[FOUNTAIN]Will Chough legacy persist in Daegu?Daegu, in North Gyeongsang province, saved the country in the Korean War. The People’s Army swept down from the north to Daegu, where it encountered strong resistance. United Nations forces held the military command in South Korea at the time, but the founding fathers inspired the UN Command to defend the country. Among them was Interior Minister Chough Byeong-ok.
On Sept. 10, 1950, when the morale of the North Korean Army was at its height, the two Koreas clashed at Yeongcheon, the gateway to Daegu, engaging in a fierce battle. General Walton Walker, the commander of the U.S. 8th Army, felt the war was not going in the South’s favor, and ordered the defense and interior ministries to evacuate Daegu and move to Busan. But Mr. Chough went to see General Walker to personally dissuade him.
He said a retreat to Busan would cause Daegu to fall quickly. If Daegu fell, Busan could not hold out much longer. Noting Mr. Chough’s will to protect the nation, General Walker reconsidered.
The next morning Mr. Chough visited General Lee Yeong-il, commander of the 8th division, at Yeongcheon. The battle was a seesaw fight, but after Mr. Chough encouraged the soldiers, they beat the North Korean Army that day. As soon as the defense line in Daegu was solid, General MacArther landed at Incheon and turned the tables in the South’s favor. Mr. Chough remembers the five days between his meeting with General Walker and the landing as a miracle that changed the country’s fate. Koreans say, “Mr. Chough defended Daegu, and Daegu saved the nation.”
After stepping down as minister, Mr. Chough collided with President Syngman Rhee. He was attacked by politically inspired gangs and even imprisoned. Disappointed by the political feud after liberation, he considered leaving politics altogether. But Daegu played a crucial role again. For the Assembly election in 1954, he was asked to run in a district in Daegu. Winning 75 percent of the vote, Mr. Chough became a formidable opposition leader in the 1950s.
Half a century later, Chough Soon-hyung, Mr. Chough’s son and the leader of the Millennium Democratic Party, decided to move his constituency from Seoul to Daegu. It is up to Daegu to decide whether the younger Chough can continue the legacy.
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.