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One Day In A Russian Prison
Sept. 10, 1946 - Hamhung: I am lucky to be alive and tell my story of this day. I and a schoolmate of mine go bird hunting with a pellet gun. My father gave me the gun on my 11th birthday (I really wanted a shotgun but it is illegal to own a firearm). It was made in Germany. The gun barrel is hinged and you compress the air in a chamber by turning the barrel at a hinge. Pellets are made of soft lead and loaded directly into the barrel. The summit of Mt. Un Hung is covered with ancient pine trees. All sorts of birds and wild animals live there. At the foot of the mountain are some choice wooded lots (formerly Japanese-owned) occupied by the Russian military.

I spot a large bird and follow it for an hour or so. I am so much excited about my very first kill, that I fail to realize that I am too close to a Russian compound. I fail to notice two Russians approaching me. My companion spots them first and runs for his life - but it is too late for me. The Russian soldiers pounce on me and beat me unconscious. When I come to, I find myself inside an old Japanese Shinto shrine (about the size of a phone booth). I am so terrified that I pee in my pants and start screaming - Help, Help!

After an eternity, a Russian officer opens the door and lets me out. One of the Russians who caught me says that I shot him with the pellet gun! The other soldier says that I was spying. They start beating and kicking me all over again. Back to the Shinto shrine. By now, I am perfectly calm - neither sad nor scared. I relieve myself on the floor - my parting gift to the Russians. My revenge! Afterwards, I feel stupid - and the smell is bad.

I am ready to die. I always wondered why some Chinese prisoners who were about to be beheaded by the Japanese were smiling. I thought the Chinese were morons. Now I understand the feeling when a doomed man realizes that his end is near and that there is absolutely nothing he can do to change it - that's his karma. My friend escapes from the Russians and runs to a Militia station. The station chief contacts a Korean communist friend of his, who in turn contacts a Russian political commissar. The Russians must have realized that killing a young Korean school kid is not a popular thing to do - especially with a live witness.

Several hours later, a Militia man and a Russian officer arrive. The Russian shouts some commands to my Russian captors. I am let out. The man says that I am free to go. I ask for my pellet gun. The Russian officer says he is keeping it as an evidence. With a final kick to my butt, I am handed over to the Militia man. He is fuming mad at the Russians but says there is not a thing he can do. He says that we are paying dearly for the corruption and incompetence of our forefathers. He says that someday Korea will become strong again as in the glory days of Kokuryo and get even with all of the foreigners who have humiliated us over the centuries. My hatred is directed to the Soviet Russians - not Communists. After all, the Korean communists were the only organized resistance to the Japanese occupation. Most of them are Korean patriots using communism as the rallying point.

Koreans from the Soviet Union are taking over key positions in the People's Committee and government agencies. The native and Korean-Chinese communists are being set aside. Comrade Chu, an old Korean communist who spent years in China with Mao, was made the party boss of Hamhung in 1945 - but now he is a history teacher at our school. The kids make fun of him because he speaks the "old" Korean (pre-Japanese) language.

The Russian Koreans (those who came from Russia and those Non-Russian Korean opportunists who work for the Russians) possess few qualifications for their jobs and are much despised by the people for their incompetence. The only thing they have going for them is their loyalty to Stalin - "our great father" and "our fatherland", the USSR. More significantly, the Russian Koreans are viewed as errand boys of a foreign power - not much different from Syngman Rhee's pro- Japanese traitors working for the Americans.

These people call USSR their fatherland and Stalin their father. They sing Russian patriotic songs and kiss the Russian ass. They don't know much about Korea. At social gatherings, it is customary to do some communal singing of Korean folk songs - these guys do the 'Our great, eternal leader Marshal Stalin..' crap instead! They makes me sick.

Oct. 1, 1946 - Pyongyang University is renamed Kim Il Sung University - start of the personality cult.

There is no fraternization between Koreans and Russians except at the top level. Russian kids go to their schools (formerly Japanese) and we go to Korean schools. Russians look down upon us as a second class race and there exists much tension. It is not safe for a Russian to be alone in a Korean neighborhood and vice versa - even in broad daylight. Many of us carried weapons - Japanese hara-kiri swards, grenades, pistols, etc. - in our school bags. In addition to the Russian gangs, we have to deal with rival school gangs.

Oct. 2, 1946 - I am late for school and have to walk by myself today. Normally, I walk together with my gang for protection against the Russian kids. All of sudden, I hear a loud scream - "Watch out!" - from behind. As I am about to turn around, I feel a sharp pain on my back.

A Russian kid has just stabbed me! Lucky for me, the blade hits my shoulder bone and does not penetrate much. Several Korean adults rush to my assistance and the poor Russian stands there without knowing what to do. I take out my Japanese hara-kiri knife and try to stab the Russian but an adult stops me. The Russian starts to cry and we let him go.

FREEDOM IS A RIGHT OF ALL HUMAN BEINGS IN A WORLD WHERE LIFE IS VALUED AND PEACE MAY FINALLY BE A POSSABILITY
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All information is Copyright 1997 - 2003 'Foreign Prisoner Support Service' unless stated otherwise - Click here for the legal stuff
All information is Copyright 1997 - 2003 'Foreign Prisoner Support Service' unless stated otherwise - Click here for the legal stuff