llbo, Jan. 28, 2001
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.