William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

HAN GWO

Billie Shakespeare was quite a guy
his St Crispian poem made me cry
Korea in China is called Han Gwo
scholars down through history show
writers, poets, artists of renown
in ancient Han Gwo culture found
they taught the Japanese their art
ancient Asian history’s gentle heart

Korea Vet News - Independent Internet Publication - June 21, 2005
Dedicated to the sacrifice and indomitable spirit of Canada's Korean War Veterans

A Few Observations about the People of Korea

A letter from Vince Courtenay
Fellow Korean War Veteran

One of our Veterans received a letter from an official at the Museum of Civilization, which has purview over the Canadian War Museum. It says that the VD allegation made in the display in the Korean War exhibits was drawn from “scholarly research” found in a recently published book about the Korean War.

Les Peate, national president of the Korea Veterans Association of Canada sent us this brief extract from the book. The book’s author – a non-Veteran – describes an instance (told to him by somebody else because he was not in Korea and perhaps it is an apocryphal tale that never happened) in which a Korean child was run down and killed by a ROK Army truck driver.

Here is what that author writes (he was not there and takes somebody else’s word for the demeanour of the driver and for the incident): “the callous disregard for a dead child was proof positive of the primitive and brutal nature of Korean culture”.

Now is that “scholarly research?” It sounds as though the author is trying to use the incident that was told to him or that he read about somewhere to substantiate a pre-existing prejudice for the Korean people!

Such an atrocious statement! It is primitive and brutal!

It assuredly is not scholarly!

The trouble with book writers, curators and wannabee soldiers is that they often don’t really know anything about the countries and the people they affect to be authorities on – and they get things wrong, but others read their books and repeat their bad assumptions and opinions – which are not scholarly at all.

Billy Willbond: Han Gwo
My beautiful wife, Mak-ye outside an old but not primitive place, Toksugung Palace in downtown Seoul. Note the tower of the Seoul Plaza Hotel in near distance behind her. My wife is Korean.
Most Korean Veterans could present a litany of good things to say attesting to the brilliance and kindness of the Korean people. Those who have lived in Korea in recent times perhaps might know more of their attributes than those who were there in the war and have not returned since, but the essence is the same.

Here are a few details about the WONDERFUL KOREAN CULTURE!

Korea has a national holiday called “Children’s Day” on which businesses shut down all over the nation and parents and other relatives gather with their children to fete them and express their love and respect!

Every year at “Chusok,” the Korean Thanksgiving that is dated by the lunar calendar, the Korean people go to great extremes to be with their eldest family member, the matriarch or patriarch or both. It may mean a bumper to bumper car ride on crowded roads for eight of more hours each way, for the crush is amazing, but they go and they do it with love! There is no coldness upon their arrival, but great warmth, great festivity.

Similarly, every year on the national Memorial Day holiday, Korean people will make every effort to go to the gravesite of the most senior members of their family. Again, no expense or effort is spared. They go to the grave and they hold a solemn ritual for the departed in the familial home.

Korea is virtually 100 percent literate and has one of the highest concentrations of college graduates in the world. It may in fact have the largest per capita population of citizens with advanced post graduate degrees.

Korea has twice as many medical schools per capita as Canada.

The world’s pre-eminent gastric surgeon practices at Severance Hospital in Seoul where he performs 600 gastroectomies a year – more than 12 of the major, multi-hour intensive surgeries every week (complete removal of stomach and resection of oesophagus with the small intestine). He is understudied by other surgeons from all over the world!

Billy Willbond: Han Gwo
My wife, Mak-ye standing on the 23rd floor level of her women’s athletic club in downtown Seoul. A few feet away from her is a magnificent tiled Olympic pool that looks out on surrounding Seoul, which – am I possibly mistaken? – which doesn’t look very primitive at all!
The world’s leading stem cell researcher is a Korean who is based in Seoul.

The Korean banking system has been fully automated for decades and is far ahead of those functioning in Canada and the United States. It’s virtually 100 percent electronic and personal check writing is a thing of the distant past.

Korea is the seventh largest car producing nation in the world – aiming to be fifth by the end of the decade. It has seven different car manufacturing companies and sells its cars in more than 150 nations. Passenger car production within Korea exceeds 3 million units annually and Korean offshore plants in other nations produce more than 500,000. (Canada produces 1.3 million cars annually).

It is among the four largest ship building nations in the world producing super-tankers and specialized ships for virtually marine applications.

It is a world leader in heavy engineering; the design and construction of oil refineries, dams, bridges, highways, buildings. Korean companies construct oil refineries, offshore drilling platforms, and huge office towers in many other nations.

It is a world leader in electronic communications technology.

It is the world leader in the development of camera phones, now with units on the market that can produce images with 7 pixel level sharpness.

Korea has contributed troops, medical units and assistance teams to every United Nations and principal western allied nations multi-national deployment since the Korean War ended – 55 years of constant service.

Korea had its humanitarian disaster teams at the Tsunami sites within 24 hours.

Koreans are among the most friendly, gregarious people in the world.

Billy Willbond: Han Gwo
Mak-ye and me on the balcony of our not so primitive lodge overlooking the peaks of Sorak Mountain on the northeast coast of Korea. A delightful area replete with many Buddhist Temples, country villages, beautiful, beautiful surrounds, including crystal clear streams, ponds and lakes. We drink from the ponds, which have medicinal properties.
Koreans bow to each other as friends and also bow respectfully to elders and others who have earned distinction through personal merit.

Koreans excel at all sports and Koreans are star players on several major league baseball teams in the United States. Korea has more than 12 major league baseball teams of its own.
During the major league playoffs tens of thousands of fans crowd beneath a great two hundred foot wide television screen outside the National Arts Centre and cheer on their team!
Korean football stars play on many teams throughout the world.

Koreans are wonderful musicians, singers, painters, writers, poets! Their art reaches back through millennia and their present day achievements are heralded by artists and critics throughout the world!

Centuries ago Koreans taught the Japanese the art of fine brush ceramic painting.

A Korean man will not hesitate to go to the aid of a stranger, and especially a foreigner who is a guest in his country, no matter how much danger it puts him in.

Billy Willbond: Han Gwo
Mak-ye and me in a non-primitive fully electronic controlled submarine 10 fathoms beneath the East Sea off Seogwipo on Cheju Island, some 60 miles south of Busan. Friendly strangers took this picture of us. I was the only non-Korean on the submarine. I think I was the only non-Korean on Cheju Island!
Korean women can walk the streets of virtually all Korean cities late at night without fear of molestation – somebody would come to their aid instantly if they called out or danger was imminent or supposed!

Koreans weep when they see an older person or a child in pain, whether they know the person or not.

During family reunification meetings in 2000, when 200 families separated since the Korean War were briefly united, the entire nation was weeping in front of their television sets, watching the reunions!

In a rainstorm on Mount Halla on Cheju Island, hiking a rocky trail well beyond my capacity, I passed a group of young men and women. One of them stopped, tore off his rain cape and draped it over me. He had a three mile hike down the trail in the downpour. I had never seen him before and never since.

When I was hospitalized for surgery at the US Army Hospital in Yongsan Garrison, my Korean wife stayed at my side, sleeping in a chair – for 14 days and nights!

She did the same through four subsequent surgeries at a major hospital in the United States – never leaving my side, always double checking my medications, the tubes attached to me. She spent eight months out of two years helping me through the hospitalizations and tough recuperations!

She has been with me through more than 100 doctor visits in the past three years.

When I asked Mister Chung Mong-koo, the chairman of Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors and Hyundai Mobis and two steel companies and other corporations if he could help me get the Suk-po Elementary School Choir to Canada to sing at dedication ceremonies for the Monument to Canadian Fallen in Ottawa, Mr. Chung immediately ordered his transportation department to take care of it! He flew the 25-person choir group to Ottawa from Busan and back and was glad to do it.

ALT
Children of Suk-po Elementary School Choir from Busan preparing for their two-hour performance during the dedication and Consecration of the Monument to Canadian Fallen in Ottawa, September, 2003. Likely in another 10 years the young ladies will be doctors – or whatever other profession they feel suits them. Prime Minister Chretien spent several minutes talking with them and even tried to play one of their 12-string kayugum zythers.
Mister Chung, by the way, is one of the busiest industrialists in the world who heads up 10 major corporations – leading all of them with considerable success!

Just a few things about Korean people that perhaps the authors of supposedly “scholarly researched” books and museum people who use the books as the basis for their work should consider.

When Canadian Korean War Veterans and some of their ROK Korean Veteran comrades break bread with the Republic of Korea’s Ambassador to Canada a few days from now – on June 26 – we know they will give and receive deep friendship and respect and experience comradely warmth.

They know who they are and they know where they have been and they do not idle away their time saying reprehensible things about a great people or casting aspersions upon their own country’s Veterans.

They fought in Korea and to those who didn’t but think they can ever record with authenticity what they did, experienced, felt in their hearts, or who think they can possibly make accurate comment on the nature of the wonderful Korean people and their five thousand year culture without having been among them to experience it, our message is:

“Hang yourself; we fought in Chosun and you were not there!”

SAINT CRISPIAN'S DAY SPEECH

Before the Battle of Agincourt,:25 October 1415
Shakespeare:Henry V, Act 4, Scene 3

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.

No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.

This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day.

Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered.

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
Make him a member of the gentry, even if he is a commoner.

And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.