Korean War Legacy Project

Gary Routh


Gary Routh joined the military in the 1990s with the intent of having his schooling paid for and the ability to learn Arabic. He soon discovered that his language choice had been changed to Korean, resulting in him being stationed in South Korea. He used his abilities to speak and understand Korean to spy on North Korean forces through the radio. He describes the living conditions in which he lived, likening them to living in a ghetto. He also explains his relationship with the KATUSA and Korean culture, citing the conflicts between American and Korean forces as a misunderstanding of cultures.

Video Clips

Listening in on North Korea

Gary Routh describes his job secretly listening to North Korean soldiers on the radio in the 1990s. He explains that occasionally he would hear artillery practice and excitement on the other end of the radio. He describes that spying was mostly boring, hearing the same phrases every day from the North Korean soldiers.

Tags: Communists,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,Weapons

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American G.I.s and the KATUSA

Gary Routh describes his interaction with the KATUSA stationed with the American G.I.s. He describes how the American forces would view Korean culture as strange, such as bathing each other or eating ramen while seated on the floor. He then describes how Koreans would view the Americans as strange, including the harsh language and loud nature of the U.S. soldiers.

Tags: Civilians,Food,Home front,Impressions of Korea,KATUSA,Living conditions,Prior knowledge of Korea,Rest and Relaxation (R&R),South Koreans

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Like Living in a Ghetto

Gary Routh describes what it was like to live in the barracks stationed in Korea. He explains that the conditions were rough and that the buildings were falling apart. He describes being able to hang out with soldiers who were friends at a moment's notice but that the majority of the experience was similar to living in a ghetto.

Tags: Seoul,Civilians,Food,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Rest and Relaxation (R&R),South Koreans

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