Comments: 53 • Responses: 24  • Date: 

omg0025823 karma

What was the interesting encounter with the North Korea solider?

Kryptonthenoblegas56 karma

My memory is a bit murky but when the north koreans first came south her family decided to stay in their village (They believed that it was no use, because they reckoned that the 인민군-people's army would be pushed back north again). But a lot of the people did flee south, so the village kinda looked like a ghost town (many villages along the border really did become ghost towns)- most of the younger children were at school, and all the teens had either fled south to avoid conscription by the North, or were in the fields/boats working, so it was only my grandma, and a couple of other middle school children who didn't have school that day. So my grandmother apparently was just in her house by herself when she heard a group of North Korean soldiers nearby (apparently they were looking for food or smth). As a 14 year old girl, she panicked a bit (She had heard of horrid things that the people's army had done- some of which were probably just false rumors) so she ran around looking for a hiding place. When the soldiers opened her house gate, she made a split-second decision to hop in with the pigs from a nearby pen and hide in the hay with them. After rummaging around her family home for food, one of the soldiers said, 'Look they're's a pig pen!' and they started approaching the pen- probably intending to get some meat. Afraid that she would be caught- she crouched behind the pigs in the dirt and tried to conceal herself. When one of the soldiers went inside to bring out the pigs, he saw my grandmother, her face full of tears, snot and mud and stumbled back, calling out, '귀신이다!- it's a ghost!'. They eventually backed out and ran away, leaving the pigs and my grandmother in the mud. Apparently she got scolded by her mother who came back from the mudflats for getting her clothes dirty afterwards lmao- they evacuated the next time the North started coming south.

jaloeziejaps18 karma

The war started between North vs South. How was the intervention of UN and China viewed?

Kryptonthenoblegas27 karma

Generally, a lot of people (including people in my family) are resentful for the fact that China came in and 'destroyed things'. My older relatives are mostly thankful for the UN, because they 'saved the country' and helped the south. I've heard that North Koreans (kinda rightfully) hate the US for pretty much flattening their infrastructure during the korean war. Obviously since my family are all from the south, my perspective is likely biased. When my grandparents lived under temporary North rule apparently they were forced to attend rallies which talked about how 'treacherous' the south was and it was full of 친일파s (japanese collaborators) and that they were being 'liberated'. Some people did get dragged off and killed (no one in my immediate circle of relatives though) so a lot of people complained and were resentful behind closed doors.

vitalvisionary3 karma

Wow, your background is so similar to mine. I interviewed my grandparents for my high school graduation project almost 20 years ago. My 할머니 lost her home and saw some her family killed by communist soldiers/sympathizers. My 할아버지 was trained by UN/US forces on Jeju but never saw action as some government official was bribed by his family to keep him away from the frontlines.

To add a little to your answer, while many Koreans fled south from North Korea, some also went north. There was a fear that US forces would bring Japanese troops back to Korea and return the country to a colonial-like period.

Kryptonthenoblegas3 karma

Yes my grandmother did say that some men in and around her region did flee with the north- some to avoid persecution by the south and others because they were genuinely supportive of communism. Some of their families and some other people were killed/persecuted when the south came back north unfortunately- which made everyone else extra zealous and supportive of the south so they wouldn't be killed next haha... I haven't heard of the colonial-like period thing but I know that many rumours and gossip was being spread among the villagers, some from the north korean soldiers, others from refugees coming back up or from down south, and other rumours from the South korean soldiers. Also that's really cool! Hopefully my school does a similar project soon- before my grandmother passes away.

V-83816 karma

Your Great Grandmother stayed in the house while the Family fled? She must have been quite a character to face that alone.

Kryptonthenoblegas16 karma

Yes she was... my grandfather went around and whenever he met someone from his hometown he always asked if they had seen him mother. He apparently even went Yeonpyeongdo (which is like near the border of present north korea) to find her. Since his hometown was in the south at the time, most people reckoned that they would be able to return in a few months, staying in areas like Paju and Incheon, near Kaeseong, so that they could make a quick return (A few high schools in Incheon- most notably 송도고등학교, were originally from my grandfather's hometown, during the war the teachers and much of the student body fled to Incheon to continue their studies in the South- they intended to go back after the war but obviously they didn't). Because of that, a lot of families left behind a family member (typically a mother, since fathers could get drafted) to watch the home and keep it from being looted I guess. Unfortunately since Kaeseong was ceded to the north a lot of families got stranded in this way.

V-8385 karma

Such tragic times for so many families. Heartbreaking to think of all the fruitless searches for Family members after the war. You should write a book.

Kryptonthenoblegas2 karma

It really is... I heard that my great-grandfather or grandfather (one of them can't remember) wanted to go back to get her but I heard they decided it was too risky- my grandfather was the only son in a pretty rare family so they couldn't afford to have him killed, if my great-grandfather died than my grandfather and his siblings would basically become orphaned but that's just my theory as to why they didn't go- I don't know the actual reason.

Lmao I don't have enough information or willpower unfortunately... I would like to write a short story in dedication to my grandparents sometime though and would like to record my grandmother's experiences on video before she passes away.

themanyfaceasian10 karma

My paternal grandmother’s older brother was kidnapped by the north, and my maternal grandmother’s younger brother was killed in a bomb. Did your grandparents have ample time to evacuate? Or did they just pack whatever they can and flee?

Kryptonthenoblegas12 karma

My condolences to your family... one or two of my great-grandmother's sister's children got sick and passed away during the war from what I have been told...

They didn't really have ample time to evacuate- because of how rapid the retreat was and how the Chinese attack was a surprise. My grandmother's village was a bit more south in comparison to my grandparents, and just below the Han River, so apparently they had a bit more time to evacuate. My grandfather, though, had to do it in a rush and they fled quickly. Both of them though that they would return quickly so neither of them bought much stuck- so they just brought some bundles of clothes and a few important things (Like our 족보- family genealogical book)

themanyfaceasian3 karma

Interesting! Do you mind me asking where your grandmother is from? It sounds like Seoul if she was just below Han river.

Kryptonthenoblegas4 karma

Sorry I mixed up the river names... I meant the Imjin River, not the Han River.

She is from an area which used to be in Gimpo but was absorbed into Incheon in the 1990s. The area is now being redeveloped into a 'New Town' but her home village is outside of the redeveloping area so it still exists. If it hasn't been demolished by then, I would like to drop by and visit as an adult.

themanyfaceasian3 karma

Ooh I see. I think it may be Bucheon or Gwangmyeong or something else around that area. I’m also asking my parents about that period because unfortunately my grandparents can’t answer my questions. My grandparents are from Gangneung 강릉 and were fairly close to North Korea like your grandparents, and one of my mom’s aunts defected to the North bc she believed in communism and separated with her family that way.

Kryptonthenoblegas3 karma

Yea... apparently a couple of men from and around her region defected and fled with the northern soldiers up north when the South came back. Some of their relatives were persecuted for being communist 'by association'(?).

HudecLaca8 karma

Did they tell you what they ate to survive? What was it? Do they hate that food now, or is it more nostalgic?

What are your fave survival tactics they taught you?

(My grandparents were born during WWI, were adults between/on frontlines of WWII, and I treasure all the survival tactics they gave me, but I'm always curious about more.)

Kryptonthenoblegas12 karma

My grandfather apparently very rarely talked about the war- most of what we know comes from my aunts. This was probably because they really had to start with nothing, living in run-down refugee camps with little supplies. I can't confirm this 100%, but apparently my grandfather once even resorted to hunting snakes for food.

My grandmother, meanwhile, is a bit more nostalgic. I know... it does sound a bit funny but for much of the war she lived on an island where neither the north or south soldiers really bothered going to, so she lived in relative seclusion and even got to finish middle school during the war (She never got to high school though- the island didn't have one).

I unfortunately don't have any survival tactics... but I guess if enemy army members are looting my house I'll hide in the bushes in my backyard and wail so that they think I'm a ghost and run away lol (I don't think it will work because I'm a teenage boy with a pretty a bad acne problem but... I guess it's worth trying?)

sevenspell5 karma


Kryptonthenoblegas9 karma

Grandmother- It was probably when she had to hide in a pig den when north korean soldiers tried looting the house of food (I explain it in further depth in a comment above, if you want more information).

I (unfortunately) never personally knew my grandfather, but I was told by a great aunt that he really desperately had searched for his mother after the war. During and right after the war- he went around doing some odd jobs apparently and whenever he met someone from the same region as him he would ask them about whether they knew if his mother passed south. Unfortunately any evidence he heard was a false lead- but he allegedly traveled to many refugee camps, even the ones on the really remote islands that took a day to get to, just to find information regarding his mother. When I look back, he must have been pretty lost- having lost contact with everyone and everything he had known and being forced to start anew. Parents also play a really big part in Korean culture, so losing his mother would have been a really horrible thing to both him and his sisters.

voicedm5 karma

how did your grandparents lifestyle/living conditions change once they sought out refuge? was south korea kind towards all the refugees coming in?

Kryptonthenoblegas5 karma

Pretty drastically.

My grandfather was a city man and my grandmother, although form the countryside, lived in a 기와집 (a tiled roof house- families that lived in those were generally more well off) so suddenly having to move to wooden-dirt huts with no heating and a lack of proper food was a shock for both of them. My grandmother fared a bit better though, and she said that the islanders were always generous to the refugees like her, and that the two groups often intermingled, worked and shared food together.

Kryptonthenoblegas2 karma

Sorry I forgot to answer the other part of your question...

Well unlike my grandmother, whos family and other refugees were welcomed by the islanders, my grandfather did not receive any generosity- because most of the people around him were refugees as well. Incheon at the time was filled with refugees from Kaeseong and Hwanghae province, and since the actual locals had just started returning home after the evacuations, they were a very large group in the city. I heard that the locals from the areas the south annexed from North (so like the areas in the South above the 38th parallel) did receive a bit of discrimination in the immediate aftermath of the war but it was no where near the discrimination people faced in my grandmother's hometown up north (many people were sent up to the very north in Hamgyeongdo to be 'reeducated'- so many Kaeseong locals were not allowed to return till the late 50s-early 60s allegedly- I suppose its the same for Hwanghae areas annexed by the north).

Redactor03 karma

Do you have any insight into the "386 generation" of the 1990s and why they decided that the North Koreans had really gotten a bad rap and weren't so bad?

Kryptonthenoblegas3 karma

Yes I do! My eldest aunt is in fact a part of this generation. From my understanding though- the 386 generation was more importantly the one that brought the authoritarian dictatorship down- though this can be extremely controversial depending on who you talk to. I'm not sure about whether the 386 generation believed that the North was not as bad but my aunt attended a lot of the protests at the time and she doesn't think that the North is a good place- but 386 people like her seem to be more happy to collaborate/work more with the north.

eatyourdamndinner3 karma

Do your grandparents still live here in South Korea? Have you ever been here?

I am always amazed at how quickly Korea grew after the war; in just a few decades, the expansion, infrastructure and modernization just exploded.

I've lived here for 13 years and I have to say that the Koreans I've come to know are seriously the most amazing and kind people I've ever met. I have nothing but respect for the people and the culture.

Kryptonthenoblegas6 karma

My grandfather passed a long time ago, but my grandmother continues to live there. I go to Korea every year to see relatives (except last year- due to the pandemic). I always enjoy going, though I personally don't think I could survive living their due to how competitive it is...

Korea really has changed a lot... Once during the early 2000s my grandmother visited her hometown after a long time and when she came back she apparently was pretty upset- The thriving, green fishing village that she had grown up in was then only a shell of what it is now; a small, sort of struggling neighborhood wedged between an industrial complex, highway and an apartment complex. Back then it was all just farmland and ocean, with an odd village by some neighboring hill.

eatyourdamndinner4 karma

Korea does seem to manage to build a highrise on every square inch of space, that's true.

But I also like how any where there is a few feet of undeveloped land, people living nearby will instantly create a garden. Makes me happy.

Kryptonthenoblegas1 karma

Yea I've noticed that too! It's pretty cool.

legpain4life2 karma

u/Kryptonthenoblegas In watching YouTube (I am fascinated with the Korean pinnensula and North Korea) I've heard a lot about families in Korea getting separated - some of the family in the North at end of war or some in South. How did that happen?

Kryptonthenoblegas2 karma

It differs from family- many males fled south to avoid military conscription (some ended up being conscripted by the south anyways rip), some christian families left non-christian relatives behind and lost them. In my grandfather's case, which I believe was the same for many other families in former southern regions that were ceded north- left family members to watch over housing, land, so that they could reclaim them after the war. There are many different reasons, and they can depend on the circumstance.

Shalla_if_ya_hear_me2 karma

My grandfather was a paratrooper in the 101st airborne in the Korean war. He jumped multiple times. At one point, he was stabbed from front to back with a bayonet, on his lower right stomach.

He would talk about the war pretty casually, which most veterans I meet will not. One thing that always stuck out to me as a kid, is that he said he wished he could have only ever visited on vacation, and that he respected and liked Koreans. As a kid, that perspective really helped shape my world view.

My family generally accepts that USA has been a war mongering machine since after WWII, as it concerns international affairs. It’s nothing to be proud of.

How do you all feel about Americans, as it pertains to the war? Did we do anything correct in your eyes?

Kryptonthenoblegas1 karma

Generally, most Koreans are thankful for the US for helping us at such a dire time- but there is a nit of controversies about the stuff some soldiers did during the war (see the Nogunri massacre)- however since koreans themselves played a part in some more violent massacres (Bodo League massacre, etc etc)- there's more hate against Rhee Seungman (then president of korea) than against the US. My grandmother said that everyone was generally thankful and welcoming to the soldiers, and they gave sweets to the kids. They also, however, flirted with the local women sometimes and were a bit rowdy and disrespectful, so a lot of people didn't like that. All in all though, koreans thank the US for helping us.

Shalla_if_ya_hear_me2 karma

Thanks for the reply!

How long after the war were your grandparents lives affected? Did the war have an impact on your parents lives?

Kryptonthenoblegas1 karma

My grandmother wasn't really affected by the war (apart from that one experience)- and is comfortable with talking about it- ultimately for her it was more like a long holiday.

My grandfather on the other hand, was affected by it for quite a while- he never talked about it that much (my mum didn't have a close relationship with him- classic stone-cold asian father I guess, so that also might be why), and couldn't watch a lot of the family reunion programs in the early 80s- I suppose he was afraid that it would make him miss his mother and hometown. He ended up having health issues due to extreme stress and sometimes my relatives reckon that it could have been the result of piled up stress from since the war.

Shalla_if_ya_hear_me1 karma

I am very sorry about your grandfather. I think stories like this is why my grandfather/family feel like even though USA was there to help, war is always bad, and it always brings pain.

Did your grandfather return to the home and his mother was gone? Or was the home/town destroyed?

Kryptonthenoblegas2 karma

He was never able to return home unfortunately... since it was ceded to the north after the war. Our family just assumes that she continued to live and die there alone.

Actually- since both sides believed that they would take the city, Kaeseong (his hometown) avoided the bombing that the rest of the country experienced- so it preserved most of it's traditional architecture, neighborhoods and surrounding villages- it may be likely that my grandfather's house is still standing there. It's now a UNESCO site btw.

Shalla_if_ya_hear_me2 karma

Ah sorry you covered that! So, are you saying it’s possible that your great grandmother lived a full life, but just stayed in the north?

Kryptonthenoblegas1 karma

No it's no problem! I'm happy to answer!

It is pretty likely that my great grandmother lived a full life but in the north, but since her family had fled south, and since she was a (middle-aged) women on her own, it's likely that she was discriminated against by the North Korean authorities for being 'south-aligned'. A lot of other women seemed to have been left behind so I'm sure they formed groups to support each other and stuff.

DoctorStrangeMD2 karma

Curious, have you seen videos about Korean War children who were separated and then reunited?

If you want to ugly cry, watch these videos about families being reunited decades after the war.


Kryptonthenoblegas2 karma

I have seen those videos... one of my mum's friend's fathers found their family and the entire family changed their surname to the original one.

Unfortunately, my grandfather never signed up, his mother would have been to old by then apparently. He didn't watch the show much.

veggytheropoda2 karma

Hello from China. Last year marks the 70th anniversary of what we call "Resist U.S. aggressors and aid Korea" war. Because Sino-US relationship is going south, it is very reasonable that the anniversary was honoured in various ways, and there's a blockbuster (people might call it propaganda, but a good propaganda that I can enjoy, where both sides are faithfully portrayed).

Have your grandparents encountered individual soilders from different troops (South, North, US, other members of the UN, China)? What do they think of the characteristics from these different troops?

Kryptonthenoblegas2 karma

My grandparents have encountered soldiers from all sides and generally the sentiment is- the chinese and north soldiers were 'scary' (a mix of propaganda as the 'enemy' and the fact that they speak and act differently)- my grandparents didn't actually see them because they fled during the 1.4 retreat, so I can't confirm. Also with the whole 'everyone is equal under communism' thing, some people did dislike the north korean soldiers because they thought they had no manners or 'proper values'. The US ones were kinda big and 'fierce' and a lot of kids chased them around for chocolate lol- but some of them flirted with local women which the men didn't like. My grandmother and grandfather were pretty indifferent between both north and southern soldiers, but they were wary of the northern soldiers (again because of propaganda and stuff). My grandparents were south koreans though- so this may be a bit biased.

spider_84-2 karma

If Korea had won the war do you think everyone around the world would be eating kimchi?

Kryptonthenoblegas1 karma

No, not really.