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Joong Ang llbo, Jan. 28, 2001

Mercy Courier Meets His Former Charges;

First Lady Lauds Him

By Park Hyun-young

"I hope Koreans never again experience a pain like the Korean War, which produced so many orphans."

Russell Blaisdell, a 91-year-old American who saved some 1,000 children during the Korean War by sending them to safety on Cheju Island, visited a church in Seoul on Sunday to pray for the people and the nation.

"I prayed for the future of the people who had become orphans during and after the war in the two Koreas," Mr. Blaisdell said.

After delivering his prayers, he visited various tourist sites in Seoul, including the war memorial, with some of the orphans he saved 50 years ago.

At the war museum, he stopped in front of the photograph of children who had lost their parents in the war. "Yes, they were just like this," Mr. Blaisdell repeated, pointed at the faces.

'This is a facial expression that you can see on a person who has almost given up on his or her life, is he said. i.e. There were so many kids like this at that time."

Early in the morning, Mr. Blaisdell delivered a letter addressed to "Friends in Korea" to a reporter. The letter stated that he could not be more thankful to Korea, a country that welcomed him so warnly, and that he wished glory and peace for the nation.

He also visited Jangan Temple in Goyang, Kyonggi province where an orphan he saved, Hwang Byung-jin, is now the head monk. More than 10 orphans chatted with him over tea at the temple.

On Saturday, Mr. Blaisdell met again Hwang On-soon, 101, who took care of the orphans after he left. They had last seen each other in 1952.

At the Blue House, Lee Hee-ho, the first lady, said Sunday, "Koreans consider you a true hero for what you did. The orphans you saved are now productive members of our society, and nothing could be more precious than that."

Mr. Blaisdell plans to return to the United States on Monday after meeting Prime Minister Lee Han-dong.


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