On March 24, Tuesday as I was reading the afternoon Kalamazoo Gazette, I saw a picture which brought me up short.......A United States Marine on patrol in what the caption said was "near the demilitarized zone in South Korea". I guess I knew we were still there, but seeing the picture of an American young man in uniform, carrying a gun really brought the idea home. We have been a military presence in Korea for a very long time. My further thought was along the lines that we should not rush into any conflict in any country unless we are prepared to stay for another very long time and are prepared for our presence to alter both that country and ourselves.
Last year when I was laid up recovering from a very dicey surgery I ran into a series of books which the Kalamazoo Public Library does not own, but which can be obtained through MelCat if anyone wants to read them. They are five books by a Hispanic American writer named Martin Limon and they are about two plain-clothes investigators in the Army's Criminal Investigation Division named Ernie Bascom and George Sueno. The setting is South Korea, and the time is the 1970's during the Vietnam War. Both George and Ernie have been in Korea so long that it is home to them and the home that is America is just a distant dream. Ernie and George work out of a base near Seoul but their favorite hanging place is a red light district know as the "Ville", the people they hang with are not the cream of the Korean society, but Ernie and George like them well enough and they understand them well enough and the language well enough that very few of their cases remain in the "open" file. Below is a list of George and Ernie titles in chronological order:
Jade Lady Burning, c1992
Slicky Boys, c1997
Buddha's Money, c1998
The Door to Bitterness, c2005
The Wandering Ghost, c2007
The author, Martin Limon is retired from military service after 20 years in the U.S. Army, including a total of ten years in Korea. He returned home with a Korean bride. He and his wife live in Seattle. He is the father of three.
Jade Lady Burning