Korean War Legacy Project

Nils Sten Egelien


Nils Sten Egelien was born in Hvalstad, Norway on January 23, 1932. His parents were very religious and would walk an hour just to attend church on Sundays, though he would often hide to avoid going when he was little because he could never understand the priest. He attended officer training school at Befal and graduated in 1949. In a class of 200, he was the only one sent to Korea, a country he knew nothing of except that it was a country in great need of help. He served as a guardsman at NORMASH, a field hospital, and fell in love with the country and its people, having established close friendships with the Korean guardsmen he served alongside. He has revisited the country eighteen times and has enjoyed witnessing the revitalization of a country devastated by war while seeing its people so masterfully preserve the history and ancient culture. Not only is he proud to have served in Korea, he is thankful to have helped such a wonderful people.


Video Clips

The Unsung Heroes of NORMASH

Nils Sten Egelien recalls his experiences at NORMASH as a guardsman. He remembers the high volume of patients coming in from the front lines for treatment and how frustrated he would get when the focus would be on what the doctors and nurses were accomplishing. He explains that along with the unrelenting service of the doctors and nurses, it was the daily grind of the drivers, guardsmen, priests, and cooks that kept NORMASH functioning despite being often overlooked.

Tags: Front lines,Living conditions,Pride

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Jikji predates the Gutenberg Bible

Nils Sten Egelien discusses one of his greatest discoveries about Korea, Jikji. He explains that Europeans had always considered the Gutenberg Bible as the oldest known printed book, however he finds that the Koreans had been printing some 200 years prior to that with a moveable metal print known as Jikji. He considers it one the most finest discoveries he made when learning about Korea.

Tags: Impressions of Korea,Pride,Prior knowledge of Korea

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Arirang (Traditional Korean Folksong)

Nils Sten Egelien sings Arirang, a traditional Korean folksong. He describes the many versions of the song throughout Korea and how it is endearing to the people. He mentions that it is sung every year at an annual Autumn meeting that he attends.

Tags: Impressions of Korea,Pride

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

N:        First of all, thank you very, very much for coming to Norway.
I:          Absolutely, sir.

N:        My name is Nils Sten Egelien and, uh

I:          Could you spell it?

N:        Uh,

I:          Nils, N I

N:        N I L S –  S T E E N – E G E L I E N.  Egelien.


I:          Egelien.

N:        Egelien.

I:          Am I pronouncing okay?
N:        Very good, very good.

I:          Thank you, sir.  So you just sang the Korean anthem.

N:        Yes.

I:          Could you do that again?

N:        [SINGING]


N:        And so on.



I:          Wow.  You’re the best.

N:        No, no, no, no.  It, um, [STAMMERS] As you probably know, every year we have an Autumn  meeting, and we are singing [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Wow.

N:        And you know you have about 140 different [ARIUMS] in North and South Korea.


But we are singing, uh, and I, uh, one of those [ARIUMS] every, every year at the Autumn meeting.

I:          Can you do [KOREAN SONG TITLE]

N:        [SINGING]



I:          Wow.  You’re a great singer.

N:        Don’t say that to my wife.  She,


doesn’t like my singing.

I:          So you look very young.  What year were you born?  What is your birthday?

N:        What’s my

I:          Birthday.  Birthday.

N:        Oh, [STAMMERS] 23rd January, 193, ’33.

I:          Thirty-three.

N:        Yeah.

I:          So you are now 86?

N:        Yeah, could be, you are very good, I don’t know quite true, but you, yeah, yeah, yeah.

I:          You look very great.



I:          So where were you born?

N:        I am born at Hvalstad.

I:          Could you spell it?

N:        H-V-A-L-S-T-A-D.

I:          Could you pronounce it again.

N:        Walsta.

I:          Uh huh.  And tell me about your family background when you were growing up,



your father, your mother and your brothers and sisters if you have any.

N:        My father and my mother great people.  Very religious.  And they taught me, you know, I was very little, and my father, every Sunday taking me to church.

I:          Um.

N:        And we had to walk by the feet, either one hour at to [HUSKA] church.


And I, you, I was so little, and I didn’t  understand the priest, what he was saying.

I:          Um.

N:        And, and I tried to hide myself so he couldn’t find me to travel up to the church.  But he found me every time, and sitting in front on the chair and he was very, he didn’t like the audience because they couldn’t see.  And he was standing there [SINGING]


And all the audience looked, yeah.  And I’m, I’m listening a little.  I was, yes.  I didn’t understand what the priest was saying because I was too little, and he   But, um, I’m still a Christian.

I:          Um.

N:        And I, I have been


trying to be killed in some way eight times.

I:          Um.

N:        Two times in Morocco and, uh, one time in [INAUDIBLE] I was their leader of the U.N. Material for, um, Gaza.  And once the Korean War  Veterans was invited to Ethiopia.

I:          Um.


N:        because, you know, Ethiopia took part in the War in Korea [INAUDIBLE] Fantastic good.  And all the nations were invited to come to Ethiopia.  Only two came, Korea and Norway.

I:          Hm.

N:        And I didn’t understand that quite.  But it was a little hard to, to come to Ethiopia.  but I      went, but I had never in my life had so big


applause because we were among many different service.  Asked to stand here and talk to the people.  That was Ethiopian audience, maybe 10,000, maybe 12, 50, I don’t know.  And the Koreans talked first, and then I had to talk.  And I thought by myself


that the, it was no problem to speak very fine and good about the Ethiopian forces in Egypt because I had a [INAUDIBLE] over there.  And I knew because I’m very acute, looking around [STAMMERS] and I suddenly understand that that year was 100 years before the [INAUDIBLE]  And I start ed, I don’t know how many


of those 15,000 people understood English.  But I started to say this year, it is 100 years since the Battle of [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Um.

N:        And I never have had so big applause.  It was fantastic.  But you know, the Italians, they were the biggest force


in Europe at that time.  I wanted to have an African country that English and nearly still all the, yes.  So, uh, that was just fantastic.  But it, it all comes from the Korean War.

I:          Yeah.  So let me ask about that.  But before, how many brothers and sisters did you have?  Are you by yourself?

N:        No, I, I, I, I am, my, my self, yes.  And I have, uh,


have one, uh, two, and [INAUDIBLE]  That’s my, my, yes.

I:          Okay.  So tell me this question is very important.  Did you know anything about Korea while you were growing up and in your school?  When did you finish your school?


N:        I was going on an Officers’ School was 1950, no, 49.  And we were taught, and we were about 200 Norwegians there,  Now you can choose.  Either you could go to Korea

I:          Um hm.

N:        or you could go to Germany



because we had quite a lot Norwegians, um, serving Germany.  And among those 200 at the school, about 67 or something said Korea.  They want to go to Korea.  And the reason was [INAUDIBLE]That was the charge the headman of the United Nations, and he was a Norwegian, you know.


And he has said to the people please tell Korea to help all loving, peace countries in, in, in the world.   Please tell Korea, and I, I’ve been lost quite a lot, why?

I:          Why?
N:        And I said [INAUDIBLE] and 50% for agreeing what he said and 50%, you know, very boyish,


how [NOISES] yeah.  And you wouldn’t believe it.  But among all those people at the school who wanted to go to Korea, only one came to Korea, and that was me.

I:          Wow.   What is your school name?

N:        Uh, Befal school.


And that’s Officers’ school, Befal School in, uh, Southern Norway.

I:          Southern Norway.  What is, spell it, the name of the school.

N:        Uh, Befal is, uh, yeah, Befal, B-E-F-A-L.

I:          Befal.

N:        Befal. [NOISE] Befal.

I:          And when did you graduate that school, 1949?

N:        Yeah, yeah, something like that.  For [STAMMERS], yeah,


40, 49, yeah.  Something like that.

I:          And how did you know about this Corp. from U.N., United Nations?  How did you learn about it?

N:        No, that was not, nothing because there’s a school said that.  The Headmaster of the school.

I:          Um hm.

N:        said now all peace-loving, and, I was the only one of 60, and that is I don’t


understand that.

I:          Why?  Why would you even want?|

N:        Because yes, I can give you Norway had a lack of officers and Sergeants and everything all over the country.

I:          Uh uh.

N:        So they couldn’t give away all to Germany and to Korea.  So, and that was the main reason that I could, it was only one, and I don’t understand that me about 60 or 7, uh, I don’t know how many


was the only one because I was not the best one at the school.  No.  But I, I, I think it did have something to do with one of the leaders at that school.  I’m an [INAUDIBLE] you know, yeah.  And, uh, he knew me very well, and perhaps also as a man.


So I was the only one who came down there and he told me I was not the best one.  Maybe in the middle of those 200.

I:          So 200 friends, students volunteered to go to Korea but they were not able to go.

N:        No, no.  They, they all, those 200 at the school, 67 or something asked to come to Korea.

I:          Um hm.  So what happened?  So


did you go off to Korea as a soldier or

N:        Yes, as a soldier because I was, at that time, an Officer.

I:          As a officer?

N:        Yeah, as a Officer.

I:          Hoo.

N:        And, but you know, um, you, you, you haven’t seen the book

I:          Um hn.

N:        a little more about that book afterwards.


But, uh, um,

I:          So when did you join the military to go to Korea?  When was it?

N:        I think that was in ’52.

I:          1952

N:        Yeah.

I:          And

N:        And then, uh, about, uh, eight, nine months

I:          In Korea?

N:        Yes, in Korea.

I:          Okay.  And before, did you learn anything about


Korea from the school?

N:        No.

I:          Not at all.

N:        Nope.

I:          Did you know where Korea was in the map?

N:        Yes.

I:          How?

N:        I had a map.

I:          But did, did you have any interest to look at Korea in the map?

N:        Yes.  I have that because I am interested in quite a lot of special things about everything History.  And I knew very much about your history


nearly 2,000 years before Christ.

I:          Yeah.

N:        And you have been, uh, [INAUDIBLE] in, in,

I:          In Navy.

N:        In Navy by 90 times.  By the surrounding country and especially Japan.

I:          And China.

N:        And China, oh yes, yes.  It’s, and that is very, very interesting because I did see something here.


I knew very well afterwards that in, to learn Korean, that was, um, to speak Korean, that was the one thing.  But to write Korean that, you, you had to write Chinese.  And that was very, very not only difficult but you had to go to school maybe two, three years before understanding.  And you, the people had money, money or, or couldn’t do that.


And so they

I:          You have such brilliant

N:        And, and, and in, I think it was [TCYoung]

I:          [INAUDIBLE], yes.

N:        Yeah.  He said to his men now you give me an alphabet so I can teach my people about mixing potatoes, fruits and everything.

I:          That’s right.
N:        And they, they, they made, they  make [hungry].

I:          Yeah.


N:        And hunger, I learned it in two days.

I:          Two days, yes.

N:        Hunger because you know that was the constant and [INAUDIBLE] we have.  But the sign was, of course, quite harder.  But two days, my wife makes it much, much cleaver than, than I am, she can learn it one day.

I:          Um.

N:        That is hunger.


I:          So that’s the beauty of Korean language system, right?

N:        Ah, yes.  The, the, the, the, that is, that is, uh, something, yes, yes.  But it’s quite a lot of other things.

I:          But you didn’t know anything about Korea before you go to Korea, right?
N:        I knew, oh yes, I think I, I knew something about the history, oh yes, yes, something about the history.  And about, uh, Japan occupying Korea too much and, uh, trying to take


China and even go to Europe and take Europe.

I:          Um hm.

N:        And I

I:          So have you been back to Korea after you left from Korea?  Did you revisit Korea?

N:        Eighteen times.

I:          Eighteen times?

N:        That’s on General Assembly meetings and on a revisits.

I:          Revisit, yes.

N:        Yeah.  But, but, you know, every four years after War


I:          Um hm.

N:        I, it was [one little] person to represent from all the nations

I:          Yes.

N:        And every four years, General Assembly meeting.

I:          So when was the last time you were in Korea?

N:        I think it is, um, four, four years, uh, or something.

I:          2015?

N:        Yeah, something like, I don’t remember exact, but something like that.


I:          And so you had a pretty good idea.  You were in Korea 1952, right?  And then you went to 18 times back to Korea

N:        Yes.

I:          and last time was around 2015.  Can you compare this Korea you saw in 1952 and the Korea now?  Can you compare it, and tell me about it.  Tell young Norway at school students about that.


N:        Then years we’d have eaten and slept quite a lot because all I could see maybe so many things that we could, maybe two, three hours.

I:          Go ahead.  Go ahead.

N:        One of the most, finest things if you ask people around the world, especially in Europe,


who made the copying of books.  Everyone says Johan Guttenberg.

I:          Guttenberg.

N:        Yeah.  That is right, right because it was in Europe.  But 200 years before.  You had made a better system.

I:          Yes.

N:        Two hundred.  and you know, that is very interesting.


I:          [INAUDIBLE]

N:        Yeah.  And that is very interesting because  you made metal types

I:          Yep.  Moveable metal.

N:        Moveable metal.  And quite a lot of paper when I am saying this [INAUDIBLE] those Chinese and China.  I know about the Chines and the book writing very, very good, very nice.  But you couldn’t be compared when the, with the Koreans


because you gave, uh, taking wood plates and, uh, putting colors, you know, on wood page and so on [STAMMERS] and making very nice and very fine things.

I:          Um hm.

N:        But the first metal type that we used in all of our and in Norway and during the last war and after war.  That is just fantastic.  So that and that, and that’s, uh,


I never, never for, forget.

I:          Um hm.

N:        But it, it quite [INAUDIBLE]

I:          But tell me more about Korea you saw in 1952.  You were in Seoul, right?  And then now you went back to Korea these days, right?  What are the difference?  Before and after picture.

N:        Yeah, they, of course your


your, you are today one of the first 8th best nations in the world considering, uh, yes,  money and, and, and everything like that.  And that is very, very clear.  But when I coming down there now, it’s just fantastic.  The people, the country and, uh, everything.


And, uh, of course I learned quite a lot because I could tell you I, it’s three countries in the entire world that I love.  That is Korea.  That is Finland.  That is Scotland.  Finland because I’m a Norwegian today.

I:          Um hm.

N:        Because, you know, they took, uh, Russians, they wanted to take all [INAUDIBLE] everything.


But the Fins, fantastic.

I:          Yeah.

N:        Yeah, yes.  And what I learned in Korea during the War and afterwards

I:          Um hm.
N:        was just fantastic.  I have [STAMMERS] only one thing.  In Norway, quite a lot of people have been asked, um, um, how about the Norwegians?


Are they very good people to wars?  Good people coming from abroad?

I:          Um hm.

N:        And so on and they, you have everything.  Yes and, and most people say yes.  The Norwegians are very, very good when you know them.

I:          Um hm.

N:        But you could be, I think, um, because I say to bring like before we know them, [This statement and the one following was kind of gibberish]


they are ready too cold and their look, uh, straight on and, and yeah.  And I tried this in Korea.

I:          Um hm.

N:        Some years ago, I had a map of Seoul, Seoul.  And I remembered, I was looking at the map in the middle of Seoul


and an old woman came towards me.  Can I help you?  Yes.  [STAMMERS] And I, come here.  And we went quite a long way down there, and just as long way up there and suddenly quite a big white building, this is the


building where you are, and she went all the way back because she should the other way

I:          Um.

N:        Fantastic, and you don’t see that in Norway.

I:          Um hm.

N:        And I, I, I been, uh, looking at all the people coming in the boats and maybe staying for some few hours in, in Oslo and they are maybe about [STAMMERS] and Norwegians are not so good and, and, uh, going towards them


and asking can I help you.  But the Koreans

I:          But what about city when you were there in 1952, how bad Korea was?  How was it when you first, when did you land in Korea?

N:        When I landed in Korea, most of Koreans were, let us speak about Seoul.  It was in ruins.  Most of it was in ruins.


And, but the people, I mean there, yes, were very, very nearly astonished how they were living and, and yes.  So

I:          So when you go back to Korea 2015, what did you see?  How different was it from the Korea that you saw 1952 and now Korea?  What are the

N:        Oh, everything is built up historical and, and the people


and [INAUDIBLE] because there was very, very fine from the very beginning.  But,  uh, you know, we came to a country in ruins and coming back there, it’s just been fantastic because you got all the history and everything you could, moving around not only in, in, in Seoul but everywhere.  And I have been all over Korea


hitchhiking alone and also together with, with my people in the family.  And that is very nice because I remember very well when I, um, hitchhiking in, in those days or, you know, in all the countries around Korea, they, and there’s [INAUDIBLE] sitting at the


[STAMMERS] at the, the, the road or something [INAUDIBLE] and, and the little beer and a little food and so on.  And may, maybe if the, uh, it’s the road there, they  look around and see what kind of people is coming out, and if I was normal, [Noises and movements]


But if I [INAUDIBLE] recognize her is maybe a European or an American coming, but if I put up my or something like that, in the 8th or 10th time, I was invited, and that was fantastic


sitting there a little table across there with a, um, maybe a little beer and, and a little food and something.  And one time in Seoul, uh, that time because I was very, very interested in the War Memorial at the, um, the yard where all the dead people are.

I:          Um hm.

N:        And, um, I remember one time I was looking at all the sites


and, um, over there and houses around.  But on the other side of that, uh, [INAUDIBLE] stones, a family is across or something.  But I was looking, and when I neared the place where those two


people, yes, sitting, they invited me in.

I:          Um.

N:        And I

I:          They are very friendly.

N:        Yes.  But those two people came to the same place once a month, one, once a month to pay respects to their brother or, or laying on the graveyard just before there.


So I, we were sitting there and, uh, and uh, I, I don’t speak, uh, speak, uh, Korean, maybe some prayers or, or something.  And, uh, but, uh, that was just fantastic.

I:          But when did you leave Korea?  You came, you went there 1952

N:        Yes.

I:          And then when did you leave Korea?

N:        No. I, I, I left Korea in, uh, ‘53

I:          Fifty-three.


So when you left Korea, had you ever thought that Korea would become like this today, 11th largest economy in the world and one of the most substantive democracy.  Had you ever thought that?

N:        No I, I, I, I don’t think I should say I have thought that.

I:          Um.

N:        Because everything was in ruins.  And, um,


but, as I told you, I learned so much from the Korean people.  For instance how to take care of your own people, your parents and everything like that.  And much, much better than here in Norway.

I:          Hm.

N:        And, uh, quite a lot of other things.  [STAMMERS] we learned that.  So to say in NORMASH, Norwegian Army Surgical Hospital,


it was [INAUDIBLE] yes, fantastic.  You have, you have the book.  You should not forget the Norwegian translations because it’s the same book more or less.  But not quite.  So you, are, you should take one of my books

I:          Yes.

N:        because, uh, I have taken 90% of the pictures.

I:          Of those pictures in that book?
N:        Yes, yes.  And


this is me, and I am taking the picture.

I:          Ah hah.

N:        Man, it’s quite easy.  I had a Japanese camera

I:          Uh huh

N:        and put this on a stove and press a button and 10 seconds, you know, [INAUDIBLE] So I have taken that picture.  But 90% of the pictures here I have taken.

I:          Ah ha.  So, um, let me ask this question.


Tell me about NORMASH in, where were you?  You were in Uijeongbu or [Dongducheon]?  Where were you?

N:        First in Uijeongbu

I:          Um hm

N:        But I was in [Dongducheon].

I:          [Dongducheon].

N:        [Dongducheon] yeah.

I:          Yeah.  So tell me about what happened there.  How many patient, how many wounded soldier, how was it?  Tell me the details.

N:        It’s, it’s [INAUDIBLE]  We have books about that, and I have people in  my board, fantastic board.


At the, every detail here. But, um, normally they’d say 90,000 people were treated.  And, uh, uh, one of our very, very good board members, Ness, he, he has quite a [INAUDIBLE]  900.  It’s, uh,


and someone told he has all the details about things.

I:          Um hm.

N:        That is fantastic.

I:          What was your job?  What did you do?

N:        Yes.  Back again to the book.  I was sometime after more asking Norwegian people, NORMASH, Norwegian Army Surgical Hospital.  What’s that?

I:          Um hm.

N:        And the answers were


very bad.  I was angry.

I:          Why?

N:        Because the answers said [MUMBLES]

I:          They didn’t know about it.

N:        Yes, it was sister, doctors, dentists, [STAMMERS], and I said how about the drivers?

I:          Yes.

N:        Seventeen of them every time driving dead people and blood, every, every [INAUDIBLE].


And about the guardsmen, I belonged to the guardsmen in NORMASH, and we had a rifle and we had to shoot and about the, the priest and about the cooks and someone, so that is the reason why I asked [INAUDIBLE] to leave.  He is the man who has made the book


and said to him could you please make a NORMASH book?  And that is a book, you know, a normal book

I:          Hold up more.

N:        A normal book is an author.  You have an author.

I:          Right.

N:        But you don’t find an author here.  [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Um hm.


N:        You know what a [INAUDIBLE] is?

I:          No.  What is it?

N:        It is a book with all the chapters, chapters here

I:          Um hm

N:        made by those people who I asked [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Um hn.

N:        Very famous in Korea.

I:          [INAUDIBLE], yes.

N:        Yeah [INAUDIBLE]  And, so he has a big chapter in it.


And he was, of course, in my staff until he died two years ago.

I:          Um hm.

N:        And, uh,

I:          So [INAUDIBLE] worked for you.

N:        Yes.  In my staff, you know

I:          What did he do?

N:        [STAMMERS] let me see.  Not in the NORMASH.  Now we are speaking to, today.  I have today a fantastic staff.


You have heard about Lucie?
I:          Yeah.

N:        She is the President of the Friendship Association.  Fantastic.  And she really started in and was among us until he died and it was seven people altogether in my staff.  And I’m so happy with that staff today with the people who are there.  But it is


yes.  It’s very hard to describe.  But I’m so fantastic happy.

I:          Yeah.  So what did you do?  You are, you were a guardsman, right?

N:        I am, yes, I am a guards

I:          You protect the

N:        the King.

I:          The King, the MASH unit, right?  So how, how was it?  Was it dangerous to do it or

N:        [STAMMERS] Are we in Norway now?

I:          No, no, no.  I mean in [Dongducheon].In, in Korea.

N:        Yeah.

I:          What did you do and


N;        Oh I, I, I, I, I was a guardsman.

I:          Yeah.

N:        No, I, I, course we were guarding the, the, the NORMASH and, uh, it’s quite a lot of stories, and you have

I:          Tell me about stories. Tell me.

N:        One friend of mine, his name was also Nils.  We went up to the front line,


and we were, we were not ordered to go to the front line and look down.  But we were very interested to see all the people came from, all the 90,000.

I:          Um hm.

N:        Um, and I had so many strange things from those visits.  One thing which I do not understand.

I:          Um hm.

N:        He’s staying there at the wrong time, was he Australian, um, battalion


Yes, I think so.  And the Chinese bombed and it started along the way up, up there.  [NOISE]  And it came near and near and that Officer who was


guiding me at this Australian battalion, sent after some time.  Now we have to go into, to, because the, the bombs are coming here.  And I don’t understand why they couldn’t all those bombs and we only could [NOISE] coming over in here and then, they they went to, to the,  [INAUDIBLE].  And [NOISE]


And I, after we left and to the next, uh, we don’t understand that how they put their [INAUDIBLE] didn’t kill people.

I:          Um Hm

N:        We, we don’t understand that.  But another time, and you have the picture here.  I’ve taken it.  Oh.  And, uh, where is it,



I:          Hold it up.  Um hm.  Yes?

N:        This picture, because I am very, very clever.  No, I wouldn’t say clever.  But, I’m very happy to see details and picture taking, and I painted part of the pictures about that and the picture I painted is oils.


But. uh, I see the details, the sun and the dark and light.  And here is the detail, is a, uh, which I found was very good.  This one is, we were, and we were going up to Old Baldy I think it was, the highest

I:          Old Baldy?

N:        Old Baldy, yes.  But we didn’t know that the Chinese had taken it during their last night.
I:          Um hm.

N:        So when I took this picture,


suddenly a bomb very near.  And we were, we were all supposed to taking [INAUDIBLE] but, but my here, for two weeks I didn’t hear one thing.

I:          Um.

N:        And so even normal people, I’m not strong.  I’ve gone to the doctor and made something here and, and


could [INAUDIBLE] but my wife is not so happy this, no.

I:          So, um, tell me more about the, what MASH did, Norway MASH did.  How  many patients everyday, how bad

N:        I, I, I, I, I didn’t say everyday because that was from maybe five, ten to maybe twenty or more


that I, I, I don’t, um, I haven’t [INAUDIBLE]  But, uh

I:          Any other MASH story that you can share with us?

N:        I told you perhaps that I’m an old scout  And we were, was it 9 or how many?  It’s a picture in the book even.  So we, we


were maybe gathered sometimes to sing Norwegian Scout songs and, and, in, in a tent.

I:          Um hm.

N:        But that was very, very strange because to sit there in a tent, the scouts and they hear [NOISE] That was very strange.  So um, the scouts, we were there and, uh,


you know I, I have said that this is a not a normal book because I’m one author.  You could see all those who have written themselves.  But I, I have a forward here together when the Ambassador of, from this and, But, uh, we, we, we learned quite a lot, and we had an even an, uh,


Korean platoon who did just the same as Norwegian guardsmen at the NORMASH.

I:          Um.

N:        And that was a very, very fine, uh, platoon, and we learned quite a lot from them.  Well, singing, maybe I [INAUDIBLE] Even a Japanese song. [INAUDIBLE] cause that’s a very, not a very good one


I, I, as I understand because, uh, when they marry they had taken Korea and, and they were very, in China to take every [INAUDIBLE] and you know you have heard about those, you know.  So that was not so good.  But, um, you, you, you, you could really read about all the [INAUDIBLE]] sections at NORMASH


[INAUDIBLE] such a good hospital in the book and, um, I, uh, I have written a chapter for the Norwegian Guardsmen

I:          Um hm.

N:        uh, and it’s quite a lot of strange things there, [STAMMERS] wouldn’t believe it, it’s just fantastic [INAUDIBLE]


I:          Did you know all the doctors and nurses there?

N:        No, no, no, no, no.

I:          No?  You didn’t know?

N:        It was too many people all [ INAUDIBLE] you know, you couldn’t know.  I, maybe no, no, yes and saying hello and everything like that.  And it is not good to use the word free time because we had not too much free time.

I:          Uh huh.


N:        But, uh, if we had a little free time, we helped them at the hospital.

I:          Um.

N:        And I remember one time I, it was a patient laying there, and I was taking, uh, holding his, one of his feet because they were cutting it out and suddenly I stood with a foot, what should I do with it?

I:          Hm.

N:        I [STAMMERS]


So we, we helped at the hospital now and then.  That, uh, that was, uh, that was very good.

I:          You said that you are the Christian, right?

N:        Yes.

I:          You believe in God?

N:        Yes.

I:          And when you saw so many people dying, being killed and wounded and being treated, what were you thinking at the time?


N:        To be a Christian, that is, of course, as you are intending, that is to live now what is going on now.  And, uh, I, I don’t say, I am a Christian, and I give my afternoon praise every night.

I:          Um.

N:        And that takes about five minutes because


it was only one praise quick.  And, um, I, I, I often, often say you are a Christian, yes.  But I’m not a good Christian.  No, no, no, no.  Maybe I, I, now and then I, go, and I don’t try to say, [INAUDIBLE] no, no, no, no, no.  And I have never in my entire life been judged.

I:          Hm.


N:        I, I, I’m very, I like [INAUDIBLE] but it should be sweet.  And, and I, I’ve never never been drunk, never in the entire life because I, uh, no, no.

I:          What about did you see North Korea or Chinese soldiers being treated there in NORMASH?

N:        Yeah.

I:          Tell me about it.

N:        That is so fantastic.


I:          Tell me.

N:        Because, uh, some of the people in the, in the Guards, Korean Guard platoon, they were people friends from North Korea.

I:          Um.



N:        [MUN Kim youn young], he, he was just fantastic in,  in every field.  And I remember, uh.  One, well, that is very good because one of our sharpest heads is Ness, Ness, I mentioned him before in the Guard, Ness, his name was Ness.

I:          Eilif Ness?  I

N:        Eilif Ness, yeah.

I:          Yeah.

N:        And he’s still  living in my ward.  And I have a picture here,


very, very, very clear.

I:          Uh huh.

N:        We are coming back to the North Korea.  I, I remember he was sitting in the tent at the stove and trying, because he was sending every second  month a letter to Norway because he [STAMMERS] mathematics, mathematics.  And, um [INAUDIBLE] fantastic [INAUDIBLE].


But he was sitting there and, and I remember this because, many times seeing him, but this special time he was sitting there and [NOISE] and [KIM YUNG YUNG] came in, in the tent opening and saw the same as I saw.  And he


went towards Eilif and looked over his shoulder and he said [ME FIX E FIX E]

I:          Um.

N:        And he [NOISE] problem.  That is just fantastic.

I:          Um.

N:        So it’s, it gives me something that, uh, the Koreans [INAUDIBLE]  I’m very, very clever, very clever.


I have been to North Korea

I:          Um.

N:        But, uh, very strange, very strange because the North Koreans taking, uh, in one year maybe 600 guests, maybe 600.  And South Korea maybe 6 million.  But [INAUDIBLE]  And I understand it because we came to Chuncheon,


the capital, very nice hotel.  The food was good.  The people very, very kind.  But we had always all the time people around us so we couldn’t take [INAUDIBLE] what they liked and, and they see all the bad things.  We, we, we couldn’t, we were not allowed to that.


So that was a very, and you didn’t see any cars at the time.  It was very nice.  The police standing there and no.  That, that was very strange.  But I have, no, he’s not a member.  But he came to North Korea, uh, as a guest and he made a little, uh, [INAUDIBLE], and I never, never, never in my life


has seen a better thing about the state in North Koreans.

I:          Um.

N:        I have [INAUDIBLE]

I:          So what was the most difficult thing during that, your service in [Dongducheon]?  What was the most difficult thing to you?

N:        That is very hard to say because we had to help people


uh, and then most people was, wasn’t living people.  We had to help him and carry them from here and there and, uh, to guard the camp.  There was no problem I think to get them into Korea, no,.  No problem at all.  But, um, it was a, see, all and, especially all those small children


I:          Um hm.

N:        Because normally we should not take civilians.  But I think we Norwegians said something like, it was very clear what to do and to take.  But we very clearly said that we understand, and we will do


this like that and that.  But we will also take care of the small children and civilians who are coming here.

I:          Um hm.

N:        because they’re people

I:          Yes.

N:        and that is the main thing.

I:          Yes.

N:        So we did that.  The civilian people and children.   You see them in the book.

I:          Most of them were American soldier.  But at the same time, you treated 33% of

N:        [INAUDIBLE]

I:          young people, right?

N:        Yeah, but mostly, most of them,


in, in the book, you have a, a list of, all the nations came, uh, dead or not.

I:          Um.

N:        And I [STAMMERS] I am, I’ve been to, the, um, yeah, up, up North a little further up.  And coming back again, Nils, that was Nils, you see him too, Nils, hiking back


I:          Hm

N:        in military [INAUDIBLE]  And my friend Nils [INAUDIBLE] driver, and he said you, you  have to go on back and lay down there.  And then after some time, we were near NORMASH, and Nils came out and awakes me and said now we are here.  But you are laying on,


was it 18 dead people.

I:          Um.

N:        They were all in plastic, uh, [INAUDIBLE] burnt.  But I have been sleeping there and when he said laying on dead people, yes, that was quite true.  It was, had some, had some arms and everything like.  I’ll never forget that.

I:          Um.

N:        That was very strange.


I:          What about, do you, did you know, um, the driver, his name is Arne Christianson?  He, he was killed, right, the driver, Arne Chistianson.

N:        I can’t say that, uh, I knew him maybe when I was there.  But to die, I, I don’t remember that.

I:          Okay.

N:        And that is a shame.  All those hundreds of people.  I, I maybe when I see them


I can oh yes.  You have been through [NOISE] like that.  But then most of them are because they have changed.

I:          So you were officer, right?

N:        Yes.

I:          What was your rank?
N:        I am a Major.

I:          Major.
N:        Yes.

I:          At the time?

N:        No, no, no, no.

I:          At the time, what was your rank?

N:        I, I think I was a Second Lieutenant or something like that.

I:          Second Lieutenant?

N:        Yeah, something like that.


I:          Uh huh.  And

N:        But I, you know, we had to take off our, I was not a Second Lieutenant in, in NORMASH.  Everyone has to start as a Lance Corporal or a Corporal.
I:          Exactly.

N:        Yes, yes.  And that you have to understand because you couldn’t have [GESTURE] no, no.

I:          So what was the most rewarding moment in your service, most happy or


most rewarding?  What was it?

N:        That is very hard to INAUDIBLE].  But my, I think my companionship with the Korean Guardsmen.

I:          Um.  How many were there, Korean Guardsmen?

N:        Uh, I, I don’t remember exact [THEM].  But let us say about, uh,



I:          Thirty?

N:        Yeah, about 30.

I:          Um.

N:        Twenty-five, 30 or something.

I:          What was it ?  How was the relationship?  Did you try some Korean food, or did you drink with them or what did you do?  Why do you like the Korean Guardsmen?

N:        Because they were people.  They were good people.  Ask the Koreans.

I:          Um hm.

N:        And as I already told you,


we learned quite a lot on normal behavior from the Koreans, North or South, doesn’t matter.  But that, that was a very, very, very, very good.  The food was , uh, I think it was mostly, uh, American, uh, battle food  or what you call it.

I:          C ration?

N:        Yeah, maybe that, oh, but that, that, that was very good and very fine, very good and very fine.


I:          Um hm.

N:        So when, I like [BEEBNBOT]

I:          Oh.  Did you try there in Korea?

N:        Oh, not during the War.
I:          Not during the War.

N:        No, no, no, after.  I had my daughter with me and I have a picture here of her sitting in the corner there and eating [BEEBNBOT].  And that was very, very strange.  [BEEBNBOT] was, it is.


But, I was reading every day in the Korean news.

I:          Hm.

N:        The, the paper, you know.  And I think it was, yes, it was the day after I looked at my [INAUDIBLE] that we’re eating [BEEBNBOT].  and you had an article in the news.   [BEEBNBOT] one.  And quite a big article.

I:          Um.


N:        And the day after [BEEBNBOT] two.  And a big article.  I, maybe I have them here.  And, uh, I, I think, yes.  I, I have, uh, read them in, in English.  But I, I, um,

I:          You speak perfect English.

N:        No, I don’t, I wouldn’t like that, no, no.

I:          So you, you told me that you really, I mean, the school didn’t teach about Korea


when you were in high school.  And you didn’t know much about Korea.  Now you been to 18 times

N:        Yes sir.

I:          What is Korea to you?  Why, why your life is linked with Korea, and what is Korea to you now personally?

N:        Korea to me now personally is a fantastic country with fantastic people.  Means a history that, uh, the people wouldn’t understand.


And I have been to Japan quite lots of times also.  That is the, the Emperor Palace, very good. And you have, uh, the main street with all the girls

I:          Um hm.

N:        and the mountains with snow, what else.  So I’m a little, uh, I wouldn’t say angry, but I, uh, [STAMMERS] reading these papers every day, and I, now when they say they are making


tourist trips to Japan

I:          Um hm.

N:        China, why not Korea?  South Korea because they have much, much, much more to show them.  That I, I, I really don’t, don’t understand.

I:          Um hm.

N:        But they, no they have quite a lot of things and you, your history is fanta.  In Seoul, hundreds of things.




But, you know, you have that big mountain, big trees, very old chimneys on top.  I  know what, how you, you know today you are speaking really [STAMMERS] In the olden times even before Christ, you warned the people with those two chimneys


Now, the Chinese are coming and trying to, to kill us [NOISE] and put up [STAMMERS] back or smoke or whatever in that [INAUDIBLE] and maybe another one there.  But you told the people with the smoke coming from those two.  They have to be very careful because [NOISE]

I:          Um.

N:        That, that, that, that’s only one thing.

I:          Do you know that, uh, now


Norway in the school, do they teach about the Korean War or modern Korea in the school?  Do you know?

N:        My, in ,in, in normal schools I, uh, I, I, I, don’t  think they have, that’s very hard for me to say because you have different parts of schools around there.

I:          Right.
N:        They, they had Geography of course, and they learned about Asian


countries of course.

I:          Um hm.

N:        I’ve been to Bangladesh as a scout.

I:          Um hm.

N:        because they had to help Bangladesh with [GESTURE]

I:          You mean scout is Free Mason or

N:        Yeah, yeah, a free, [NUMBER] scout.

I:          Scout.

N:        Yeah.

I:          Okay.

N:        Because we have, had Bangladesh be quiet and not school children materials and



and everything like that.

I:          Um hm.

N:        So I think it was, uh, in 9, yes, 9, 10 days we were there traveling, um, not all over but quite a lot of same thing.  And that was very nice because you could speak to those people about politics, and that was very, very good.  So, uh, come in there and in, uh,


hotels we were in hotels at the time.  And back again to, to Korea as I [INAUDIBLE] hitchhikes.  Always rain in the woods.  I not paying hotels.  Always I have pictures of living and maybe in a little tents or not at all.  But, uh, every  time ever, in the woods, in the mountains


during the night.  That was very, very good.  And fan, I have good pictures from this also.  [INAUDIBLE] Koreana.  It was, uh, up there.  I took picture of the [NOISE] and in my  home I have two mountains


and one mountain is the mountain behind [INAUDIBLE] Koreana.  And the stones there is from Korea.

I:          Hm.

N:        And two more for my, other people, uh,  But it’s stones.  So I, I am always taking quite a and you, you wouldn’t believe it, but I’m crazy, must be because to, today I’m looking


and I’m looking in the stones there and [INAUDIBLE] No, I really do that.

I:          Um hm.  Are you proud serving Korea?

N:        Yes, I am.  And you used the word proud.  Yes, I’m proud.  But mostly thankful.


I:          We are the ones should thank you and your many men and women who came to Korea to help us at the time.  So what do you think is the important thing that we need to remember about this relationship between Norway and Korea?

N:        It’s, uh, hard to say.


We have been speaking about NORMASH [INAUDIBLE] and I think the Norwegian people should know that we had been there in NORMASH.  I, I think that they could be very, very good

I:          Um hm.

N:        even important.  And other things that we are a seafaring country together with Korea

I:          Um hm.


N:        And I’m driving a Hyundai.  The first Hyundai 13 years, and I, and that’s a [NOISE] because I, something.  But no problem in, in those 13 years with a Hyundai.

I:          Huh.

N:        Today I have a Hyundai, 20 or I 20 or

I:          Yeah.

N:        Yeah.  And, uh,


the policeman along with[INAUDIBLE – GESTURE]

I:          Next  year will be the 70th anniversary

N:        Yes.

I:          of the breakout of the Korean War

N:        Yes.

I:          And that’s why we are doing this.  It’s a special, uh, interview series for Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs

N:        Yes.

I:          And this is the Korean Embassy

N:        Yes.

I:          in Norway, the Ambassador Nam and all the people here really helped.


And, for this project.  So do you have any special message to the Korean people who are witnessing 70 years of anniversary and we are still technically at war.  Do you have any special message to the Korean people?

N:        The main message must be take care of your


very, very good and fine history.  That’s, um, a very, very important.  You have to do that.

I:          Um hm.

N:        And I should also like to say that take care of the countries around you and in the world all over.

I:          Um hm.

N:        I, I should say that because you have so


much to give them.

I:          Very good.  Very important.  And we’ve been talking almost 1 ½ hours already.

N:        Oh.

I:          But do you have any other story that you want to share with us?  Any other story that you want to tell, anything that you think you should tell?

N:        I, I, I don’t understand [STAMMERS]


I:          There are too many, right?

N:        Yes, yes, quite true because when you see the pictures here, it, it’s so much the Korean flag, yes.  That’s a very good history.  And here is, is my, we have been quite a lot of and now [INAUDIBLE] yes sir.


One of the pictures here is [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Um.

N:        And she was coming, she was coming to our barbed wire fence nearly every day

I:          Uh huh

N:        [INAUDIBLE] because her mother living in the stone hut there


maybe in, um, but more maybe in washing or something.  And always she got  a little  maybe money, food or whatever.  And then they asked [KIM YUNG YUNG]

I:          Um.

N:        what should I tell [KUN]?  I want to tell her something very nice and happy and good

I:          Um.

N:        she wants her mother.

I:          Um.

N:        Well, and what should I say?  Oh, you should say [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Whoa!


N:        I didn’t know what.  And that is just the same all over the world.  I have been to Gaza

I:          Um.

N:        And what the people around there told us, you, you wouldn’t believe it. [GESTURE] Fantastic.  But [INAUDIBLE]

I:          [INAUDIBLE]

N:        And I, I remember her coming, uh, very, very, uh, at the board and [INAUDIBLE]


And then I said [INAUDIBLE], and she screamed.  And then back again.  I, I did many more peoples.

I:          Nils, I think you’re really in, in love with Korean people.

N:        Yes, I am.

I:          And I, I must say that that is the spirit of Norway and humanitarian aids, and you are doing that,


and you still doing that for many other countries.  But, um, on behalf of Korean nation, I want to thank you and all other people who served in Norway MASH unit, not just as a doctor or nurse but as also Guardsmen, drivers and cook and, and priest as you mentioned.  And that’s the whole story of NORMASH.  So I’m sorry.  I wish that I had more time to hear from you more about this stories.


But I think we must end it now here.  But we are going to make it as a teaching material for the teachers here in Norway so that they can talk more about you, and we have, uh, so many resources here you already published a book.  So we going to use that, too.  But I also want to thank, uh, Korean Embassy here in Nor, Norway to arrange all these things and providing the ven, beautiful venue.


So thank you again, Nils.

N:        Thank you very much for what you have said, what you have done, and I said [INAUDIBLE]

I:          [INAUDIBLE]

N:        Yes.

I:          Thank you, sir.  Beautiful.



[End of Recorded Material]