grandmother became ill with dementia. To have more space to care for Grandmother, we moved to Suchang neighborhood. Our new home had two rooms. I wanted to transfer to a school in our new neighborhood, because it was such a long commute from Suchang to Daemyeong. But “for the honor” of Namsan Elementary school, because teachers said I was such an “intelligent and good student,” they wouldn’t let me go. So, I bought a used adult-sized bicycle to make the long trip faster. The bike was so big for me that I had to put one arm over the seat, only one hand on the handlebars, and pedal with just one foot on the side, while carrying my backpack on the back of the bike. I was a weak boy, and it was such a strenuous job to make that long ride on an adult bicycle, so I was often tardy. When I was in the 5th grade, there was a hoodlumish kid in my class who was older than the rest of the kids. He coerced his friends to open the lids of their lunch boxes every lunch break and took away all the delicious side dish. There was a time when he picked up a boiled egg in my lunch box. In winter, when we put our lunch box on the stove to keep it warm, he would put his own lunch box at the bottom. I hated him so much, but I didn’t dare fight him head-on because I knew I was too weak. No one in my class dared to cross him. So, I put my brain to work. For a few days, I followed him after school to learn his routine. I discovered the place along the way where his friends turned off, and he continued alone. One day I hid near that place with a baseball bat in hand. The moment he walked past me, I ambushed him, striking the back of his head with the bat. He stumbled and fell with a thud. I ran home as fast as my legs would carry me, not once looking back. I stared at the ceiling all night, unable to sleep, wondering what I would do if he had died. When I went to school the next day, he was there. He was actually laughing, telling his friends about getting hit in the head the day before. I couldn’t have been more relieved to see him in the classroom like that. From that day forward, I treated him nicely. I often gave him my boiled eggs. I even gave him the prized camera I treasured. The strong guy began protecting me, the weakling of the class. We ended up becoming close friends, but in the back of my mind, I always regretted what I had done to him. Years passed. As a senior in high school, I confessed to him that I was the one who had struck him in the back of the head. He didn’t believe me. He looked me in the face and insisted that there was no way it could have been me. He was grinning in his insistence, so I just laughed. That’s how “the case of the baseball bat ambush” ended. When I look back on my elementary school years, the most unforgettable element of all was, of course, the Korean War. The war erupted when I was in the third grade. Because I had been so terrified by the violence of the Chinese Civil War in Manchuria, returning home after Liberation meant finding a safe haven, free from war. But what awaited us in my hometown was more violence. The definitive element of the Korean War was the bombing sprees of US fighter planes. US bombs indiscriminately killed everything in sight. These weapons were on a whole different dimension from the primitive weapons used in the Chinese Civil War. I remember cows startled by the bombs, how they ran around on the roadside; people fleeing the bombardments of fighter jets, wretchedly falling to the ground; corpses strewn about here and there; families holding each other, wailing over the dead bodies of their loved ones. As a child I could not escape these images reflected in my vision over and over. That led me to decide, “I will devote myself to preventing war as long as I live.” I do not expect to ever recover from this longing for peace that has afflicted me since childhood. The number of American casualties in the Korean War was relatively small, because the US military focused on an air force strategy. However, the Korean War was the first war in American history that America couldn’t win. The US wanted to cover up that fact. So, they didn’t even call it a war, instead, calling it the “Korean Conflict.” Only after their defeat in Vietnam did the United States officially begin to use the term “Korean War.” What can we possibly learn from the war? So far, researchers have mainly studied the origin or cause of its outbreak. They usually visit the Library of Congress, or some other treasure trove of historical documents, and make lots of photocopies. Then, they read, interpret the material, and publish something on their Korean War studies, usually about as thick as a wooden pillow. The width of a book is generally regarded as a criterion for evaluating the writer’s academic achievement. So, in many cases, thick books replete with references end up receiving academic awards. Although I have read countless such books, I have yet to discover the true origin or cause of the Korean War. In order to determine a cause, it is necessary to “explain” the outbreak according to the social sciences’ strict principles of causation. The countless Korean War research papers that I have come across offer nothing more than a “description” of the outbreak of the Korean War by combining vast amounts of historical material in one way or another. One cannot determine the cause through description. If different researchers use the same data, they may interpret it in another way, drawing different conclusions. William Dray, a historical philosopher, once reflected that despite over a hundred years of tremendous effort to determine the cause of the American Civil War, the debate has not ended. Similarly, people still debate the cause of the Cold War. These debates continue due to researchers crude research methods. Nevertheless, they impute the crudely identified “cause” of the Korean War to Joseon and condemn Joseon. Or, they impute it to Korea and condemn Korea. Or, they impute it to the Soviet Union or the United States and condemn the respective nation, becoming a source of endlessly induced hatred and hostility on the Korean Peninsula. What we really need to learn from the Korean War is the fact that we have yet to break free from the fetters that the war inflicted on us. The Division that was passed on from the Korean War; the extreme hostility between the two Koreas; the increasing polarization within the South, so often blamed on Joseon; the as-yet-unatoned-for genocide of civilians during the Korean War; the unresolved separation of families; the persistent problem of being guilty by association with anyone branded a “commie” - these have all left our collective consciousness and soul inadvertently brainwashed into a “culture of division.” Our academic agility will have to be devoted to the work of facing up to, analyzing, and dismantling these problems."