Having grown up as a child in London during World War II, Steven Hawes developed a mature view of life at a very early age. After serving in the military in Germany, he volunteered to go to Korea, arriving after the fighting had ended. He explains how he didn’t know much about Korea, having never been taught about it in school. He recalls the smells and sites of the shambles Pusan after the war. Steven Hawes also articulates what he believes were the views of the British on the war itself. When he is asked to reflect on the progress that Korea has made, he notes that it is remarkable how the Korean people were able to seize the opportunities they were given and become a leader in the world today.
Prior Knowledge of Korea
Steven Hawes explains that he did not know much about Korea before going there despite enjoying geography in school. He describes how Korea was viewed as just another part of Japan on the maps that highlighted the British Empire at the time. Students were never taught about the history or culture of the country, and it was never even given its own name on the map.
The Sites and Smells of Pusan
Steven Hawes remembers the devastation he saw in Pusan after the war. He describes the smell of a city full of rubble, hungry children, and lots of refugees. However, he also able to recall how helping the people there is a sense of pride as they were able to help not only the people there, but contributed to the potential progress of a fledgling nation.
British Perception of the Korean War
Steven Hawes describes the British perception of the Korean War. Because the British had just fought in World War II and were involved in several other conflicts, he states that entering another conflict seemed quite normal. While it was not something that people necessarily wanted to do, they were not surprised by it especially because they were aware of what was going on internationally. Steven Hawes also explains why he thinks that the war became a “Forgotten War.”
Reflecting on South Korea’s Progress
When asked about the legacy of the Korean War, Steven Haws succinctly and accurately sums up the outcomes of what he believes as a “just war.” He commends the Korean people for taking advantage of the opportunities they were given, becoming a world leader in just a few decades. He argues that the practical outcomes that came from a terrible situation were worthwhile and that the British and Korean people should continue to strengthen a positive relationship.