Belay Bekele served in the Ethiopian military during the Korean War. He was part of the 1st Ethiopian Battalion to go to Korea. His father served in the Ethiopian military, however, perished in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. Belay Bekele could not attend formal school because of the war with Italy. He enlisted in the Ethiopian military in 1947 and went to Korea in 1951, where he served one year. The Ethiopian forces were the only United Nations to not surrender, nor retreat during the war. Belay Bekele even met future President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower on a battlefield in Korea. Upon returning to Ethiopia, Belay Bekele served in the Imperial Guard until 1960. He has revisited Korea two times and Korea’s transformation amazes him.
Father's Service in Second Italo-Ethiopian War
Belay Bekele describes his life during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. His father served and ultimately perished fighting the Italian war of aggression. Life was interrupted. He describes how the war was everywhere and school was not offered.
Protecting a Country Being Attacked
Belay Bekele describes the reasoning for Ethiopian forces going to Korea. Emperor Haile Selassie made a promise to the United Nations to protect nations being attacked. Ethiopia was the only country in Africa to send troops to Korea. Belay Bekele also describes the suffering of the people. He says the people would eat food scraps from the soldiers.
So Many Surrenders
Belay Bekele describes fighting conditions in Korea. He explains how the threats were everywhere, because of all of the enemy surrenders. Ethiopian forces took in all people, enemies, and civilians. He also discusses how the winters and mountains were the most difficult things outside of the enemy. Winters were extremely cold and there were so many mountains.
00:00:00 [Beginning of Recorded Material]
Interviewer:: It’s a November 12th 2019 the capital city of Ethiopia Addis Ababa and this is this veterans house very beautiful my name is Jongwoo Han I am the president of Korean War Legacy Foundation we are doing this interview to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the breakout of the Korean War commissioned by the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs to commemorate 70th anniversary it’s my great honor
Interviewer: And pleasure to meet you sir please say your name and spell it for the audience please?
Translator: እኔ ከኮሪያ ነው የመጣሁት እና የናንተን ታሪክ እንዲቀጥል በሚል ድርጅት አለኝ እና የዛ ደርጅትእኔ ነኝ ፕሬዘደንቱ እና የመጣሁት የናንተ ታሪክ ቀጥሎ ለልጅ ልጆች ቀጥሎ የመማሪያ መጽሀፍ ላዘጋጅ ነውየመጣሁት ይሄንን ከዚህ በፊትም ሰርቼዋለሁ እና አሁን ኢንተርቪው አደርገዎታለሁ ሙሉ ስሞትን ይንገሩኝ? (I came from Korea and I have a company which work on keeping the legacy of the Korean War Veterans and I am the president. (So I came here to preserve your memory and pass it to the next generation and prepare a book for educational purpose. I have been doing this interview in the past time. Now introduce yourself for the audience?)
Belay Bekele: Okay, My name is Belay Bekele.
Translator: His name is Belay Bekele. I will spell it B E L A Y the last name is B E K E L E.
Interviewer: What is your birthday? When and where were you born?
Translator: የተወለዱት መቼ እና የት ነው? (When and where were you born?)
Bekele Belay: የተወለድኩት በ 1922 መስከረም 7 ቀን ነው (I was born in 1929 in September 18)
Translator: I was born in 1929 in September 18)
Interviewer: So how old is he now then?
Translator: ያማለት ስንት አመቶት ነው በአሁን? (That means how old are you now?)
Belay Bekele: በአሁኑ 88 አለቀ 90 ማለት ነው (That means now am around 88 or 90 years old am 90 years old)
Translator: Now I am 90 years old.
Interviewer: Wow you look still very young.
Translator: አሁንም ወጣት ነው የሚመስሉት (You still look very young)
Interviewer: So, tell me about your family background when you were growing up what your father did and your mother and your brother and sisters?
Translator: ያኔ ልጅ እያሉ ስለ እናት እና ስለ አባቶት ይንገሩኝ እህት ካለዎት ወንድምም ካለዎት ያኔ ልጅ እያሉየነበረውን ይንገሩኝ? (Tell me about your mother father and if you have sister and brother when you were a child in that time?)
Belay Bekele: ልጅ እያለሁ እናት አሉ አባቴ ግን በጣሊያን ሞተዋል እህቶች አሉ ትልቅ ወንድም አሉ፡፡ (when I was a child I had my mother but my father deceased in Italy war)
Translator: ስንት እህት ስንት ወንድም ነበረዎት? (How many sister and brother did you have?)
Belay Bekele: 3 እህቶች 2 ወንድሞች ነበሩኝ አልፈዋል ሁለቱም ወንዶች አንዷ ሴት አልፋለች ሁለቱ ሴቶችአሉ፡፡ (I used to have 3 sisters and 2 brothers both of my brothers passed away and one of my sister also died now I have two sisters)
Translator: I have my mother back then alive she was alive but my father was passed away in the Italy war. And also I used to have 3 sisters and 2 brothers at that time.
Interviewer: So tell me about your father that fought in the war against Italy. Tell me about why Italy attack Ethiopia?
Translator: ያኔ አባቶት በጦርነቱ ላይ ነው አይደል የሞቱት? (That time your father passed in the war right?)
Belay Bekele: አዎ በጣሊያን (Yes in the Italy war.)
Translator: ውጊያው ላይ ሆነው ማለት ነው እና ስለሱ እስኪ ይንገሩን? ለምንድን ነው ጣሊያን ለምንድን ነውኢቲዮጲያን ልትወር የሞከረችው? እና ስለዛ ታሪክ እስኪ ይንገሩን? (that means in the war right so tell us about that? Why did Italy tried to attack Ethiopia tell us the about that history?)
Belay Bekele: ጣሊያን ሊወር የመጣው እንግዲ በሀይሉ ነው የመጣው ሃይል ይዞ መጣ ሃገራችንን ወረረ ወደ 5 አመት መቼም ያውና መከራ አሳየን (The Italy come with power to our country and conquer us for 5 years)
Translator: So Italy tried to conquer Ethiopia they tried for 5 years.
Interviewer: So your father killed during the war
…in against Italy?
Translator: የዛኔ ነው አባቶት የሞተው ማለት ነው በጣሊያን ውጊያ ላይ? (That means your father died in the Italy war?
Belay Bekele: አዎ (Yes)
Translator: Yes my father was killed in the war of the Italy.
Interviewer: I’m sorry to hear that and tell me about your educational background what school did you go through?
Translator: አዝናለሁ ይሄን ስለሰማሁ እና ያኔ ይማሩ የነበረበት ትምህርት ቤት ካለ ስንተኛ ድረስ ተምረዋል? እስኪ ስለ ትምህርት ቤት ሁኔታዎት ይንገሩን? (I’m sorry to hear that. So tell me about the educational background of yours and how far you go in school?)
Belay Bekele: ያን ጊዜ መማር አልቻልንም ምክኒያቱም ስደት ነው ያን ጊዜ ጣሊያን ስለሚያባርር
…እኔ ትምህርት ቤት አልነበርኩም የኔ ታላቆች ግን ይማሩ ነበር (in that time we couldn’t study because it was running from the Italians but our elders used to study.)
Translator: We couldn’t study because the Italy was trying to kill us in that time so we couldn’t study but my older brother used to study.
Interviewer: How did the Italian military treat Ethiopian people at that time?
Translator: የዛኔ ጣላኒያዎች ኢትዮጲያን እንዴት ነበር የሚያደርጓት የነበረው ያስታውሳሉ? (How did the Italian treat Ethiopians did you remember?
Belay Bekele: አዎ ውጊያ ነው እኛ ምን እንግዲ በየጫካ ነው ያለነው እነሱ በዚ በኩል ይመጣሉ ይተኩሳሉ
በዛ በኩል ይመጣሉ ይተኩሳሉ በቃ እኛ መሸሽ ብቻ ነው እና ባላገር ነው እዚ አይደለም ከተማ ሃገር ቤት ማለት ነው፡፡(Yes so everywhere was a war in Ethiopia so we are out of the city in the jungle hiding and running all the time)
Translator: Everywhere was in Ethiopia it was war so we used to run because the Italy from every side of Ethiopia there was war so we used to run.
Interviewer: Then when did you join the military in Ethiopia?
Translator: መቼ ነበር ኢትዮጲያ ውትድርናውን የተቀላቀሉት? (when did you join the military in Ethiopia?)
Belay Bekele: በ1940 ዓ.ም (In 1947 G.C)
Translator: I joined the military
…in 1947 G.C
Interviewer: And then did you know about the Korea at the time?
Translator: ያኔ ስለ ኮሪያ የሚያውቁት ነገር ነበረ? (Did you know about Korea at that time?)
Belay Bekele: ምንም የምናውቀው ነገር የለም ሴኩሪቲ ኮሌክቲቭ ቃል ለገባነው አላማ ወደ ሩቅ ምስራቅትሄዳላቹ ተብለን ከ ግርማዊ ቀዳማዊ ኃይለ ስላሴ ነው የተነገረን። (We didn’t know about Korea but as the promised made for the security collective we were told that we will go to Fareast from His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie.)
Translator: We didn’t know anything about Korea but there was information they told us to go to Far East Asia.
Interviewer: So, when you knew
…that you are going to the war were you afraid? How I mean were you excited or were you afraid how was it?
Translator: ያኔ ወደ ጦር ሊሄዱ ሲል እንዴት ነው ፈርተው ነበር ወይስ በጣም ደስ በሎት ነበር ሄደውጦርነቱ ላይ ለመግባት ምንድን ነበር የተሰማዎት?
Belay Bekele: ምንም የተሰማን ነገር የለም በደስታ ተቀብለን ዘመቻውን ለመሄድ ተዘጋጀን (We feel nothing but we were excited to go and get ready to go.)
Translator: We were very excited at that time to join the war because we didn’t know anything it was for the first time.
Interviewer: How old were you?
Translator: ስንት አመቶት ነበር ጦርነቱ ላይ ሲሄዱ? (Hold were you when you join the military?)
Belay Bekele: 23
Translator: I was 23 years old.
Interviewer: So, tell me about the trip from here to Korea was it through ocean and how was it?
Translator: መንገዱ እንዴት ነበር ከዚ ሲሄዱ የነበረው በውቂይኖስ ላይ ነበር በመርከብ ነበር በምንደነውእስኪ ይንገሩን?
(How was the trip when you go is it on ocean did you go via ship tell us about how the trip was?
Belay Bekele: በመርከብ ነው ከጂቡቲ ተሳፍረን እና ሌትንም ቀኑንም ስንጓዝ ልክ ያው
…22 ቀን 44 ሌት እና ቀን ሲቆጠር ማለት ነው (We go with ship from Djibouti it took 22 days that means 44 when we calculate the night and the day.)
Translator: From Djibouti to Korea it took around 22 days and nights so we used to go with the ship
Interviewer: What was your rank at the time and what was your unit were you the first battalion or what?
Translator: ስንተኛው ቃኘው ነበሩ? እና ምድቦትስ ምን ላይ ነበር? (What was your battalion and what was your unit?)
Belay Bekele: አንደኛ ቃኘው አብሪ ሻምበል (1st Battalion, “Abri Shambel”)
Translator: My units called “Abri Shambel” so I was in the 1st battalion
Interviewer: First battalion, and you arrived in Busan May 6 of 1951 is that right?
Translator: ያኔ የሄዱት በ1951 የመጀመሪያው ስንተኛው ወር ላይ ሰኔ ላይ ነበር የገቡት አይደለ? (it was in 1951 when you go to Korea right? And when was it on May or June)
Belay Bekele: ሚያዚያን ጨርሰን ነው ሚያዚያ እዛው አለቀ (Yes around in the last of April)
Translator: ቡሳን ነበር አይደል ያረፉት? (You arrved in Busan right?)
Bekele Belay: አዎ ቡሳን ግንቦት ነው
…እዛ እንግዲ ሚያዚያን ጨረስን (Yes in Busan it was in Last in April and around the first of May)
Interviewer: And tell me please explain to Ethiopian young children why Emperor Selassie decide to send Ethiopian solders to the country that Ethiopians didn’t know at all?
Translator: ለምን ይመስሎታል ኢምፔሪዬር ኃይለ ስላሴ የኢትዮጲያን ወታደር ወደ ኮሪያ የላኩት? (Why do you think emperor Haile Selassie sent Ethiopian soldiers to Korea?)
Belay Bekele: የተላክንበት
…ምክኒያቱ ሴኩሪቲ ኮሌክቲቭ ቃል ለገባንበት አላማ። አነስትኛ መንግስታት ከፍተኛ መንግስቶች የሆኑእንዳይደመስሷት እና እነዛን ለማዳን እንዳይደመሰሱ ለማድረግ ነው። (The reason is because of the promise that was gave to security collective. And to stop the attack of the higher country to the lower country)
Translator: The reason the emperor Haile Selassie send the troops it was because we made a promise on the UN so that we will keep the security of any country that tried to be control
…or to be conquered so it was a promise that’s why we go.
Interviewer: How many soldiers did go in the first time?
Translator: በመጀመሪያ ጊዜ የሄዱት ወታደሮች ስንት ነበሩ ያስታውሳሉ? (Did you remember how many soldiers go for the first time?)
Belay Bekele: አዎ። አንድ ሺ ሁለት መቶ ሃምሣ ሰባት። (Yes it was one thousand two hundred fifty seven)
Translator: It was one thousand two hundred fifty seven soldiers that was go to.
Interviewer: You have such a good memory sir
Translator: በጣም ነው የሚያስታውሱት በጣም ጥሩ የማስታወስ ቸሎታ አሎት?
Belay Bekele: እንዴ ታዲያ የሄድንበት የፃፍነውን የት ይቀራል ይሄን መናገር (Off Corse how could I forgot we were there we witnessed it)
Translator: How could I forgot?
Interviewer: So what was your rank at the time?
Translator: ያኔ ማዕረጎት ምንድን ነበር? (Time what was your rank?)
Belay Bekele: ወታደር (Soldier)
Translator: I was a soldier.
Interviewer: Just foot soldier, so you are infantry right?
Translator: ኢንፋንተሪ ነበሩ ማለት ነው? (You were infantry right?)
Interviewer: And tell me about the Korea you saw for the first time in your life how was it,
…how was Korean economy how was Korea people living just tell us exactly honestly?
Translator: የምር የውስጦትን ምንም ሳይደብቁን ያኔ ኮሪያን ለመጀመሪያ ጊዜ ሲያዩዋት የነበረውን ሁኔታሃብቷ እንዴት ነበር ሰዎቿ እንዴት ነበሩ ሃገሪቱ እንዴት ነበረች የእውነቶትን ሳይደብቁን ንገሩን? (Tell us honestly the Korea you first saw how the people were how their economy. How was it tell us?)
Belay Bekele: ችግረኛ ናቸው ችግሩ የታወቀ ነው። ችግረኛ ሆነው በጦርነቱ ምክኒያት በጣም ይቸገሩ ስለነበረያነው ችገራቸው እና
…ሃገሪቱን በጣም አድቀዋት ነበር በመሳሪያ ማለት ነው ስለዚህ ጠፍታ ስለነበረ ያንን ሁሉ እንግዲ ያው ጦርነቱ ላይእኛ ወደዚያ በሄድንበት ጊዜ ለነሱ የሚያስፈልገንን ከኛ ምግብ የምንበላውን ሁሉ እየሰጠን እነሱም ከኛ ጋራ ብዙ ነገርእያደረጉ ነበር።
Translator: They were really really really poor at that time. The city was destroyed almost
…all of it. So we remember that they used to eat what when we finished our food or if there is a leftover we used to give for them because they don’t have anything to eat that’s what I remember.
Interviewer: So from Busan where did you go?
Translator: ከቡሳን ወዴት ነበር የሄዱት? (From Busan where did you go?)
Belay Bekele: ከቡሳን በ በባቡር ካምቢዮንግ የሚባለው ቦታ ላይ ነው የመጣነው ወደዚ ወደ ጦር ሜዳ ማለትነው። (From Busan we come to the place called Kambeyong with train)
Translator: From Busan we use train
…and we go to Kambeyong.
Belay Bekele: አዎ ካምቢዮንግ። (Yes Kambeyong)
Interviewer: Gapyeong, Gapyeong yes. And from Gapyeong where did you go?
Belay Bekele: ካምፕ የነበረን እሱ ነው የኛ ካምፕ የተሰጠን። (That was where our camp was)
Translator: ከዛ ጋፕዮንግ ደሞ ወዴት ሄዱ? (After Gapyeong where did you go?)
Belay Bekele: ከዛ ወደ ጦር ሜዳ ብቻ ነው ቦታው እሱ ነው። (After that we go straight to the battle field.)
Translator: We just go to the battle.
Interviewer: Battle, front line right so you know Gemhuwa is that familiar to you
Translator: ክምኋ የሚባል ይመጣሎታል ጭንቅላቶት ውስጥ የሚያስታውሱት ነገር አለ ስለዚህ ድምፅ? (Is this sound familiar to you Kemhuwa?)
Belay Bekele: ምን? (What?)
Translator: ክምኋ (Kemhuwa)
Interviewer: But you went to the battle line directly how the situation there? Who was enemy and how was the battle situation there please explain it?
Translator: ከዛ ከጋፕዮንግ ከሄዱ በኋላ ቀጥታ ወደ ፍልሚያ አይደል የሄዱት? (So after Gapyeong you go to the front line right?)
Belay Bekele: አዎ ጦር ሜዳ። (Yes to the front line)
Translator: የዛኔ እንዴት ነበር ሁኔታው? ጠላት ማን ነበር? ከማን ጋር ነበር የሚፋለሙት? (How was the situation back then? Who was the enemy? With whom did you fight against?)
Belay Bekele: ጠላት እንግዲ ቻይና እና ራሺያ ነው
…ከወዲያ ያለው ውጊያው። (Our enemy was China and Russia)
Translator: The enemy was the Chinese and the Russian.
Interviewer: How about North Koreans?
Translator: የሰሜን ኮሪያዎቹስ አልነበሩም? (what about the North Koreans?)
Belay Bekele: እኮ አብሮ የሰሜን ኮሪያን ተከትሎ የሚረዱዋቸው እነሱ ነበሩ። (Off Corse the North Korea also was the enemy helped by the Chinese and the Russian)
Translator: Off Corse there was North Korea there was helped by the Chinese and the Russian.
Interviewer: And so is there any special memory still remember about the battle experience?
Translator: በዛ ሰዓት ልዩ የሆነ ትውስታ የሚያስታወሱት ትውስታ አለ በጦርነቱ ላይ ኮሪያ ላይ? (Is there any special memory you remember on the battle at Korea?)
Belay Bekele: አይ ያው እንግዲ ጦርነት ነው ያው እንግዲ እነሱ ስንዋጋ እንግዲ ባለው መንገድ ያውየሚማረክም ይማረካል የነሱ ቻይና ይማረካል ራሺያም ተማርኳል ከወዲያ እና እነሱን ለአሜሪካን ነው የምናስረክበውለሰባተኛው ዲቪዢን የኛ ከእሱ ጋር ነው
…እኛ የተመደብነው። (So it was a war so there was surrender at that time the Chinese used to surrender and the Russian also and we used to take them to the Americans 7th division we were under the 7th division.)
Translator: We was with the Americans 7th division. So in that time there was so many surrenders from China and from Russia also so that the special think I could say I remember.
Interviewer: Was there any dangerous moment that you could be wounded or killed?
Translator: በዛ ሰዓት ይሄኔ ሊጎዱ ወይም ሊሞቱበት የሚችል በጣም አደገኛ አደጋ አጋጥሞት ያቃል? (In that time was there any dangerous moment that you could have been wounded or killed?
Belay Bekele: አዎ ብዙ ነገር አለ ከወዲያ በብዙ መሳሪያ ነው እንደዚ ነው የሚመጡት
…ያሁሉ እላያችን ላይ ሲያፈሱ ግን እኛ ያው የሚሞትብን የተመታብንን እንስነሳለን የሞቱትንም እናስነሳለን ሂሊኮፕተርይመጣል በዛ እንወስዳለን ያው ወደ ሀኪም ነው የሚሄዱት ከዛ በኋዋላ ቡሳን መቶ ነው ቀብራቸው የሚደረገውየሞቱት የቆሰሉት ወደ ቶኪዮ ነው የሚሄዱት። (Yes there was so many moments because they attack in hard that time so a lot of soldiers were hit lot wounded and some died that time so we pick the wounded and also they one died. And soldiers who passed away come to Bussan and buried but the ones wounded used to be taken to Tokyo)
Translator: There was so many dangerous times that could have been hurts because it was at
…really so many situations happened there because we used to save everyone even hitting even wounded we have to take even dead we have to take that body so we used to be in the really dangerous time. At that time they used to hit us from helicopter so many things so we used to be in the really dangerous time.
Interviewer: What was the relationship with the American soldiers there?
Translator: ግንኙነታቹ ከአሜሪካዎቹ ጋር የዛኔ ምንድን ነበር? (How was your relation with the Americans?)
Belay Bekele: ጥሩ ነው። (It was good)
Translator: It was good relations with the Americans.
Interviewer: What was the most difficult thing during your service in Korea? What did bother you most was it weather or was it food or anything?
Translator: በዛ ሰዓት በጣም ያስቸግርዎት የነበረው ነገር ምንድን ነበር? ለምሳሌ ምግብ ነው? ወይንስ አየሩነው? ወይስ ምንድን ነበር በጣም ያስቸግርዎት የነበረው ነገር? (What was the most difficult thing? Was it the food? Was it the weather? Or what was the most difficult thing?)
Belay Bekele: ምን ችግሩን ሁሉን ለማስወገድ በግዴታችን ስለሆነ ብርዱንም በልብስ ነው ችግሩም
…ዳገቱም ጋራውም በምቻል ነው በመስራት። (The weather was very difficult so we have to have our clothes also climbing the mountains were also difficult)
Translator: The most difficult thing was the mountain the winter because we have to climb all by foot so that one also the difficulty also the winter because we have never seen a winter in Ethiopia. So that one the first difficult I would say.
Interviewer: Were there any Korean soldier or Korean people working with you? And
…what was the relationship Koreans?
Translator: የዛኔ በጦርነቱ ላይ በሚሄዱበት ጊዜ ኮሪያዎች ነበሩ አብረዋቹ? ከኮሪያዎችሁስ ጋር የነበራቹግንኙነት? (Were there Korea people with you and what was the relationship you have?
Belay Bekele: ጥሩ ነው መሳሪያ ከኛ ጋር ጥይት ያቀብላሉ መስመር ድረስ ጥይት ተሸክመውልን ይሄዳሉ እና ሁሉንምነገር ይረዱናል አብረን ነው። (We have good relation they give us our weapons and they even carry out our weapons to the front line.)
Translator: From the Korean people we have so many good relations they used to bring us every material that we need in the battle even the will take off
…so many machines so that we can just fight with it so they used to bring us in the middle of the battle yeah we had so many good relation.
Interviewer: And how many Ethiopian soldiers were killed when you were there do you remember any of it?
Translator: የዛኔ እርሶ ጦርነቱ ላይ በነበሩበት ጊዜ የሚያስታውሱት ምን ያህል ወታደር እንደሞተ ያስታውሳሉ? (When you were in the war did you remember how many Ethiopian soldiers died?)
Belay Bekele: እንግዲ ከኛ ከአንደኛ ምን ያህል እንደሞተ አሁን አላውቅም ግን ጠቅላላ ግን ያው
…በሆነ ጊዜ የሞተው ሰው መቶ ሀያ ሁለት ሰው ብቻ ነው የምንለው ማለት ነው ጠቅላላውን ነው። (So I don’t know how much soldiers were killed in the first battalion but in general one hundred twenty two Ethiopian soldiers were killed in Korean War.)
Translator: I couldn’t remember how many soldiers passed away in my battalion but I could say from all the war 122 soldiers passed away.
Interviewer: Many young Ethiopian students will listen
…to this interview so please explain to them what is most important facts that they need to know the young Ethiopia students know about Ethiopian military operation in Korea?
Translator: ይሄንን ቃለ ምልልስ በጣም ብዙ የኢትዮጲያ የዘማች ልጆች እና የዘማች ቤተሰቦች ይሰማዎታልይሄን ቃለ ምልልስ እና በጣም ወሳኝ እና መስማት አለባቸው ብለው የሚያስቡት መልዕክት ስለ ኢትዮጲያ ኮሪያ
…ጦርነት ምንድን ነው? (This interview will be seen with a lot of Ethiopian young children so tell us what they should know about the Ethiopian Korean War.)
Belay Bekele: እና ጦርነቱማ ያው እንግዲ ቃል ለተገባንበት አላማ የተሄደ ስለሆነ ያንን ነገር ፈፅመን የነፃከተደርገ በኋላ ተመልሰን በኢትዮጲያ መተን ሃገራችን ተቀምጠናል። (So about the war we got to keep our promise we made so after we see the freedom we come back to our country proudly)
Translator: So what they have to know and what I want to say about the Korea war the descendants have to know that made our promises for that country and we helped that Korean country
…and then came back so they have to be proud of us also.
Interviewer: Yes, yes you did a lot you did make a lot of contribution to the Korean people back there and now there are many descendants of the Korean War Veterans in Ethiopia what do you think they have to do to keep your legacy forever?
Translator: እዚህ ሀገር እንደሚያውቁት የኮሪያ የዘማች ቤተሰብ የሆኑ ብዙ ልጆች አሉ እና የናንተን ታሪክለማስጠበቅ እነሱ
…ምን ማድረግ አለባቸው ብለው ያስባሉ? (As you know there are a lot of Korean War veterans descendants in Ethiopia to keep your legacy what do you think they have to do?
Belay Bekele: ከዛ ከተገናኘንበት እና ጦርነት ካረግናቸው ሰዎች ጋራ በጥሩ ሁኔታ ሆነው ስርዓቱን እየፈፀሙሰላማዊ ሆነው የሰላም መንገድ ፈጥረው ሰላም ሆነው እንዲኖሩ ነው የምንፈልገው። (The thing I want them to do is to make contact with the ones we fought together and make a peaceful relation and live peacefully.)
Translator: What I am thinking they have to create a peaceful and then good relationship with the one who we fought together the South Korean
…also the American so they can create a food relationship together and they can keep the peace and our legacy together.
Interviewer: When was the happiest what was the happiest moment during your service in Korea?
Translator: አስደሳች ጊዜ ነበር ብለው የሚያስቡት በጦርነቱ ላይ ምንድን ነበረ? (What was your happiest moment during your service?)
Belay Bekele: አስደሳቹ እኛ እንግዲ ከፍሮንት ላይን በኛ በኩል ያለውን ፈፅመን ስንመለስ እረፍት አለን ወደ
…እረፍቱ በምንመጣበት ጊዜ እንዝናናለን ደህና ነበረ እረፍቱ ያኔ ነው ብቃ። (The happiest moment so we when we come back after accomplishing our duty from front line we have recreation time so that was our happiest moment.)
Translator: The happiest moment of our life was in that time when we finish our front line and come back because we have break we enjoy our time so that was our happiest moment.
Interviewer: So what did you do when you enjoy your time back?
Translator: ሲዝናኑ ምንድን ነበር የሚያረጉት የዛኔ ፍሮንት ላይኖትን ጨርሰው ሲመለሱ ምንድን ነበርየሚያረጉት የዛኔ? (What did you do when you enjoy after coming back from front line?)
Belay Bekele: እኛ ሌላ ትምህርት ነዋ። ስንታየሁ የሚባለም
…ያስተማርነው ልጅ አሁንም አለ ሶስት ልጆች ወልዶ ተቀምጧል እዛ ሃገር እኛ ልጅ ሆኖ እንደገና ያስተማርነውያሳደግነው። (We used to study and also there was Korea kid his Ethiopian name was Sentayehu we teach him he grow up with us.)
Translator: ስለዚህ መትው ይማራሉ? (So after come back of front line you study?)
Belay Bekele: እዛ ይማር ነበር። (Yes he used to come and learn)
Translator: እናንተ ኧር? የሚዝናኑት ምን እያረጉ ነበር በዛ ስዓት? (No, what did you do when you enjoy your time after coming back from front line?
Belay Bekele: እኛ? መሳሪያችንን ማሳመር ሁሉን ነገር በቃ መዝናናት ማለት ሌላ የለም። ወዴትም እንግዲ ወደሌላ ከተማ የሚሄዱም ካሉ የሚሄዱ ነበሩ ወደ ቶኪዮም
…የሚሄዱ ነበሩ። (who we? We clean our weapons some used to go other country like Tokyo)
Translator: At that time our enjoyment was cleaning our machines our guns in that time so we used to have one child that we raise at that time becuase he have no family he was orphan. His name is “Sentayehu” we gave him Amharic name so he still visit us here he have now three children so.
Interviewer: He mean Korean?
Translator: Korean Yeah he was orphan.
Interviewer: So I know that the Ethiopian soldier
…donated some money to establish orphanage called Bohwa Won do you know anything about it?
Translator: ቦህዋ ዎን የሚባል ቤተሰብ ለሌላቸው ኢትዮጲያዊያኖች ተሰብስባቹ እንደከፈታቹህላቸውአውቃለሁ ይሄን ነገርም ያውቃሉ ወይ? (Did you know anything about orphanage name called Bohwa Won that Ethiopians together established?
Belay Bekele: አዎ በወቅቱ ተከፍቷል ነገር ግን እስከምን ድረስ እንደደረሰ ብዙውን አላውቀውም። (Yes I know but I don’t know how far it go.)
Translator: ያውቃሉ ነው ጥያቄው? (My question is did you know about it?)
Belay Bekele: አውቃለሁ (Yes I know)
Translator: Yes I know I remember.
Interviewer: And when did you leave Korea?
Translator: መቼ ነበር ከኮሪያ የተመለሱት? (When did you leave Korea?)
Belay Bekele: በ44 ሚያዚያ 22 ነው አዲስ አበባ የገባነው። (we arrived in 1952 June 29)
Translator: በ44 ነው የተመለሱት? (You came back in 44?)
Belay Bekele: አዎ (Yes)
Translator: የሄዱት በስንት ነው? (When did you go?)
Belay Bekele: በ43 (in 1951)
Interviewer: In 1952 right so how long was he there in Korea?
Translator: ለምን ያህል ጊዜ ነበር እዛ የቆዩት? (For how long do you stay there?)
Belay Bekele: አንድ አመት ነው የሚባለው እንገዲ እኛ የምናውቀው። (it was one year we stay there)
Translator: It was one year we stayed there.
Interviewer: Yeah so he came back in 1952
…and when he came back to Ethiopia how did Ethiopian government and people receive you?
Translator: ያኔ ከጦርነቱ ሲመለሱ ወደ ሃገሮት የኢትዮጲያ ህዝብ እና የኢትዮጲያ መንግስት እንዴት ነበርአቀባበሉ? (How did the Ethiopian people and Ethiopian government receive you when you came back?
Belay Bekele: በጥሩ ሁኔታ ነው። (It was good)
Translator: It was with good… it was good.
Interviewer: And after that have you been back to Korea?
Translator: ከዛ በኋላ ወደ ኮሪያ ሄደዋል? ከጦርነቱ በኋል ለ መጎብኝት? (After that have you been back to Korea for visit?
Belay Bekele: ለመጎብኘት ሄጃለሁ። (Yes for a visit I have been back.)
Translator: Yes I was there for visiting.
Interviewer: How many? When? When?
Translator: መቼ ነበረ? (When was it?)
Belay Bekele: በ96 ሄጃለሁ (I went in 2004)
Translator: ከዛ በኋላ ደግሞ ድጋሚ በአሁኑ ሄደዋል? (And then you go back again last year?
Belay Bekele: አዎ (Yes)
Translator: I was in Korea two times in 2004 and then last year also.
Interviewer: Oh you were there in last year?
Translator: 2019 ነው አይደለ የሄዱት? (you were there in 2019 right?)
Belay Bekele: አዎ በዚሁ። (Yes this year.)
Translator: Yeah almost two month ago.
Interviewer: So tell me you saw Korea 1951 you said that they were very poor and you just been Korea two months ago can you compare that and tell this changes to young children in Ethiopia?
Translator: ስለዚህ ሁለቴ ሄደዋል ሊያውም ቅርብ ጊዜና ያኔ ድሮ እና እስኪ ድሮ የነበረችዋን ኮሪያ እና አሁንየነበረችውን ኮሪያ እስኪ ያወዳድሩልን እና ለውጡ ምን ያህል እንደነበረ ለኛ ለወጣቶቹ
…ይንገሩን? (So you were there two times you see Korea before and after the war so compare to us for young children how the changes?)
Belay Bekele: የ96ቱ በጣም ገና እነሱም እያስተካከሉ እየሰሩ ነበረ። እና አዳራሽም ሰርተውልናል እዛ መዝናኛምነበረው እና ሁሉም ነገር ያማረ ነበር አሁን ደሞ በበልጠ ያማረ በጣም ጥሩ የሆነ ተሰርቶ ነው ያየሁት የአሁኑ። (So the 2004 they were rebuilding and preparing yet. And they also build as a hall and there was a recreation place and everything was beautiful, but now I saw it even more than beautiful.)
Translator: 2004 they were trying to make it beautiful
…and they were establishing and so the two month ago it was really perfect and then they really make it large and more beautiful than the last time.
Interviewer: Did you know that the Korean economy is now 11th largest in the world?
Translator: አሁን የኮሪያ ሃብት በአለም ላይ 11ኛዋ ሃብታም እንደሆነች ያውቃሉ? (Did you know that the Korea economy is the 11th largest in the world?)
Belay Bekele: ሲነገር ሰምቻለሁ። (I Heard about it)
Translator: I heard about it.
Interviewer: So when you left Korea in 1952
…did you ever imagine that Korea will become like this today 11th largest economy in the world did you ever imagine when you left?
Translator: ያኔ ከኮሪያ በአስራ ዘጠኝ መጨረሻው ላይ ወደ ኢተዮጲያ ሲመለሱ ኮሪያ አሁን ላይ ያለችበትደረጃ ትደርሳለች ብለው ያውቃሉ? እርሶ በ1952 ሲመለሱ ወደዚ ሃገር ኮሪያ እንደዚ ታድጋለች ብለው ያስቡ ነበር ወይ? (Did you ever imagine Korea will become like this when you come back in 1952?)
Belay Bekele: አዎ ስለሰሩ
…ይደርሳሉ ብዬ አምናለሁ ምክኒያቱም ያንን ግዜም ቢሆን ከጦርነቱ ከኛ በኋላም እየሰሩ ነበር እያደጉ እንደሚሄዱአምናለሁ አምኜ ነበር። (Yes in that time I believed that they will be successful because they were hard worker even in the middle of the war they were working hard so I do believe they will become like this.)
Translator: I believe in that time I believe because they were really trying to work hard so I believe.)
Interviewer: Wow that’s good point and what is the relationship now between Ethiopia Korean War Veterans and Korea?
Translator: አሁን ላይ ግንኙነቱ
…ምን ይመስሎታል የኮሪያ መንግስት እና ከኮሪያ ዘማቾች ጋር ያለው ግንኙነት ምን ይመስሎታል? (Right now what did you think the relation between Ethiopian Korean War Veterans and Korea?)
Belay Bekele: በጣም ጥሩ ነው ደስ የሚያሰኝ ነው። ለኛ ምናየው ወንድሞቻችን ከጎናችን የተለዩት ሃውልትተሰርቶ እዛ መጀመሪያ በሥልሣ ዓ.ም ነው በኛ ሥልሣ ዓ.ም ሰርተው ያንን ሃውልት ግርማዊ ቀዳማዊ ሀ/ስላሴ በዛ ጊዜከፍተውታል እዛ ያለውን
…ቹንቾን የሚባለው ከተማ ላይ የተሰራውን ሃውልት። (It is very good. And they make a memory monument for our fallen brothers and our Majesty Haile Selassie opened it for the first time in the city of Chuncheon.)
Translator: It was really good relation that we have with the Korea government and then they even make memory of that one hundred twenty soldiers passed away in there. So even the emperor Haile Selassie opened the museum Korea so in here also they made that museum here also the association here.)
Interviewer: Where you at
…the ceremony yesterday to complete another building?
Translator: ይሄ አዲሱ ሲመረቅ አዲሱ ፎቅ ትላንትና መተው ነበረ ውይ? (Where you at the ceremony yesterday when the new building complete?)
Belay Bekele: አዎ (Yes)
Translator: Yes I was there.
Interviewer: It’s great to see that two countries now working together.
Translator: በጣም ደስ ይላል ሁለት ሃገራቶች አንድ ላይ ሆነው በመሰራታቸው ማየት በጣም ደስ ይላል። (It’s really great to see two countries working together.)
Belay Bekele: አዎ ደስ ይላል። (Yeah its good)
Interviewer: Who is this young man handsome man would you introduce yourself?
Grandson: My name is Temesgen Admasu Belay. The Ethiopian Korean War Veteran Belay Bekele is my grandfather.
Interviewer: So you are the grandson?
Grandson: Yes I am his grandson.
Interviewer: How old are you?
Grandson: I am 35
Interviewer: 35 you look so young Ethiopian man looks so young here huh? So tell me about did your grandfather tell you about the Korean War when you were growing up?
Grandson: Yes he did a lot of time.
…Every time we sit quietly he tries to tell me about the war what happed then especially he was the first one to go to the Korea war the first battalion. And that was a very though period for them but they survived it. Because he survived that one he always talks to me that “I survived the Korea war
…I was the first one in the battalion” they fought with the North Korean there was a mountain they say and the United States it took them more than 2 years to take down the mountain but when my grandfather and the Ethiopian battalion arrive there it took them only one month to finish the war.
Interviewer: Yeah that’s the strength and the braveness
…of the Ethiopian soldier. And that is what we need to know but did you learn anything about the Korean War when you were in school middle school and high school? Here in Ethiopia did they teach you anything about Korea War?
Grandson: I don’t think so I just heard about the Korean War because my grandfather was a Korean Veteran. Not from the school.
Interviewer: Isn’t it ridiculous? Isn’t it strange they don’t teach about this?
Grandson: It is very ridiculous there is a problem in teaching history in Ethiopia. They made a history there because Ethiopia was the only country who fought the Korean War among the African countries and that should be we could have been more proud like the Italian war so they didn’t teach us about the Korean War and I am very sorry for that. But because my grandfather
…were a Korean Veteran and which I am very proud that he always tells me where ever he remembers about the war he talks to me we did this, we did this even he told me one story about the united states president Eisenhower he came and visited them because of their bravery. And he told me that Eisenhower slap my face and asked me how old he was and he told him he was twenty.
Interviewer: I want to ask your grandfather about that? So let’s ask him? Your grandson just told me that American president visited your unit and what happened there? Did you see him tell me?
Translator: ልጆት የልጅ ልጆት አሁን ምን ብሎ ተናግሯል መሰሎት የአሜሪካው ፕሬዝደንቱ መቶእንደጎበኞት ነግሮናል እና እስኪ ስለሱ ነገር በደምብ ያውሩን እያለ ነው? (So your grandson just told us that the American president came to your unit and visited you so tell us a little more about that?
Belay Bekele: አዎ ካምቢዮንግ የሚባለው ቦታ ነው የመጣው
…እና በሄሊኮፕተር መቶ እዛ እኛ 700 ተራራን አስለቅቀን ያንን በማየት የተነሳ ነው እሱ መቶ እኛን ሊጎበኘን የተያዘውያን ቦታ አስለቀቁ ብለው ሲነግሩት ይሄ ቦታ ይሄ ሌሎቹ ያላስለቀቁት እነዚ ኢትዮጲያኖች እንዴት ያንን ቦታ አስለቀቁብሎ ሊያየን መጣ ሲያየን እኛ ያውና እንግዲ ተቀባዮቹ ኮሎኔል
…ተሾመ እርገቱ ኮሎኔል ከበደ ገብሬ ሌላው ጦሩ ሠራዊቱ በጠቅላላው እንደነበረ ካምቢዮንግ የሚባለው ቦታ ነውየተቀበልነው ካምቢዮንግ የሚባለው ተቀብለን እዛ ሲጎበኝ ሀው ሜኒ ሲለኝ ትዌንቲ አልኩት ኋት አለኝ ምንም ዝምየወታደር ስርዓት መልስ የለም ገብቶካል። (Yes it was in Kambeyong then he came with helicopter after we took place in the 700 mountain he wanted to visit because he heard that we did this so he said how could they done that when the other couldn’t do? He welcomed by our Colonel Teshome Ergetu and Colonel Kebede Gebre and with the all military soldiers. So when he was visiting he up to me and said “How many?” I said “Twenty” then he said “what?” then I didn’t reply.)
Translator: He came to our it was called Kambeyong when we were there he heard about that there was a mountain called 700 so we took place because they tried so many years but they didn’t fulfill that mission but we just fulfilled with one month so he heard about it and he want to see who did that so he came to our place with the helicopter and then he was visiting at that place and he just came to me
…and then he asked me how many but I just answered twenty but what twenty so it was really good time back then.
Interviewer: That’s great. Umm again to you. Do you know anything about Korea now?
Grandson: Yes I know that Korea is now the 11th most prosperous country in the world. And there are lots of more
…technological activities there the Samsung brand the LG brand and there are also some other automotive that have been manufactured in Korea. I think they are doing a very good job and I hope they will even in the future become more and more prosperous.
Interviewer: Did you know any Korean culture pop culture popular culture like the song, drama,
…movie or things like that?
Grandson: Yes there are some songs I hear there was one channel I used to watch during my younger time it was called Arirang I used to watch that channel but not now.
Interviewer: That’s English Channel right?
Grandson: Yes the English Channel.
Interviewer: And have you been to Korea?
Grandson: No I haven’t.
Interviewer: No? Okay, you want to go back?
Grandson: I would like to see it visited one day.
…if God wills.
Interviewer: What do you do now?
Grandson: Now I am a theologian in my carrier.
Grandson: Theology yes.
Interviewer: Orthodox Christian?
Grandson: Orthodox Christian theology now I am just spending my time reading books trying to preaching some places.
Interviewer: So sir you are sitting with your grandson
…and he is now studying theology are you proud of him?
Translator: አሁን ከልጅ ልጆት ጋር ቁጭብለው እያየን ነው እና ልጆት ደሞ ቲዮሎጂን ተመርቆ ጨርሶ በዚይኮራሉ ወይ? (Now you are sitting with your grandson and he is studying theology are you proud of him?)
Belay Bekele: አዎ ተደስቻለሁ በጣም። (Yes I am really happy.)
Translator: Am really happy and proud of him because of that.
Interviewer: So after you returned from Korea what did you do?
Translator: ከኮሪያ ከመጡ በኋላ
…እዚህ ምንድን ነበር የሚያረጉት? (After you came back from Korea what did you do?)
Belay Bekele: ምንም የማረገው የለም። መቼ? የመቼ? በፊት? (There was nothing I do. When? That time?
Translator: ከኮሪያ ጦርነት በኋላ? (After the war?)
Belay Bekele: አዎ ያው ነው ወታደር ነኛ። (It’s the same I was a soldier in here too)
Translator: እዚህም መተው ወታደር ነበሩ? (Also when you came here you were soldier?)
Belay Bekele: አዎ (Yes)
Translator: I was a soldier even here after the war.
Interviewer: When did you retire from military?
Translator: ከውትድርና ያቆሙት መቼ ነው? ውትድርና ጡረታ የወጡት መቼ ነው? (When did you stop from the military? When did you retire from military?
Belay Bekele: ጡረታ እንኳን አይደለም
…በአስራ ዘጠኝ ማነው ሃምሳ ሶስት በኋላ ሪፐብሉሺን ስላደረጉ የኛትን ማነው መንግስቱ ነዋይ በዛ ምክኒያት ትቼነው የሄድኩት።
Translator: ማለት ያቆሙት እራሶት ፈልገው ነው? (You mean you stop by your own decision?)
Belay Bekele: አዎ አቁሜ በቃ በዛ እንግዲ ያንን እኛም በማናውቀው ስለሆነ ስለ ብዙ ሰው እየታሰረ ስለነበረ እኔ በቃከዛ በኋላ ጥዬ ሄድኩኝ። (Yes I stop by my own decision because with the reason we don’t know there was a lot of people was going to jail so I stopped and go.)
Translator: I couldn’t say I retire from military because
…I just stopped of the imperial guard I was in imperial guard so I just stopped military at the year of 1960.
Interviewer: 1960? Okay you didn’t know much about Korea before now you know Korea. What is Korea to you? What is Korea to you personally?
Translator: ያኔ ወደ ጦርነቱ ሲሄዱ ስለ ኮሪያ ምንም የሚያውቁት ነገር አልነበረም እና አሁን ግን ስለ ኮሪያያውቃሉ ኮሪያ ለርሶ አሁን ምንድናት? (That time when you go to the war you didn’t know about Korea but now you know about Korea what is Korea to you?)
Belay Bekele: ጥሩ ጥሩ ነች ጥሩ ነው ኮሪያ። (Korea is good for me)
Translator: Korea for me she is good.
Interviewer: Next year will be 70th anniversary of the Korean War do you have any special message to Korean friends?
Translator: የሚቀጥለው ዓመት 70ኛው ክብረ በዓል ነው ያውቃሉ አይደለ? እና ለኮሪያ ህዝብ ማለትየሚፈልጉት እና ማስተላለፍ የሚፍልጉት መልዕክት ምንድነው? (Next year is 70th anniversary of the Korean war you know right? So did you have any special message to Korean friends?
Belay Bekele: እዛም ላይ ለመገኘት እችል ይሆናል የአሁኑንንም 69ኛው አክብሬ ነው የመጣሁት አሁንየሄድነውም ሁለታችን ለሱ በዓል ነው የሄድነው።
…አዎ መልዕክቱ ያው እንግዲ በዛ ጊዜም እዛ ላይ ተገኝቼ አከብር ይሆናል በዓሉን።
Translator: I hope I will celebrate the 70th because I was there to celebrate the 69th of the celebration so I hope I will be there.
Interviewer: What would you say to Ethiopia young children who doesn’t know about the Korean War?
Translator: ስለ ኮሪያ ጦርነት ስለማያውቁት ስለ ወጣት ኢትዮጲያን ልጆች ምን ማለት ይፈልጋሉ ማስተላለፍየሚፈልጉት ነገር? (What did you want to say for young Ethiopian children about the Korean War?)
Belay Bekele: ጦርነቱ በሰላም አልቆ ሃገሪቱ ጥሩ ሆና የትኛውም ሃገር ህዝብ እዛ ተቀብለው ሲያስተምሩ ቦታሰተው ቤት ሰተው እዛ ብዙ ሰዎች ብዙ አፍሪቃውያኖች አይቻልሁ እዛ እንደውም ተቀብለዋቸው በጥሩ ሁኔታእንደሚያስተዳድሯቸው አይችሃለሁ ያነው እንግዲ እና ሁሉንም እየተቀበሉ ስለሆነ ጥሩ
…ስራ ነው የሚሰሩት ማለቴ ነው። (The war stopped and the country become in good shape and seeing accepting people from different country even giving them house, place I see that so they are doing very good thing for people now.)
Translator: So what they trying to say is that Korea is never forgot what we have done for them so I see that Korean people are helping back the Ethiopians also so what I want to say for the young generation Korea never forgot what we have done for them.
Interviewer: That is great. Great comment thank you so much. And as a grandson of Korean War Veteran did you have anything to say to Korean people?
Grandson: I am very proud that my grandfather went to this such good country because the things that you are doing you never forgot what he did for you, the blood sacrifice he did for you, the life sacrifice that he did for you, and you are still now trying to help the government the Korean Veterans and I am very proud to be to be connected to you through my grandfather
…and I am very happy for that.
Interviewer: Excellent. All right thank you so much sir and great to meet you grandson.
Grandson: Thank you.
Translator: በጣም እናመሰግናለን ስላገኘሆት ደስ ብሎኛል። (Thank you so much it is great to meet you.)
Interviewer: Bye Bye.
[End of Recorded Material]