Charles Gregory Caldwell
Charles Gregory Caldwell, inspired by John F. Kennedy, served in the Peace Corps in Korea beginning in the summer of 1970 through December 1973. While there, he lived among the Korean people and taught English at the Jeongeub Boys’ Middle School in Jeongeub, Jeollabukdo. In December 2013, he was appointed Honorary Counsel for the Republic of Korea in Northern Oregon. Through this position, he works to improve ties between his home state of Oregon and the Republic of Korea especially as it relates to trade, business, science, education, and culture. He works closely with the Korean Society of Oregon, the Port of Portland, the Korean Intermarried Women’s Association, and many chapters of the Korean War Veterans Associations across Oregon.
From Peace Corps to Honorary Counsel
Charles Gregory Caldwell shares he served in the Peace Corps in Korea. He remembers the impact that the Peace Corps had on his life. He recalls how after serving three years in the Peace Corps in Korea, he was appointed and confirmed by both the U.S. government and the Korean government as Honorary Counsel for the Republic of Korea in Northern Oregon. He explains the duties of this position.
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Why the Peace Corps
Charles Gregory Caldwell explains he was inspired by John F. Kennedy to join the Peace Corps. He shares he saw the program as an opportunity to travel as well as a means of potentially avoiding the draft during the Vietnam War. He recalls how his service in the Peace Corps deferred his service in the Vietnam War. He explains how after two years in the Peace Corps he asked for an extension for a third year which was granted.
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Joining the Peace Corps
Charles Gregory Caldwell shares the process of joining the Peace Corps. He recalls requesting an assignment in a warm place. He remembers Korea was not necessarily on the top of his list, but in the end, he chose to go to Korea following extensive training in Denver, CO.
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Heading to Korea to Learn
Charles Gregory Caldwell notes that his parents supported his work with the Peace Corps. He recalls his travels and arrival in Korea. He stresses that as a Peace Corps volunteer he was not there to help the Korean people and change their lives. He explains volunteers were there to learn from the Korean people and help with whatever they could do. He shares lived among the people, learned from them, and taught them what he could. He recounts how he spent much of his time in Korea teaching English as a Second Language.
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Life in Korea
Charles Gregory Caldwell explains he arrived in Korea and quickly learned lessons of appropriate cultural practices and manners. He recalls how, while teaching in Jeongeub, he lived in a low class motel for the two years. He notes that his room was quite small and shares details of his living conditions. His explains his primary duties as an educator centered on teaching seventh grade English with seventy-two students in each class. He offers details about the students he taught.
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Life of a Peace Corps Teacher
Charles Gregory Caldwell shares he taught English to Korean boys at the Jeongeub Boys' Middle School in Jeongeub, Jeollabukdo. He details what a typical school day was like for him and how he went about instructing his students in English. He recalls, at one point, wondering exactly why he was teaching them English as he feared they would never use it again except for acceptance into high school.
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Challenges of Living In Korea
Charles Gregory Caldwell shares the challenges of working in Korea. He recalls medical issues that many people living in Korea, foreigner and natives alike, typically faced. He shares he found his time in Korea most rewarding as it opened the world to him and changed his career path.
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[Beginning of Transcribed Material]
I: It’s the beautiful city of Wilsonville in the state of Oregon. My name is Jungwoo Han. I am the President of World History Digital Education Foundation that focuses on the Korean History, Culture, Economy, Geography, anything but the Korean War as a legacy of the Korean War. It’s my great pleasure and honor to meet you, sir. Please introduce yourself. What is your name, sir?
C: My name is Charles Gregory Caldwell.
I: So, your first name is Charles.
C: Charles. And I go by my middle name, but which causes problems sometimes. But yeah, Charles Gregory Caldwell.
I: Could you spell your full name?
C: It’s CHARLES
I: Um hm.
C: Gregory is GREGORY Caldwell, CALDWELL.
I: What is your birthday, sir?
C: My birthday is August 9, 1948.
I: Forty-eight. That makes you.
C: Almost 74.
I: Seventy, almost.
C: I’m 70, well next August I’ll be 74.
I: It’s coming.
I: You look terrific. Now you have some wrinkles when you laugh.
But I don’t see any.
C: Thank you.
I: Is there any secret?
I: No secret formula?
I: You eat Kimchi?
C: Of course.
I: So, is there a place to buy Kimchi here?
C: You can buy Kimchi anywhere, in any of the stores here.
I: And where were you born?
C: I was born in North Carolina, in Newton, North Carolina.
C: Yeah, NEWTON.
I: Um hm.
C: But I grew up in Maiden, North Carolina. Newton was the nearest hospital. But I grew up in Maiden, MAIDEN, North Carolina.
I: So, tell me about your family background when you were growing up, your parents and your siblings.
C: Well, we were a small family of four. My father came from a family of 10. My grandmother lived right up the street from us. And so, we stayed in Maiden for many years.
And I have one sister, a younger sister who’s five years younger than I am. My dad worked in construction and as a long-distance truck driver, mostly on the East coast as far West as Chicago. And he was, you know, home for several days, and then he would go on trips for several days. My mom was a crosswalk guard at the school right in front of our house.
C: And she did that for many years. And she became a policewoman in the little town of Maiden where we were.
C: It was, mostly she just walked around in her uniform. But that’s what they did.
I: Community patrol.
C: Yes. And it was a very small town.
I: Uh huh.
C: Only 500 hundred people.
I: Um hm.
C: Very small town.
I: And tell me about your educational background, high school, when did you graduate and so on please.
C: Yeah. I went to grade school right across the street from my house. And then high school, I used to walk there within a mile at Maiden High School in Maiden, North Carolina.
I: Maiden High School.
C: Yeah, Maiden.
I: And, when did you graduate?
C: I graduated in 1966.
I: Nineteen sixty-six.
C: Right. And then I went to Mars Hill College after that.
I: Could you spell it?
C: Yeah. MARS Hill, HILL, College. Well, now it’s a university.
But then it was Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, North Carolina. It was a small Baptist College cause we grew up in the Baptist church. And so yeah. I went to Mars Hill. I majored in English. And I, so, yeah. I graduated in 1970.
I: Nineteen seventy.
I: So, tell me about your awareness on anything related to Korea at the time, by the time that you graduated from high school. Did you know anything about Korea?
C: I knew very little about Korea except that my uncle served in the Korean War.
I: Your uncle?
C: Yes, he did.
I: What’s his name?
C: His name was Fred, I don’t know his middle name, but Fred Caldwell.
And he was in Korea. I don’t know any of the details. He’s passed away now. But he was my dad’s youngest brother.
C: And so, all I knew was he was in Korea. That’s all I knew. I didn’t know where really where Korea was or didn’t think about it at that time.
I: That means that you were not taught anything about Korea during your high school days.
C: No, nothing that I remember at all.
I: Did you have a World History class?
C: Well, we had World History. But usually that was a more modern part of history. And many times, we never got to that, you know. They were behind in classes or whatnot. So, we never got to, I don’t remember anything about learning about the Korean War.
I: Do you remember, were there any texts mentioning about Korea in World History textbook?
C: I don’t remember that.
I: You don’t remember. So, you didn’t know where Korea was on the map.
C: Well, probably not at that time when I graduated from high school, yeah.
I: That’s amazing.
I: I mean, your uncle, and it’s exactly the same question that I’m asking to Korean War veterans. Did you know anything about it? Did you learn anything about Korea from your History class, and they say, 99.99% say no.
C: Yeah. I would agree with that. And my uncle never talked about it. I mean, when my uncle would come to visit, he never talked about Korea.
C: So, it’s just something that we, that never really came up in conversation. A lot of Korean War veterans don’t really like to talk about the Korean War.
I: Exactly. That’s why it’s been know as Forgotten.
C: Right, right.
I: So, the Korean War broke out in 1950.
And you graduated high school in 1966, 60 years apart. But that fact, that no awareness of Korea was ever during your high school, I mean, the education, not just you but almost every American citizen around the time was also the case as was the Korean War veterans.
C: Probably so. And I had not traveled, you know, growing up, we had gone to Canada.
I: Um hm.
C: That was my only international experience. I:
I: Uh huh. What brought you to Canada?
C: My dad just wanted, took us up there. We drove up to Canada and did a little touring there. And we did travel around the United States. I mean, Kentucky and different places we traveled around to Florida and what not. But I had never really, except for Canada,
I’d not been overseas at all and didn’t have much exposure. Now when I was in Senior year I guess it was of college, I was chosen to go to Puerto Rico for about two weeks with a group of students. And we went down there to see, I think it was called Operation Boot Strap where they were pulling their country up and whatnot. But I really didn’t have much exposure to anything international.
C: Even though I will say that I was always interested after John F. Kennedy mentioned the Peace Corp, when he started that. That, to me, was very interesting.
I: So, before we go into that portion, you are sitting with the Korean flag behind you and the Stars and Stripes, and you are the honorary counsel of Korea in Oregon, representing Oregon, and you’ve been to Korea as a Peace Corp volunteer.
I: And you were also a Full Bright Scholar.
C: I was.
I: So, that’s a kind of metamorphosis. It’s like a transformation from knowing nothing on Korea. But now you are representing Korea here.
C: That’s true.
I: Tell me about it. What do you think about such a radical change in your life?
I: How do you put into perspective, and how do you think about it?
C: Well, I think about, I mean I know that going to the Peace Corp changed my life in many, many different ways.
It made me much more aware of the world. It gave me insight into other cultures. It gave me insight into the fact that not everyone thinks the way that Americans do, you know.
I: Um hm. That’s very important knowledge.
C: Yeah, it’s very important. And so really that experience changed my life. It made me much more of an internationally minded person.
And it was not an easy thing to do, you know, living in Korea at the time. We’ll go over that, I’m sure, later. But it was not, it was a poor country. And it was not easy. But it was one of the best experiences of my life.
I: Um hm. So, could you briefly describe about your role as an honorary counsel in Oregon, and how did you become, and what is the process, just briefly.
And what do you do?
C: Well, the process, it’s a dual appointment between Korea, and it has to be approved by the U.S. State Department. It took about 14 months.
I: Very official then, right?
I: It’s not just being appointed by Korean Consulate in
I: Oregon or Seattle.
C: You have to, there was a, I was nominated by the previous Honorary Counsel.
I: Uh huh.
C: And there were, I think, three candidates for the position. And we were interviewed by him. And then we met with members of the Korean community here in Oregon.
C: To kind of, what do you think of this guy and so forth. And then the, I think it was mostly handled by the Consulate in Seattle. And I told you that they chose Susan Cox who’s my counterpart in Southern Oregon, my comrade in arms, I guess.
C: And so, we were selected. And it took four months for the Korean government to okay it.
C: And then it took 10 months for the U.S. government to agree. And so, it was a long process.
I: Very rigorous process.
C: Yeah. And I guess they did background checks and things like that. But I don’t really know. It was kind of secretive.
I: So, what do you do as an Honorary Counsel?
C: Well, I work with a lot of different groups. Our main thing is to improve ties or make ties between Oregon and Korea, especially in terms of trade, business, science, education and culture. And so, I work with many different groups.
I work quite often with the Korean Society of Oregon. I work with a lot of veterans, Korean War veterans. That’s really where I first started meeting them. And there are several groups, probably four or five groups that I work with. There’s the Korean War Veterans Association, Oregon Trail Chapter.
There was a Salem Chapter. There’s one in Vancouver. I do cross the border over to Vancouver even though that’s not my territory. But they’re much closer to us than Seattle. And then I work, the Chosen Few, and there’s a Southern Oregon group as well. So, the ones in this area, I go to many of their meetings and work with them. And we’re doing an Interpretive Center now at the Korean War Memorial.
We’ve raised about $175, $185,000 for the Memorial, the Interpretive Center. And I work with a couple school groups that send students on an exchange with Korean schools. I work with Port of Portland, for example. And they have a Korean shipping company that comes here twice a week. I, let’s see, what else do I,
Just various groups like, oh. We have Kimwa which is the Korean Intermarried Women’s Association. They are married with American men who are here. They do a lot of social work for projects that we do. I work with the Korean Language; they have a Korean language program with KSO. I work with them a bit.
We’ve tried to start some Korean language programs in the schools. We’ve only done that with one. And so, I just work with a lot of different groups. Oh, we have, for example, I work with three nations events, China, Japan and Korea. Each year we have an annual event that features music or dance or something from all three different cultures.
Sometimes we will have the Korean, what’s it called, National Day. We’ve done that in Portland a number of times. I went with the AT Creek students who have the exchange with Korea. And I went with them to Korea and spent a couple weeks with them there. It’s a fantastic experience. So, I just work with a lot of different groups that have things, connections to Korea or creating connections.
I: Sounds like more of a full-time job.
C: Well, yes.
I: Did you know that you were going to consume so much of your time. And obviously you must have spent your own money for all of this, right?
C: Well, a lot of it. We get $2,500 per year.
I: Per year, not per month.
C: Per year.
C: And I spend anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000. So, it’s not a money maker.
I: So, you volunteer for spending your own money for Korea.
I: That’s amazing.
C: Well, yes. We do that for, you know, I’ve given $5,000 to the Interpretive Center and different things. So yeah.
I: Are you still happy about your role?
C: Yes, very happy.
C: They’ve asked me to continue.
C: And I said I will continue, but I may not finish the five-year program, you know.
If I am too pressed or if I can’t do it anymore, I would have to resign.
I: No, you have a lifetime appointment. And by the way, I want to thank you for everything you have done for the Korean War Legacy Foundations interview trip of the Korean War veterans. It’s the most well-organized and well-raised the trip from my Foundation’s perspective because you have done all those things.
So, I really appreciate what you’ve been doing.
C: Thank you.
I: It’s my honor, sir. And thank you for everything. And I’m looking forward to meeting with the veterans who have really been the foundation of this metamorphosis of two countries.
I: You mentioned about Kennedy. And I think that’s the kind of trigger point where that you didn’t know anything about Korea. But now you are Honorary Counsel.
C: Uh huh.
I: Tell me about 19606’s growing up as a high school student and going to college.
And what was the kind of things that you would characterize as kind of features of American society in the 60’s and 70’s?
C: Well, when I was in high school, I remember the Beatles becoming very popular.
I: Oh, I just watched the Paul McCartney concert.
I: I was disappointed because he didn’t sing many Beatles songs.
I: But mostly Wings, you know.
I: But anyway, yes.
C: But I remember the Beatles.
I had never heard of them. And then all of the girls in the school suddenly knew about them, and it was just everywhere. Everything was about the Beatles. Viet Nam, of course, was beginning at that time in 1966. And that was a big worry for a lot of people. I had a couple of classmates who did go to Viet Nam after high school. And two of them were killed in Viet Nam.
And of course, the 60’s was free, you know, everything, free love, free
C: Yeah, hippies. Hippy types were, yeah. That was going on at the time.
I: Were you influenced by that?
C: Not really.
I: Not really, right?
C: Not really.
I: And what is it? Why did you decide to join the Peace Corps.?
C: Well, as I said, I heard John Kennedy talking about Peace Corps. And I had never really had the chance to travel as I said, very much. And I was, I don’t know why I was fascinated by that. But it was also because I did not really want to go to Viet Nam to fight because some of my classmates had died. And I didn’t really believe in that War very much.
So, when I finished college, we had the lottery, you know, when I was in college. And I got a low number. And my three best friends all got a high number. So, they didn’t have to
I: What does that mean, high and low number?
C: Well, they picked 365 days of the year. And then they chose the numbers from, so these people, the first 100 people, have to go or 100 a day.
I: Go to war?
C: Well, they have to go to the draft.
C: Yes. And so that’s, and I had a low number. And my other friends all had high numbers. So, I really wasn’t excited abut going to Viet Nam. And so, I applied for Peace Corps. And it wasn’t only to get out of Viet Nam. I definitely was always interested in Peace Corps.
So, what happened was I decided to apply for Peace Corps. I got that finally. And they did a deferment. So, they said you can go to Peace Corps for two years. But then when you come back, you have to go into the service. And so, Peace Corps, at the time, that was all okay, legal, and people were doing that.
And so that came through. And that’s how I went into Peace Corps. And then on the third year that I was there, about two years in, I asked for an extension because they were still having the draft. And that was a little more difficult, but I was in Korea, and they let me do it for a year, again saying when you come back, you have to go to the draft.
So I went home on break, and they let us go. After two years, you could go home for one month. I went home on break. And while I was home in North Carolina on break going back to Korea, expecting to, President Nixon ended the draft while I was at home. But I went back to Korea anyway.
C: Well, because I felt, I had a good time in Koea. And I enjoyed Korea. And I was learning a lot.
And I had promised to go back. So, I decided that’s what I would do.
I: What did you want to become before you joined the, what was your lifetime sort of goal and wish?
C: Well, my parents wanted me to be a minister. Yeah. And I studied religion for a while when I got to college. But then I decided no. I didn’t want to do that. And they didn’t really object so much to that.
So, I changed my major to English. And I became an English major. And that was mainly based on two teachers that I had who were very good and made, you know, they influenced me some, too, in my life.
I: Um hm. So, please tell us about the whole process of you joining the Peace Corps, when, where, what kind of training. And one of the main questions is, were you able to choose the country that you wanted to go?
And if not, was Korea kind of a surprise to you? Be honest about that. And so please tell me all about the whole process.
C: Well, I applied, I think, in my senior year. It was a pretty rigorous process. Of course, back then we didn’t have that many computers and things like that. We had none, I think. But so, there was a lot of paperwork to do.
They asked us on the form where we would like to go. And I put down all warm countries. And
I: Like the Maldives?
C: Well, I think the Caribbean, Tahiti area. Those kinds of things. Maybe, I don’t think Thailand was on there. And then I don’t know. They, there was timing to this because you know, sometimes, I was graduating.
So, one of the first programs I guess, for example, maybe if you wanted to go to Tahiti for example, you might have to wait another year. So, I think timing had something to do with it. But they didn’t really pay much attention. I don’t know anyone in our group who put Korea down as their choice. I think it’s like in the service. They say where, you say you wanna be a mechanic, and they say you’re gonna be a cook, whatever.
So, that’s how it happened. So, then they, right after college or maybe during my senior year, I was accepted into the Peace Corps. And it was not an easy process. I remember thinking that I might not qualify because Peace Corps, at the time, was you know, fairly new.
Well, I guess not. But it was pretty stringent, you know, to get into it.
I: What kind of qualifications do you need?
C: Well, you have to be a graduate
I: Right, college.
C: A college graduate.
I: College. And?
C: And you have to have
I: With a GPA 4.0?
C: No, I don’t, they never spelled that out. You had to put all that information in there. But they didn’t say it was based on GPA. But I had a good GPA. I wasn’t worried about that.
So then, they had this pre-invitational staging. They wrote to me and said we’re inviting you to come to Denver, Colorado to this pre-invitational staging. And it’s about Korea. So, I started looking about Korea, you know, in books and whatnot. And then I
I: Were you disappointed?
C: No, not really disappointed.
I: Be honest.
C: No. I wasn’t disappointed.
I just, no, I wasn’t disappointed. I chose to go. I mean, I could have said no.
I: Um hm.
C: And they might have sent us to another
I: Oh, I see. You had a
C: invitational staging. Oh yes. Not everybody that went to the Korean Invitational Staging went to Korea. So, it was very interesting. I met, there were maybe four or five groups that I didn’t see.
But we had a group maybe of 20 people who flew into Denver. And some of them actually turned out to be in my group later. And we had several days, maybe three or four days, of Kimchi, you know. They introduced Kimchi. I remember what is that smell? That was our first reaction.
And they had someone, you know, playing Korean music and some people talking and talking about ESL, teaching English as a second language. But it was mostly just kind of a quick introduction to Korea. So, then we left that, and I was selected.
I: When was it?
C: That was in the summer sometime, I think, or summer of 19
C: Seventy-three. No. I take that back. No. It was the summer of 1970, yes. Cause I just graduated.
So, I graduated in May probably, and we went to training in September.
I: For how long?
C: About 3 ½ months.
C: And that was in New Jersey at Mar Town, New Jersey in a convent, a converted convent. We had, you know, we were very busy there. We had five hours of Korean language every day.
And that was really tough. And then we had some ESL work. There was a teacher from Farley Dickinson University.
C: Who was a teaching specialist. And she would come. But most of the training was about language because it’s so important, you know, once you get there. So, but there was some ESL work. We did go to some schools in Newark, New Jersey to do some practice teaching a couple times.
And then there were things like how to learn how to use chopsticks for example, you know, and those kinds of things. But it was mostly language.
I: So, were you able to speak Korean before you left?
C: It was tough. Yes. We passed the test.
C: We had to have a test and interview and whatnot. But I think I learned most of my Korean in Korea, definitely.
I mean, they gave us the basics and whatnot.
C: And I’m not a good language learner. Some people are much better than I am. And so it was tough. I remember going to my first class. And the teacher said, everything was in Korean. And she said (SPEAKING KOREAN). And I’m like what? And then all the other people were (SPEAKING KOREAN).
And I thought oh my God. I’m in a
I: You’re the only one.
C: I’m the only one. So, it was tough. There was a lot of repetition, you know. (SPEAKING KOREAN) and (SPEAKING KOREAN). And that’s how they did a lot of teaching at the time. So, it was, but it was rigorous.
I: You’re pretty good. So, (SPEAKING KOREAN)?
C: (SPEAKING KOREAN)
I: (SPEAKING KOREAN)
C: (SPEAKING KOREAN)
I: (SPEAKING KOREAN)
C: (SPEAKING KOREAN)
I: (SPEAKING KOREAN) And so that comes from must have been from Caldwell.
C: Caldwell, yes. Same, yeah.
I: You’re pretty good, sir. We can go on in Korean for this interview. So, when did you leave for Korea, from where?
C: Okay. We left, after training in Mars Town, they gave us maybe two weeks off or a week, something like that.
So, I flew back to North Carolina, said goodbye to my family.
I: By the way, what was your parents’ reaction to your decision to go to Korea?
C: My parents were always supportive of everything I did. So, there was no, they weren’t bemoaning the fact that I was going to Korea.
I: You were not going to war. So,
C: Right. Yeah. So, they, yeah, they were always very supportive of anything that I wanted to do.
I: Um hm.
C: So, I went back to North Carolina. And with a friend we flew to Columbus, Ohio and stayed with one of our Peace Corps group who was living there. Then we got on a plane in Columbus and went to Chicago and in Chicago, we got on a 747, you know. It was brand new. It was like, I think it started in maybe March of that year.
And so, we got on a 747, flew to Seattle and from Seattle to Tokyo because everything had to go through Japan. So, you could not fly directly to Korea. So, we flew there. We spent one night in Tokyo because you had to, that’s the way it was. And then we flew from Tokyo into Seoul.
C: Into Kimpo Airport. And it was very, there were some very strange things about it because for example,
It was under kind of military rule at the time. And so, as we were flying in, in January, a very cold time, and you could see, everything was brown, just brown. That’s all it was. And then they said everybody must pull down the shades because they were afraid for people taking pictures of military installations and things like that. So, everybody had to pull down the shades before landing at Kimpo.
So, we landed in Kimpo. It was pretty late in the evening, I think, when we got there.
C: January, very cold.
I: Date, remember?
C: I don’t remember the exact date. It was probably around the 15th of January of 1971.
I: Um hm.
C: And then the ride in, we took a bus and rode into Yongwon near (INAUDIBLE).
And it was very gray and dark. I remember that.
I: So, you have a very sort of gloomy, negative, kind of image of Korea.
C: I mean, it was gloomy, right. I don’t know that it was negative. You know, one of the things about Peace Corps training that I thought was very good, and I didn’t think it registered to me at the time. But it did. You know, they said look.
We’re not going to Korea to help Koreans. I mean, it’s not like that we’re their saviors, you know, and we’re going there to help Korean people and change their life or something like that. They said no, you’re going there to learn, you know. And you’re going there to help whatever you can do. But you’re not like their savior, you know. You’re not gonna go over there and tell them this is the way we do it in America, and you need to do it this way.
No. You’re going there to live with the people, learn from them, teach them what you can do, you know, when you can help them teaching English or something like that. And so, I thought that was good because when I went overseas to China with some Lewis and Clark students, I found that, you know, a couple of them felt oh, I’m going over there to change China and teach them how to do things. And I thought that was a bad attitude.
I: Um hm.
I: It’s a very important point. So, can you describe the major goals of Peace Corps Volunteer program, why did American government launch the program. And why do you think it’s radically different from the experience of missionary or the mission of the missionaries of Christian churches in late 19th centuries and early 20th century to countries like Korea from the Peace Corps volunteer.
What is the major goal, and why is it different, and how different?
C: There are three goals. The first is to provide trained manpower in whatever area the foreign country needs. And I guess Korea decided that they needed to learn English, and I’ll talk about that later. But
I: So, it had to be approved and accepted and requested by the receiving country.
C: What do you want the volunteers to do?
So, in Korea, it was mainly English teaching at the college level and the middle school level. It was Poginso, you know, the Help Center.
C: TB control.
C: Yes. And there was, what is it, Leprosy?
C: And there were agricultural programs that people went to.
And there was some community service things, like maybe helping with markets or something like that.
I: Contraception, birth control, things like that?
C: I don’t remember that very much.
C: Mostly, most of the Help Center workers were in TB that I knew of.
I: TB, yeah.
C: And so to provide manpower is one. Then secondly is for us to be good examples of what Americans are like and help the Koreans understand what Americans are like, you know,
That we’re regular people. And then the third goal is to help Americans when we come back understand about Korea.
I: Um hm.
C: So, those are the three goals, just better understanding reciprocally, between
I: Of each other.
I: But it wasn’t like, you know, Kennedy Administration forcing another country to upset the Peace Corps and trying to plant the American culture.
C: No. In fact, we were told, that’s not what we were there for. We were not there to be, you know, to try to convert people to anything.
I: So, that’s the real difference between missionaries and
C: It’s not the only difference, you know, cause I grew up in the church. And we talked about Lottie Moon who was in China. And every year, they had fundraising for Lottie Moon and whatnot.
And so, I had a very good impression of what missionaries did, you know.
I: Um hm.
C: That was my thought about it. Well, when I went to Korea, I met a lot of missionaries, or some missionaries. And I thought that they would live like the people.
C: But they didn’t. They lived in compounds. They lived in America’s dollhouses. Many of them had American food, you know. They drove cars which nobody did.
I: It’s like extraterritoriality in Korea.
C: And I was very surprised at that. I told my parents, I said you know, we hear about Lottie Moon offering every year. And they don’t live like the people. Peace Corps, you live like the people. So, that was shocking to me. And so, you know,
I: So, that’s a radical difference. So, meaning that you are almost like assimilated into the Korean life.
And the first time I knew that I was assimilated finally, it took some time, was when we were in the (INAUDIBLE) one time and teachers were all talking.
C: (INAUDIBLE). And they were talking about something that the US government had done. I’ve forgotten what it was. And they were talking about the (SPEAKING KOREAN)
C: They were talking, and I’m sitting there, but they didn’t even see me as a (KOREAN). They saw me as just another teacher.
C: So, I felt, in some way, I felt honored.
I: So, you were not (KOREAN) by then. (KOREAN) is like a little bit of
C: It’s very negative.
I: Negative way to call Yankee or something in the Korean setting.
I: Yeah. So, you (INAUDIBLE)
C: And I felt good about that.
I: (MICROPHONE SHUT OFF)
I: Since you mentioned about life there, from (INAUDIBLE) to low level of hotel at the time in 1970, and where did you (MICROPHONE) Tell me about the whole process and how did you, I mean, were you paid there in Korea or not? What about medical coverage, health issues, all those things.
C: Okay. Well, I arrived, we were in Seoul, my Principal and co-teacher took the bus, you know, to Seoul, and they picked me up and took me back to (INAUDIBLE). I was in (KOREAN). From Seoul.
I: From Seoul to (INAUDIBLE)?
C: No. We were in Seoul for about probably three weeks doing.
I: What did you do?
C: More language training,
Just kind of training. I don’t remember exactly, and they had not really placed everybody. They were still placing people. Okay, you’re going to Chungup. You’re going to Kimche, wherever you’re going. And so, we never understood all that or how they chose anybody to go to one place. I think that there were some women who they tried to place in larger cities.
And then, so I don’t know really the ins and out of all that. But anyway, that was my, I’ll tell you this little story too. On my first bus ride down to Chungup, I had some cookies or something that we’d bought or whatever. And so, I was sitting, I think I was sitting on the window. And then my co-teacher was sitting there, and the principal was sitting across the aisle.
And so, I took the cookies out, and I offered it to my co-teacher. And he was horrified.
C: No, you have to offer it to the (KOREAN).
C: You know, first. And so, and he was like scolding me, you know, a little bit about you have to give it to him first. And, because of hierarchy. I mean, I’m sure they told us a little bit about that. But they didn’t dwell on it very much.
But that was my first lesson. So, when we got to Chungup, they put me, the schools were in charge of finding a place for you to live. And Mr. Koh, Mr. Uh who was my co-teacher, lived right beside the Yowan. So, he had contacted them and talked with them. And so, I did [Hutuship], you know, like long-term stay. In fact, I lived there for two years.
And he, my room was very small. Probably I could just barely lay down one, it was probably, I’m 5’7”. It was probably 6’ wide and maybe 8’ long, very, very small, ondol, you know, heating with charcoal.
I: Floor heating.
C: Floor heating with charcoal. And then every night, they would change the charcoal and you know, sometime during the evening and things like that.
C: So, I, and it was a very small room. We slept on the floor with the ondol, I mean with a (Yo and Ebo), and a quilt and whatnot. And that never bothered me. The pillow as a rice pillow or rice-filled or husk-filled. And then you were asking about pay and stuff. So, we got the same pay as a teacher. Yeah. So, my co-teacher and I would get the same pay. And then the school paid, or we’d get it in minus our (KOREAN), our rental.
And then, I think in Peace Corps, they gave us over the course of two or three years, they put money in the bank of about like $2,000.00 for us when we came back. Yeah. But no. We lived like the Koreans.
I: Um hm. But what did you do then in Chungup?
C: In Chungup, I taught seventh grade, what is it, (KOREAN), right?
C: And we had 72 students in each class.
C: And, it was kind of an unheated classroom. There was heat. There was one little stove that had two charcoal briquets in it. That didn’t heat very much. And the students wore uniforms. They could wear anything under the uniforms.
I: Um hm.
C: Underwear, long underwear or whatever. But they had to wear the uniform outside. They could not wear gloves. And it was, I don’t know, it was very, very tough at that time. Seventy-two people in the room. But very well disciplined, you know. It was not like, yeah. They were well disciplined. So, and then
I: I know.
C: I taught six classes. There were six classes.
I: Every day?
C: No, six (KOREAN), you know,
C: Through sixth. And then the smart class, they kind of ranked them. So, the smartest class was number six.
I: Uh huh.
C: And then I think we taught three times a week, one hour a week. I usually taught with a co-teacher. I had three different co-teachers over the years cause I was there three years: Mr. U, U Jong Hi. He was the first one.
And then Chayunghi. He was a graduate of Seoul National University, very smart guy. And then Mr., what was his name? I have to think. Oh, I can’t think of his name right now. But I had three different co-teachers. They were great in the fact that they would take me anywhere, you know.
If somebody was having baek-il, you know, the hundred-day birthday or something, okay. Let’s go to that. So, we would go, they would take me to that.
I: And there’s no, again, fish head.
C: Yeah, all kinds of. So then to a wedding. Somebody’s getting married or a teacher’s son, or somebody’s getting married, then we would go to the wedding. Or they would take, when I, yeah. They would, he said I’m going for acupuncture. Do you want to come and see what it’s like?
So, I would be taken to acupuncture. They would take me too. Sometimes we went to students’ homes, you know. And always, you know, the teachers were held in such high respect. So, the parents would just go all out, you know, with some food and drink and stuff like that. Or they would take, you know, we would go on field trips with the students to temples or rice planting day or tree planting day or those things.
So, I was just kind of one of the group. And that’s what we did.
I: Um hm.
I: How many hours per day that you had to teach?
C: Oh, we were there probably from 8:30, I think, 8:30 and probably went to about 5:00.
C: And half day Saturday.
I: Half day Saturday.
C: Half day Saturday.
I: So, it was from Monday to Saturday.
I: A lot of work.
C: But Saturday was just half day.
I: Um hm. Yeah.
I: So, tell me about.
C: And then the other thing I did was to teach a special class, (KOREAN)
C: You know. So, they chose, or I helped choose about 25 students from the six classes who were really eager and whatnot.
C: And so, I would teach special classes for them, usually in the morning, early morning. So, we would do that. And that would be maybe two or three times a week.
And that was great because they were really motivated to learn.
I: I remember I learned English in middle school. And we started like I’m a boy. You are a girl.
C: This is a book. This is a pen, yeah.
I: How was it? How were students that you think they were about English, and what was the typical way that you taught English there?
C: Well, a couple things about that. Okay. Teaching, we used kind of repetition in the book, and you would say this is a pen. And they would repeat or this kind of thing and write it on the board and whatnot. And that’s how we taught them. And then we would do dialogues, you know. I would call on one or two students, or they would do it as a class, you know.
What is your name? They would tell me the name or whatever. Every morning when we would go into the class, they would say good morning, sir, you know. And when you’re passing them in the street, they would always salute, you know. Teachers were held in such high regard. So that’s how we did it and usually with my co-teacher. So, that was good. Now what else was I gonna say about that?
Oh. I never, after I was there for about six to eight months, I felt why am I teaching these students English because they will never ever use it except maybe to get into the high school, you know, on an entry test. And so, it’s not like I gave up or anything. It’s just I kept thinking, you know, these little boys will never have the chance to travel, to do anything like that, you know.
And so, I thought it’s just kind of, I don’t know why they have to study English. But I was wrong. I mean, as I told you, you know. One of my students, Yung ho, he married an American. He went to a foreign language school, and he became a Vice President of SK. One of my students became a doctor. Pung du Won, he became a lawyer in Seoul.
And Mr. Puktomin, he has his own company. Charles Ju speaks very good English, became the President of Toshiba.
C: In Korea. And
I: See, that’s your teaching. You thought that they’re not gonna
C: Well, they do say, you know, they always, we still get together, and they always say well, you inspired us, you know, and whatnot.
So, it’s very nice to hear, very meaningful, yeah, as a teacher, yeah.
C: But I, you know, but at the time, you could not imagine that they would ever travel outside of Korea.
I: Korea, using English, right?
C: Yeah. Or just moneywise, you know. You would think because they were quite poor.
One of the students, when I went back home, was a very bright student. So, my family, we sent money so he could go to high school. And we got him through high school. We didn’t do college. But he’s the one who runs his own company. And then he went to work for Samsung and started his own company after that cause Samsung used to make cars. But then they ended that. So, he was in that division.
He kept the company that he had. And then he went to college at night. So, you know, education is very important to Koreans.
I: Um hm. So, you arrived here in January of 1971. And then when did you finish your hole mission as a Peace Corps volunteer?
C: December 1973. I was there three, four years, from January through December. But usually it’s two years.
But I extended, you know, one year.
I: During that whole time, were there kind of moments that you regretted being in Korea?
C: Oh yes.
I: Were there any kind of difficult things or something that you were really
C: Of course. I mean, anyone who goes to a foreign country, you know, you have the first six months where you’re all excited.
And then you know, you have the low period where sometimes you’re adjusting to those things. So, it was not easy, you know. It just wasn’t because there’s so many things that happen. So many cultural misunderstandings happen and make you feel bad. And you’re away from home. Oh, and to hear from my family, it took two weeks, 10 days to two weeks, you know. You would write an aerogram.
I think they had aerograms then. And then it would go, it would take two weeks to get there, two weeks to get back. So it was, you know, you were separated from family and whatnot. It was all different. But you worked through that period. You know, the life for me was the students, you know. And the Koreans. I mean, they were very welcoming and included me in some of their things.
So, but yes. There were difficult times. I had, you know. Oh, and you were asking about health care. We had a Peace Corps doctor. So, we would have to go, you know, before we left, we had maybe 20 shots for everything you could possibly think of, Japanese Bee Encephalitis, you know, everything.
I: Um hm.
And then when we got there, we would sometimes go see the doctor. I never really went to a Korean doctor. But I was never really that sick except we had worms. Everybody did. Sometimes (INAUDIBLE) And then they wanted me to come up to parasites, they wanted me to come up to Seoul and take this medicine, and they’d say you need to stay in Seoul. And I said no, I don’t wanna stay in Seoul. I want to go home and take the medicine.
And I did.
I: Why didn’t you want to stay in Seoul?
C: To me, it was just, I didn’t know, I wanted to be home.
C: And make sure I knew where I was. I mean, it was better to be at home.
I: That’s a (KOREAN). I remember parasite.
C: Oh yes.
I: Yeah. Everybody had it.
C: Yes, everybody had it. Yeah.
I: Because at the time, they used human waste as a fertilizer.
C: Night soil, yeah.
C: Yeah, exactly. And they told us in Peace Corps. You have to either peel it, boil it or what else, or you know, you have to cook it or something. You just couldn’t drink water. You couldn’t drink, except boiled water, those kinds of things.
I: What was the most rewarding moments that you remember? If I ask you to pinpoint one out of many, what would you say about your Peace Corps volunteer experience?
C: Well, I can’t think of an episode. I just think it opened up the world to me.
C: And it changed my career path. I wanted to be a teacher. But I never thought about English as a second language. So, when I went to graduate school at the University of Hawaii, I became an ESL major. That’s what I
I: After you were done with the Peace Corps?
C: After Peace Corps.
C: So, it just opened up the world as a world that I never knew about, you know, and how people think differently. And we got to travel when we were in Peace Corps during the school break. It was a tradition going around Southeast Asia. And so that was fun. But I think just the relationship with people was a highlight.
I: Um hm.
C: I suppose. That’s what I would say.
I: Um. So, let’s go to this sort of a comparison. This is the question that I used to ask the Korean War veterans because they were there in the 1950’s.
I: And they were re-invited back to Korea by the Korean government Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.
I: And so that they can be in a position to be able to compare what they saw in 1950 and now.
I: Around the time that you were there in 1970’s, it was under the military dictatorship of Park Chung Hee who also contributed to such a miraculous economic development in a very short time.
I: What did you feel about the Korean society at the time in the 1970’s, political, economic situations and so on?
C: Well, you know, we were in (INAUDIBLE)
C: So, people, especially in Seoul, would look down on people from Cholado.
C: And the development was not there and whatnot. Of course, they were not very supportive of Park Chung Hee. He came to, while I was there in 1972 or ’73, ’72 maybe, there was an election where he was actually running.
C: And he flew in by helicopter to the school next door. And of course, the school shut down. And they all went over there to see him. And the teachers were kind of grumbling, you know, about some of that. So, it was definitely, you know, it wasn’t a democracy at the time, right, even though they were trying to pretend that it was a democracy.
Now, he did a lot of good things for Korea. And I know some people today still, some like him, some don’t. But what he did, I always got the feeling he wasn’t like Marcos. To me, Marcos was just in it for himself.
C: Stealing from everything. I never heard that so much about Park Chung Hee. So, I think that he really wanted to help the country. He was not for the democratic process.
He was definitely a dictator. So, there are mixed feelings. We never talked much about politics when we were in Korea because we were told, you know, that wouldn’t be smart.
I: Um hm.
C: And so.
I: That’s the good and bad side of the present Park Chung Hee’s legacy.
I: But he’s the most popular President, you know, if you surveyed the Korean people.
C: Oh really?
I: Oh yeah.
I: So, I am a political scientist. I have a lot to say about what he did, good and bad. But we need to be really historically factual.
I: And try to be objective about this. And many, you know, independent countries after World War II had to go through all those military dictatorship and authoritative regime.
I: But Korea is one of all those countries that came out quite different.
C: And he was very protective of, you know, the Korean economy and basically self-sufficient. We want to be self-sufficient. You can’t have McDonald’s. You can’t have whatever, you know. And it was very smart, very smart policy.
I: So, called industrial policy and
C: Yeah. And that, you know, what (KOREAN)
I: New village movement.
C: New village movement.
You know, I thought at the time, that was a joke, you know. Every morning they would play the music. It would wake me up. Everybody would go out and do exercise.
C: And I know how ridiculous this is. But you know, in 10 years, I went back as a Fullbright Scholar. And I could not believe how the people had changed.
I: So, where did you go, what did you do as a Fullbright Scholar?
C: Well, I taught English Literature, no, English Composition at (INAUDIBLE)
C: In Chuncheon for a year, academic year. And that was very interesting to me, too because the students that I had, they were in college, first, second, third year maybe, many of them had never been to Toledo.
And I would say why not, you know, where I live, you know. Well, nobody goes down there, you know. And Koreans don’t travel that much inside the country. That always amazed me, you know. It’s a small country. But they don’t do that very much. And everything is centered in Seoul. And so, I encouraged them. I said you know, you should go to see your country and go to other parts of the country.
I found that very fascinating cause there’s definitely a lot of regionalism.
I: Absolutely. But at the time also, the transportation matters and lodgings and so on
I: So, there was no infrastructure. We were just worried about how are we going to be better and richer.
I: Yeah. So
C: I know getting to Seoul, now my friend in the Peace Corps, when we would meet, ai had a good friend David from Portland, Maine,
We would plan to go to Seoul at the same time. So, like once every five weeks or something we would go to Seoul for the weekend. And transportation, oh my goodness. It would take probably 5 ½ hours to get to Seoul. And now it takes probably less than two hours on the bullet train. And to go to the East coast, that would take oh, I don’t know, forever.
I: So now, this is one of the questions that I ask of the Korean War veterans. But you are in a little bit different sort of context because Korea kicked off its’ five-year economic development plan in 1962. By the ‘70’s, they were focusing on heavy chemical industry. But you’ve been back to Korea so many times, right?
I: So, give us perspective about Korea when you were there and Korea now.
And what are the things that you think this was possible. And had you ever imagined that Korea would become like this today?
I: Oh you, no?
C: No, not so dramatically and so quickly.
I: So, tell me about it. What are the differences?
C: Okay. Look it. When I was in Chungup living at Yowan, we had no running water and a pump. We had no refrigeration. There were two refrigerators in the town.
In a bakery. There was, no one had a car. Everybody traveled by bicycle. There was, you went to the (KOREAN), the bathhouse to go
I: Public bath.
C: Public house.
I: Did you go, too?
C: All the time. Well, I would go two times a week. Koreans would go once a month. But I would go two times a week, and they thought that was very strange.
And I had a friend in Peace Corps, a woman who went every day. But so, and television, they had black and white television, maybe four hours a day or something. They didn’t have it in the morning. They had it in late afternoon or something. No color tv. I mean, it was so, it was poor. And now, I mean, everything is so high tech. It’s like, it’s further ahead of us.
In Korea than we are, you know. So, it’s amazing now. It’s clean, you know. At the time, Korea was not all that clean. Everything’s sparkling now, you know. I think there’s a lot more emphasis on helping families, you know, supporting families and whatnot. A lot of things have changed, you know. The nuclear family has broken down.
And that’s, you know, cause the kids used to always take in the parents and stuff. And that’s kind of breaking down. A lot of parents don’t want to live together. Husbands are doing much more now in the home than they were then.
I: Yes, I do.
C: They have a role with the children which, you know, when I was there, the dad was never there. I mean, he never had anything to do with the kids except,
I mean, he would talk with them and everything. But he was, the mom ran the family, you know. And people had no money to do any kind of leisure activities except maybe hiking. But now there’s so many leisure activities in Seoul or in Korea, and families are much more of a smaller unit without so much the grandparents. But there’s, they do things together, the husband shares.
It’s not perfect. But you know, there’s more equality in that way now. And I think the Confucius system is breaking down a little bit. It used to be so rigid. And I know in the schools, cause I’ve been back to the schools, I’ve been amazed, not pleasantly, that there’s very little discipline in Korean schools now compared to what there was.
And teachers are not nearly as respected. You know, when the principal would get up to talk, you could hear a pin drop when I was there. Now, the principal’s up there talking to the students, and they’re talking everywhere. They’re not paying no attention. I was shocked with that.
I: You were lacking discipline.
C: Well, it’s different.
I: What do you think the Peace Corps volunteer program did for Korea?
C: Oh. Well, we would say it did very little, I think, as a Peace Corps volunteer. We would.
I: Don’t be too humble.
C: No. All I was gonna say, everyone that I’ve ever talked with said that it’s the toughest job you’ll probably ever love. That’s one thing that people have said that’s talking about Peace Corps.
But they well no. Ask the question again.
I: What do you think that the Peace Corps volunteer program did for Korea?
C: Yeah. Most of the volunteers would say that we gave, we got more from Korea or we received more from Korea than we gave. And you’ll hear that from just about every Peace Corps volunteer.
I: Like what?
C: I told you. We learned about other cultures, other countries. We learned that people don’t think the same that we do, that they have different views, that there’s more than one way to look at a situation. Koreans were always eager to improve. Education, they love education. And I have grown up to understand that education is very, very important in bringing people out of poverty and to changing their lives. And Koreans, you know, they support education in every way possible.
I think that’s very important. So, we learned, I mean, we learned to love another country. I love Korea. I’ve said that many, many times. And it changed my life.
I: Had you ever imagined that Korea would become the 10th largest economy in the world?
C: No. I did not. But I, after I went back to Korea 10 years later, I’m less surprised now about that because I could see the difference in 10 years.
I mean, people have cars, you know. Everybody had running water. Everybody had a different kind of heat. Oh, the bathrooms had all moved inside. That was the other thing, you know. So, that was shocking to me, that in 10 years that could happen. Oh, and the Chogachip, you know the strong-roofed homes, gone, you know. In 10 years, they were gone from (KOREAN). That was the only thing, yeah.
I: I went to Ethiopia to have an interview with Korean War veterans, and I was naturally thinking about New Village Movement
I: Maybe there.
C: Well, I’ve heard that it’s in other countries now.
I: Yeah. It’s through some sort of Quaker Program, you know.
C: Yeah. Well, and one other thing that I should mention too, is that you know, when I was there,
Korean had a curfew.
C: So, you had, at midnight, you had to be off the street, from midnight until four A.M. And if you were out and caught, you’d get in trouble. I never did that. I know other volunteers were out sometimes. I never did that.
I: You were behaving.
C: I was behaving, that’s true. And so that, you know, that went away. And 10 years when I came back, there was no curfew.
So, there were lots of changes in a very short time.
I: It looks like your experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Korea really dramatically changed the whole course of your life.
C: It did. And I learned that you need to have a cultural, kind of an informant, you know. And my co-teachers were very good about that.
Sometimes when I didn’t understand something or question something, they would try to explain it to me, in Korean terms, you know. But I think that’s very important. And when I came back to the United States and I was welcoming all these international students cause that’s what I was doing, in a way, I was their cultural informant for the United States because they had all kinds of questions.
They had all, a lot of things they didn’t understand or why do we do it this way or whatnot. So, I felt that I was their cultural informant. And I was very direct with them sometimes, you know. This is why we do this. And this is why we don’t do this, you know. Or people are interpreting, they’re seeing what you’re doing as negative. Or you’re not smiling enough. You’re not involved enough, whatever.
So that’s kind of what I did for 35 years.
I: As you know well, the Korean War has been known as forgotten because the Korean War by the end of 1953 was not a victory obviously.
I: It was a cease fire.
I: And Korea was (INAUDIBLE) to all these American GIs, American soldiers. And so, they didn’t even want to talk about it.
I: Yeah. And obviously China or Japan in the curriculum, in AP World History, for example, until 2016. There are about 20 copies for each, for China and Japan respectively
I: Well, there was no copy whatsoever about Korea.
I: Until 2016.
C: Um hm.
I: And now you are far from front line.
C: Um hm.
I: Talking about Korea, trying to promote the relations more strong and more productive.
C: Um hm.
I: What do you think we have to do to challenge this place of Korea in our educational
C: Well, that’s an interesting question. But I think Korea’s doing a pretty good job of it now.
C: Because you know, they are, what do they call that? It’s what kind of diplomacy do they call it?
I: Public diplomacy?
I: For the people?
C: Yeah. Public diplomacy and whatnot. They’ve always said, you know, we’re trying to do this, that and the other. So, in the beginning when they were advertising about Korean food or their Korean, now in the 29th of October, we’re going to do something about hanbok and stuff like that. In the beginning, I didn’t think that was gonna work. But it’s been very successful, you know.
They find something, like Korean food, and they promote it. And in subsequent years, you see that it’s made a difference. Or that would be one. Even with their advertising of their cars and, you know, Samsung and all these things that they’re doing, I think they’re doing a good job of it.
C: Like their movies and oh. A perfect example is the Korean dramas.
C: I hardly ever watch them. I’ve watched maybe two. But a lot of friends and people I know, they will have hundreds of those on their phone or whatever and are watching them. And it’s been something that’s swept the nation, you know. And that surprised me.
But that’s all kind of a public diplomacy. It’s kind of under the radar. But I think that has been very effective. BTS and all these things that they’re giving public support to in those ways, I think it makes a big difference. So, I think they’ve done a good job with that.
I: It’s been more than an hour, 1 ½ hours. But I can go another hour. But I think we have to wrap this up.
I think (INAUDIBLE) between Korean War veterans and Peace Corps volunteers about the way that they saw Korea in various years. And then what came out of your service and Korean War veterans, you know.
C: Um hm.
I: made Korea what it is right now. So, it’s amazing. I think it’s a good project for my Foundation to launch about documenting and learn more about the Peace Corps volunteer program for mutual understanding.
What would you say to Korean people or the students that you used to teach in the, you know, by 2026, U.S. will celebrate 250th anniversary of its’ founding (INAUDIBLE)
C: Um hm.
I: And my Foundation is working for promoting more of those curricular resources between these countries. What would you say to Korea and Korean people about your experience and for the future?
Kind of at the conclusion of this whole interview.
C: As I’ve said, I loved Korea. It changed my life. I still have lots of contacts there. I still see my students. They think that it was a wonderful experience to have a Peace Corps teacher there.
I think that there’s so many things now, so many opportunities for travel and for exchange across all kinds of disciplines. There’s, it’s opened up the world of both countries. So, you see a lot of interaction between Korea and America. It’s just not to the same, in the academic world, when you’re talking about Asia, it’s true.
It’s always China and Japan, and Korea is the third.
I: Um hm.
C: And I see that in every school, you know. Just about every school that you go to, if they have Asian Studies, it’s China, Japan and then Korea is kind of tacked on. If they could offer more programs I think, for educational institutions and whatnot, I think that would be good.
Programs that lead to long-term faculty positions rather than, often times it’s a three-year program. You put in half, we put in half. And then it ends because the American schools don’t have enough money.
C: And we did that with Portland State University.
C: And we raised half the money. The Korean government, Korea Foundation gave half the money.
And then we were hoping that the University would give, but they didn’t. And so it ends. And that, I think, is short-sighted.
I: That’s very good advice. You have any immediate plan or program to work on right now to see the, can you talk a little bit about interpretive.
C: Oh, the Interpretive Center?
C: Yeah. We, it’s here in this building. And it’s a small place. But the Korean War veterans wanted, you know, the monument out there is beautiful. But it’s static. And we thought that we need to have an explanation of what they’re going to see when they go out there. There are names on there, 298 names of people who passed away.
I: From Oregon?
C: From Oregon. But we want to tell their stories. So, in the Interpretive Center, it’s like these windows up here. We will have photographs of the veterans when they were in Korea.
I: Um hm.
C: Some big, you know, face photographs, some beside a tank or whatever, showing them when they were in Korea at that time. And then we will have 25 videos of Korean War veterans telling their story. They’re about, probably no longer than five minutes.
But you know, telling their stories. We have flip books. We have about 90 stories on flip books. We’re going to use 30 at a time or something like that so we can change them around. So those flip books will tell the story of the person and have a couple photographs and whatnot. And then we’ll have panels around, you know. One panel is Korea today, how it has changed.
And then panels on prisoners of war, panels about the Tootsie Roll story, those kinds of things that people can view. And they’ll tell their stories.
I: I wish you big success. But also, I want to continue to work with you so that we can share the digital archives that my Foundation has accumulated.
I: And we can be much more mutually beneficially working together.
I: And I want to bring some conferences here in West Oregon because we’ve never been to Oregon. I know there is 35,000 Korean Americans here. I think it’s a big, right place to do for our Foundations to have some functions with you.
C: Um hm.
I: So, but again, I want to thank you for your service as a Peace Corps volunteer and also Fullbright Scholar.
C: Um hm.
I: Now you are the Honorary Counsel of Republic of Korea in Oregon. And thank you for everything that you have arranged. And I’m looking forward to meeting with the Korean War veterans who really changed the relationship.
C: Yeah. Thank you.
I: Thank you, sir.
C: Thank you.
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