Books reawaken memories of war
It was the steamy summer of 1950 and he had just turned six. But it was also the year the Korean War began and Park Do, now 62 and a novelist, says he still remembers that tragic summer, though he tries his best to forget it.
In 2005, he faced his memories again when he went to the National Archives and Records Administration in the United States and flipped through surprisingly well-preserved photos from that summer, filed under the name, “Korean War.” Tens of thousands of photos, presumably taken by war correspondents or U.S. soldiers, captured the chaos of Korea at the time.
But rather than just weep over the images, Mr. Park did something unlikely to make the memories go away: He made them into a book, to be published on June 25, the anniversary of the start of the Korean War.
In the photos, abandoned children in rags wailed in the streets, people dragged cows as they fled their homes and those who couldn’t get on a train heading south ran frantically after the departing car carrying as much as they could on their heads and backs.
Photos of a North Korean soldier perhaps as young as 15 being tortured, corpses strewn on the ground and mass executions by firing squads brought back horrifying memories of his childhood once again.
“But suddenly, I felt I had to share these photos with others, particularly those who don’t know about the Korean War,” Mr. Park wrote in the photography book.
Dubbed, “100 Scenes from the Korean War that Made Me Cry,” it features 100 realistic images from the American archives. Also in the book, Mr. Park and four other novelists who grew up experiencing the Korean War included personal essays on what they remember of the war.
Commemorating the lives of over 5 million people who died in the conflict, “The Indelible Image 2,” also compiled by Mr. Park with 230 more photos from the war archives, is now in stores. The following are photos selected from the two books by the JoongAng Daily, courtesy of Noonbit publishing company.
by Lee Min-a