Korean War Legacy Project

Donald Dufault

Bio

Donald Dufault was born in Winchendon, Massachusetts. He was a grocery clerk and a meat cutter before enlisting in the military on October 1, 1952 in Fitchburg, MA. His military service carried out until his discharge on October 20, 1955. During his service period, he went to the Port of Incheon and was stationed at the 38th parallel from April 1953 to August, 1954. He served in the 7th infantry, 32nd regiment, and his military unit was Co. C. He was a PFC upon entering and was later promoted to SGT before his discharge. He was in charge of communications, and participated in Pork Chop hill. He received the Korean Service medal, Good Conduct medal, and the Combat Infantry Badge for his commitments. After returning to the United States, he was assigned to Fort Sill, working in field artillery communications. After being discharged, he returned to the grocery store before entering the funeral service.

Video Clips

Daily Life Behind the Front Lines

Donald Dufault talks about what daily life was like in camp behind the front lines near Pork Chop Hill, Korea during his service in the Korean War. He explains the layout of the Camp and what they received to eat. He shares why he thought they were lucky.

Tags: Food,Living conditions

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfgGtStMbT4&start=869&end=917

Disappointment Coming Home

Donald Dufault discusses reasons that he felt disappointed upon coming home after the Korean War. He explains that even even going to veterans organizations was disappointing, so he did not keep up membership. He eventually rejoined years later.

Tags: Home front

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfgGtStMbT4&start=1110&end=1187

Working Alongside Korean Soldiers

Donald Dufault describes his experiences working alongside Korean (ROK) soldiers while stationed near Pork Chop Hill in Korea during the Korean War. He explains that this soldier was a liaison to the other soldiers. He has some fond memories of their relationship.

Tags: Food,Impressions of Korea

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfgGtStMbT4&start=1339&end=1492

Playing a Part in Preserving South Korea

Donald Dufault talks about the importance of preserving South Korea. He shares that he managed to be part of a Unit that made this contribution. He believes that South Korea has turned into a great country.

Tags: Impressions of Korea,North Koreans

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfgGtStMbT4&start=1616&end=1674

Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

D:        Um, my name’s Don, Donald Dufault, Um, born October 20, 1934.

I:          October 20, 19

D:        1934.

I:          ’34.

D:        Yeah.  Born in, uh, Massachusetts, here, Winchendon, Massachusetts, grew up there, went to school there till I, till I joined the Army at 18 years old after I graduated

0:00:30

high school and, uh, ’52 – ’55 spent in the, in the, uh, in the Army and, uh, went to Korea.

I:          Uh, let me stop you there.

D:        Sure.

I:          Tell me about your family.

D:        My family?

I:          How many brothers and sisters and

D:        I have one brother.  He’s 10 years younger than I, um.  My parents have both died, uh.  I’m married now.

0:01:00

I’ve been married for 57 years, uh.  We have seven children.

I:          But what about your, uh, sister.  You didn’t have any sisters?

D:        Uh, no.  Um, just one brother.

I:          Um.

D:        Just one brother.

I:          Oh.

D:        Yeah.

I:          So you are the eldest son?

D:        I was the, I was the one and only for 10 years till he was born.

I:          Right.

D:        Yeah.

I:          So when did you join your military?

D:        In October of 1951.  Uh, ’52, I’m sorry.  I graduated high school

0:01:30

’51, so I, uh, 1952 to ’55 I was in the military, um.

I:          And, you already knew that the Korean War broke out at the time.

D:        Oh yes.  Oh yes.

I:          What did you think about that?

D:        Uh, I just, at the time, I just thought of it well, here we go again, uh.  We, we have to, uh, get at it again, but at the time, it, that was not my primary

0:02:00

concern.  My primary concern was, uh, leaving home.

I:          Why?

D:        Uh, personal reasons.

I:          Okay.

D:        Yeah.

I:          So you want to get out of the house.

D:        I needed to get out of the house.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        And my out at the time, for me, was the military. That’s where I went.

I:          So did you join the Army or Navy, okay.

D:        Army.  Yeah, I was in the Army, yes.

I:          Where did you join, I mean, tell me about your, uh, basic training at boot camp.

0:02:30

D:        Boot camp was at Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky. 101stAirborne at the time was a training unit, and I did my basic training there, uh, tried to, uh, volunteered to, uh, to go to, uh, jump school, paratrooper school, but, uh, didn’t make it for whatever reason.  I don’t know why.  But I wasn’t accepted to jump school.  But that’s okay.  Probably worked out better that way. [Abrupt Start] Yeah.

0:03:00

Well, you know, I was, uh, 18 years old, uh, at the time and, uh, uh, I guess you might say part of, uh, the old, uh, not afraid, pretty much of

I:          Have you know, uh, of Korea before you left to fight there?

D:        Uh, just, just what I read from, uh, and heard on, at the time on

0:03:30

the radio.

I:          What did they say about it?

D:        Well, it was, uh, a lot of, uh, a lot of problem, Course in 1950-’51 at the time, uh, going up all the way to the Chinese border and then never having, having gotten beaten all the way back to, to Pusan and, uh,

0:04:00

there was a lot of, uh, a lot of, uh, uh, people were, of course, considering, uh, the fact of having just gotten out of one war and into another, um, it was, uh, not popular, not popular.   Nobody, that’s the last thing anybody wanted to do at the time was fight another war.

I:          Um hm.

0:04:30

D:        Uh, but I, I looked at it, I guess you might say I, I volunteered.  I wasn’t drafted.  I volunteered so, uh, you know, what happens happens and it wasn’t as if I was dragged in. So I went in kind of open minded if you will.  So

I:          Did you learn anything about Asia and particularly about Korea in high school?

D:        No, not really.

0:05:00

I:          Um.

D:        No.  I

I:          Do you remember anything that you learned in your history class about Asia?

D:        Uh, nothing specific, generalities mostly, uh, you know, general geography.  But, um, the, uh, I guess the high school was my level of education at the time.

0:05:30

Um, high school was just a matter of getting through it because I had general, uh, pretty much general courses.  I had no, you know, it was not a, uh, college-oriented, uh, program at the time because college was not in my, in my, in my thoughts at the time so, because I was working and going to school at the same time.  So my interest was, uh, pretty much just getting

0:06:00

through school on a easiest course at the time.

I:          Um.

D:        you know, the general education.  So there wasn’t that much, there wasn’t that much, uh, in, indication or interest in, in history and geography so much.

I:          Do you remember when did you arrive in Korea and where?

D:        Uh, in Port of Inchon when we came by, by ship at the Port of Inchon, and that was in,

0:06:30

uh, oh, the end of April, uh, of 1952.

I:          ’53.

D:        ’50, yeah, ’53.  Of ’53. [Abrupt Start] Um, ultimately, uh, transported, uh, over a period of time till I got assigned, till I get, uh, to my unit that I was assigned to at the, in the 7thInfantry and, uh, they were on line at the time at the 38thParallel.  That’s where we, that’s

0:07:00

where I went to, and that’s where I was until, uh, pretty much until, uh, the end.  All the way through, we stayed there, um.

I:          Do you remember where was it?  Name of the camp or the Korean, uh, location name?

D:        We were in the area of Pork Chop Hill.  That’s where I, that was my last encounter.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Um, and, uh,

0:07:30

that’s where, uh, we, that’s where I spent my time, and that’s where I, I took up, uh, I got assigned to the signal portion of the, uh, of the company and, uh, learned, uh, that’s where I learned, uh, wiring and, uh, working with, uh, electronics and generators and, and the like, uh.  Oh that’s keeping the camp,

0:08:00

uh, I guess electrified somewhat or keeping the communications going, and that’s, that’s, uh,

I:          Was that your specialty?

D:        That’s what became my specialty.

I:          Okay.

D:        After arriving at Korea, they were looking for somebody to run telephone lines at the time, and I volunteered, and that’s ultimately became my specialty

No sound from this point (08:24:6) until 0:10:56

kind of had a little celebration back at camp

0:11:00

because it, it was a, it was a successful.  We were able to, uh, accomplish the mission on that particular time and, uh, that’s the only, uh, active, uh, participation that I had as far as actual combat of any kind was concerned.  I went out on a few patrols, but it didn’t, the patrols didn’t really amount to anything. They were quiet, managed to spend a night quietly

0:11:30

out there and came back and, uh, didn’t encounter any, any hostility which was fortunate.  Uh, but other than that, no, it was, uh, pretty much, uh, a day to day thing, uh.  We had, you know, we had some buddies, of course.  Everybody accumulates, uh, acquires buddies, and I was, uh,

0:12:00

I became a squad leader, uh, in the communications section of the company, uh, and, uh, lucky to have a, a jeep and a driver.  So, uh, we were able to

I:          You had a chauffer.

D:        I had a chauffer, yeah, for a while until we lost a jeep in the, in the stream in the, in the monsoon season trying to cross, cross, I can’t, I don’t know, have no idea what the name of the, what the name of the, um,

0:12:30

the stream was, but it was really running good.  It was really flooded, and we tried, we were gonna cross to get, we needed to get to the other side, but we got to the other side.  The jeep didn’t.  [LAUGHS] But, that was okay.

I:          Um.

D:        Yeah.

I:          So you were in the rear, and you

D:        Pretty much, yeah.

I:          Yeah, and mostly it’s been safe, right?

D:        Yeah, pretty much.

I:          Um, where did you sleep?  Was it in the bunker or were you in the

D:        Yeah, we had, yeah.

0:13:00

We had a bunker that we, uh, we stayed in as a, and the bunker was wired, and was a dozen of us to the bunker, uh and, uh,

I:          How did you make the bunker?  Tell me about it?

D:        It was all made.  It was all made when I got there.  All the, all the

I:          Was it underground or is it

D:        Uh, we were on pretty much at the, uh, close to the top, to the top of the hill so that the,

0:13:30

the bunker was, uh, partly above ground, partly below ground.  But, um, it was, uh, well, well secured,

I:          Was it built up?

D:        well secured, yeah.  It, yeah.

I:          Was it

D:        There’s several bunkers along the line that we, uh, that we took care of and, uh, along with, uh, you know, the company that I was with, there must have been, oh, I don’t know.

0:14:00

Along the line there must have been half a dozen, half a dozen bunkers that we were taking care of along we took, also took care of the, the mess hall communications.  Very important to take care of the mess hall communications.  [LAUGHS]

I:          Young kids often ask where did you go to pee? Where did you go to eat?

D:        Ah.

I:          to the Korean War veterans.

D:        Yeah.

I:          What do you, how do you

D:        Really?

I:          just say to them?

D:        Uh, well, we had,

0:14:30

uh, we had the tents that were erected for mess hall.  That’s where the cook tents were, and we ate.  We got our food in the, in the chow line, and we, uh, we were lucky. Our, we had, uh, regular kitchen, a lot of hot food, well-cooked food for the most part.

I:          Tell me what did you eat?

D:        Ah, well, a lot of breakfast SOS as they call it and, but, uh, had scrambled eggs, a lot of scrambled eggs,

0:15:00

uh, eggs, bacon, sausage, uh

I:          Man, you were in the hotel.  [LAUGHS]

D:        Yeah, yeah. Often times, we were able to, uh, even, uh, on, on certain days and certain conditions, we were able to order eggs the way we wanted them.  That was, uh, unusual, but

I:          Sunny side up?

D:        Huh?

I:          Sunny side up?

D:        Sunny side up, yeah.  Yeah.  We had a, uh,

I:          You were lucky.

D:        Yeah, really.

0:15:30

We had a, um, I remember very well, uh, we had a, uh, a Lieutenant, First Lieutenant who was the, uh, company, uh, commander when I got there. Uh, he was Korean.  Name is Lieutenant Jack Thun, T-H-U-N.  I remember him very well and he, uh, he and his first sergeant, can’t think of the fellow, First Sergeant’s first name. But they, um,

0:16:00

they worked well together, uh.  They were the kind of people that could look at you and rip you up one side and down the other and smile all the way through.

I:          [LAUGHS]

D:        It was fantastic.

I:          Oh.

D:        So you didn’t want to get chewed out by any one of these guys.  But it was, they were great.  Uh, He, he was very good.  When I first got there, my Second Lieutenant who was my,

0:16:30

who was a platoon leader, uh, turned out to be a, a, uh, a local from my area of, from my area of town, my area of the Massachusetts here.  He lived in, um, he lived in a town, neighboring town about 25 miles away, um. I met him, and he was on his way out when I got there.  He was the, he left two weeks after I got there.

0:17:00

He went home.  He was rotating home.  But that was, uh, kind of a welcoming committee when I got there. I was met by somebody who was, who I was kind of familiar with because he lived in my state, neighboring town.

I:          What was the feeling when you met the guy who, uh, coming from the same region in the war?

D:        Well, I was hoping I’d be in for a little bit of special treatment, [LAUGHS] Didn’t work.  [LAUGHS]

0:17:30

I:          Yeah. [LAUGHS]

D:        Didn’t work as, first off because I found out shortly after I got there that he was on his way out.  So it didn’t make much matter.  Uh, I kind of hated to see him go, you know.  Tall, he was a tall, good looking guy.  He’s still, he’s still alive.  He, uh, lives in, lives in Athol.   I think he’s in a nursing home now, though.  But, yeah.  But it was a, it was a, uh,

0:18:00

overall, it wasn’t that bad a time.  We, I survived.

I:          Looking back all those years, what do you think? What do you, what are you getting out of this, your service during the Korean War?  Why was it told to be forgot ten, and why is it unpopular?  Tell me about your, you know, sort of, uh, retrospective kind of perspective on your service in Korean War?

0:18:30

D:        I was disappointed, uh, coming back home after I got here, uh.  Going to, um, veterans’ organizations even, uh, local, uh, veterans’ organizations, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, um, I wasn’t impressed, uh.  They didn’t, it, they were glad to take my dues money, but beyond

0:19:00

that, no, they weren’t much interested, uh, in what I had to offer.  So I didn’t, I didn’t keep up membership.  I just dropped off and went about my, went about my life, got married, uh.  I joined other social organizations of, uh, you know, civilian social organizations, um. I never really went back until

0:19:30

coming up with this organization.  I never really, uh, got back to a, um, military organization of any kind because they didn’t seem to have any interest in what I had to offer, so I just

I:          What are you, what did you wanted to do with the organizations when you first joined them?

D:        Uh, well, I didn’t, I didn’t stick around

I:          What did you expect from them?

D:        I had no idea

0:20:00

really, uh.  I expected to be, um, more welcomed than I was. Uh, as I say, you know, they were glad to take my dues money, but beyond that

I:          So the Korean War was not really popular.

D:        No, no it wasn’t.

I:          Why was it so forgotten?

D:        Uh, I think because the American people wanted to forget it really.

0:20:30

Um, they, uh, they wanted us, they didn’t want to hear what, what, um, what had taken place or they didn’t want to hear anything about it.  They wanted, they just wanted to close the book really.

I:          Was it because right after the World War II?

D:        Probably had a lot to do with it.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Uh, we had lost an awful lot of people in World War II,

0:21:00

and we lost an awful lot of people in the Korean War, um.  Casualties were very heavy from the, what, ’50, ’51, ’52, casualties were very heavy for everybody in, in Korea.

I:          Also in 1953 there was

D:        In ’53 all the way through, yeah

I:          Yeah.

D:        all the way through.

I:          So you were very lucky.

D:        I was, yeah.

I:          Yeah.  You had never been wounded?

D:        No.

I:          No.

D:        No.  No.  I, uh,

0:21:30

They, uh, we spent on, we spent all of our time, all my time was spent up there on the 38thparallel in the, in that bunker area, in that same area which was a year pretty, the most of, part of a year.  Um, had, uh, had some friends, uh, most of whom, um, pro, I don’t know.  I haven’t neve kept up with any, uh, of the people that was in the,

0:22:00

my unit, uh.  I, we had a dog for a while that we adopted, that we would have, uh, that I had.  I would have loved to bring that dog home, but that would have been too much.

I:          That’s a Korean dog.

D:        Yeah, Korean dog.

I:          So eating American food

D:        Yeah.

I:          during the War.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Oh my goodness.

D:        Oh yeah, yeah.  But we also had, uh, some ROK soldiers assigned to our unit and, uh,

I:          Tell me about him.

D:        Yeah.  Oh, well, we, this, this, he was a kind of liaison.  He was, um,

0:22:30

connection with other, to connect the other ROK soldiers along with, um, with the, uh, American soldiers, uh, hell, hell of a cook.  [LAUGHS].  He cooked some good stuff.

I:          With what?

D:        Uh, well, I don’t, don’t ask me the names of it, but it was all, it was good eating.

I:          Um hm.  What kind of materials, and how did he cook?

D:        Well, well, a lot of, uh,

0:23:00

well, maybe there was a lot of meat in there that we didn’t, [LAUGHS] that we didn’t realize what it was.  But no, he would get, uh, he would get food from, uh, from the Mess Hall, um, American food from the Mess Hall and, uh, along with his, with a flavoring of rice and, and Korean flavorings of chicken and beef and whatever he could get his hands on, and he put, put together and

I:          Was it spicy, the red sauce?

D:        Sometimes, yeah.   Yeah.  But sometimes

0:23:30

wasn’t, uh.  But it was usually, uh, you know, all cooked out over open fire.

I:          How many Korean soldiers were with you?

D:        Um,

I:          Just liaison officer?

D:        Just liaison officers, most of, about maybe a half a dozen, uh, throughout the company.

I:          How did you like them?

D:        They were fine.  He would, uh, he, we, I had the particular association with the one. He was, uh, had to do with

I:          Remember his name?

D:        [SHAKES HEAD]

I:          Last name?

0:24:00

D:        No.

I:          Last name?

D:        No.  No.  He was, uh, he was a, in communications, and that’s how we, that’s the association we got was the communications part.  But, uh, no, I don’t remember his name.  I can picture him in my mind.  I can pick,

I:          Um.

D:        I, I, I picture his face.

I:          What do you want to say to him if you are arranged to meet with him right now?

D:        If I was to meet with him, it would, it would be, uh, uh, a great reunion, and, and I’d be glad to see that

0:24:30

he was still alive along with me.

I:          What would you say to him?

D:        Huh?

I:          What do you want to say to him?  Say to the camera.

D:        What do I want to say?  I

I:          Yeah.

D:        wish you well.  I hope you’re still alive, and I hope that you’re still healthy and that ever, all is well in your country, believe me.  It’s, uh, it would be great to be able to say hi and, uh, but I don’t know, who kno

I:          Have you been back to Korea?

D:        No.  I, um, I’ve read of the, uh, the return visits to Korea.

0:25:00

They interest me, um. I would, I wouldn’t mii, I would like to go back and take a look and see, see where we’re at, see what’s there, uh. My wife said she would not go. She’s, she, uh, she, uh, not fond of traveling by air in the first place, and she’s not fond of traveling halfway around the world, uh, although we did go to Finland a few years ago on, on a trip that we won, uh.  But,

0:25:30

uh, she says absolutely not.  She would not go, and I don’t think I’d want to go by myself.  I’d want to take her with me if she, you know.  I’d, I’d like to show her what I was doing, get her some sense of what I was doing, although from what I read and what I see, um, in Seoul, I was, I did a, a, we, I did a, um, uh, r, brief r & r in Seoul, uh, then.

0:26:00

It is not what it is now.  It’s a metropolis now from what the pictures that I’ve seen.  But, uh, uh, at the time I was in Seoul, there was a lot of, uh, bombed out places, a lot of destruction and, uh, we had to, uh, we had to be careful where we went and who we went with, um.  But I would li, I would have liked, liked to have done that.  But I don’t think it’s gonna happen.  It’s okay.

0:26:30

I:          You know that it was, it is small country. It’s the size of Indiana state,

D:        Yeah.  Yeah.

I:          and everything devastated right up to the War.

D:        Um hm.

I:          But now we are the seventh largest trading partner to the United States

D:        Um hm.

I:          and 11thlargest economy in the world, and it’s one of the most vibrant democracy nation.

D:        Yeah.

I:          What do you think, what did you do?

D:        What did I do?

I:          Yeah.  To make Korea what it is now.

D:        Well, I think overall, uh, I think what I did, um, my little part,

0:27:00

uh, we managed to be part, I managed to be part of the unit that, um, preserved what the South Korean people were fighting for, um, and I think the, uh, as a result of it, the South Korean people have put together,

0:27:30

um, a great, great country, great organization, and it’s too bad that they can’t convince the North Korean people to, to wake up and see the light of day if you will. It’s, it could be so different all the way across the, that peninsula.  It could be so different.

I:          This is the 60 years’ anniversary of U.S. Korea alliance.

0:28:00

D:        Um hm.

I:          And also 60 years’ anniversary of Armistice.

D:        Yeah.

I:          What do you think about that?  What do you think about the U.S. Korea alliance, and what should we do to replace this Armistice?

D:        I, I think it’s great now, uh.  I think years ago I didn’t think that it was such a big deal years and years ago when the, when the,

0:28:30

when the conflict finally stopped.  Um, grateful that it stopped, um.  At the time, couldn’t wait to get out, um, cause they stopped the, the conflict stopped in, in July of ’53, and I didn’t come back until, uh, until the fall,

0:29:00

and over time, um, I grew to appreciate, I think I grew to appreciate the fact that, um, it wasn’t a lost cause all, you know, totally, and, uh, then when I, when I see, uh, the lata, I thought, I think for me, the latest big accomplishment that I see South Korea

0:29:30

do was the, uh, the manufacture of the automobile, the Kia automobile is fantastic machine really. And we were part of that, you know, in the par, in, in the, in the foundation.  We’re in the foundation, and that’s, I think, that’s the important part of the foundation and what the Korean people have managed to do with all that and I, I was at the, um, uh,

0:30:00

the, the, um, the banquet last summer in Boston, and I thought it was a fantastic thing that the Korean people, the Korean government put together.  That was absolutely fantastic cause who else, who else has expressed that kind of gratitude to the American people?

I:          No.

D:        Really, uh, when you st, I thought about that, you know.  The Japanese,

0:30:30

we rebuilt Japan, uh, Germany, we rebuilt Germany, uh.  I think we, the American people, uh.  But nobody else that I know of has expressed in that fashion and the fashion of the, the situation, the celebration that was in Boston last year, no, nobody else.  So that’s gotta say a lot for the South Korean, for the Korean people.

0:31:00

I:          Hm.

D:        Appreciate that very much.

I:          We appreciate your service.

D:        Um.

I:          Did you lose your, uh, colleagues there, your soldiers, your friends during your service, anybody?

D:        Uh, those that were, not with, those that were with me, no.

I:          No.

D:        No.

I:          Did you have a camera with you?

D:        Uh, yeah, yeah.  We, uh, we took a lot of,

0:31:30

I took a lot of pictures. I sent a lot of pictures home.  They’re somewhere in the trunk at home.  Haven’t sorted them out yet.

I:          Really?  [Abrupt Start] Do you have any comments or message about Korean War and Korean War veterans or, you know, any message to our young generation about the War that you experienced?

D:        Only thing I could probably say would be to anyone if you ever, if you hear about, at all,

0:32:00

a mention of Korean War, uh, if you don’t know anything about it, please make an, you know, do some research and find out, uh, what can, what did happen and what the results were and, uh, if there’s any, uh, possibility that you have from anyone

0:32:30

that would be beneficial, uh, to prevent, to help, to help the situation, to help the matter of the so called Forgotten War, not to be forgotten, it would be, you know, any, an item for the, for research,

I:          Um.

D:        and it would be great, just to, uh, so that along with

0:33:00

other important happenings in the world that we should also remember, remember where we came from, remember where we are, remember, look at the results.  Look at the results of what can happen, you know.

I:          Your interview will be uploaded into the website there on my business card.

D:        Oh, really?

I:          So I want ask, I want to ask your, you to ask your grandchildrens

0:33:30

to check those out, okay?  I will let you know when the

D:        Okay.

I:          interview is uploaded because it will take some time because I have to edit it

D:        Yeah.

I:          and it takes a lot of time.

D:        Sure.

I:          But, uh, please check that out, and that will be the source for them to research, okay, about the Korean War that you fought for.

D:        Yeah, oh, okay.

I:          I wanna thank you for your service and fight for the Korean nation.

D:        Well, you’re welcome.

I:          There is no Korea without your contribution.

D:        You’re welcome.

I:          Thank you very much.

D:        You’re welcome.

I:          And could you hold it up to your face

0:34:00

so that we can, great.  Thank you very much again.

D:        You’re welcome.

 

[End of Recorded Material]