Pacific Stars and Stripes, Nov. 22, 1953
TOKYO, Nov. 21 (Pac. S&S)- An American soldier
and a young Korean orphan today find themselves on a diplomatic merry-go-round
that may not offer the brass ring until next June.
The soldier, Cpl. Robert Elvena, stationed at the
Yokohama Ordnance Depot, has been trying for four months to get the
orphan, Lee Jong Churl, 12, into Japan. He wants to take the
boy to the U.S. with him when he rotates next June, and then adopt
But the Japanese government so far has rejected
Elvena's applications to have the youth admitted, claiming he cannot
be allowed entry here until the government has proof he will not remain
in Japan permanently.
The proof the Japanese want is a statement from
the American Embassy that the boy will proceed to the States with
Elvena. The embassy, however, will not write such a letter until it
has assigned Lee an immigration quota number and Elvena does not want
the embassy to assign the number because Lee would have to travel
directly to the U.S. without stopping in Japan.
Boy May Travel Alone
The soldier would be eligible to take the Korean
boy with him to his home in Philadelphia when he rotates. But, unless
he can obtain a Japanese visa for Lee, the youngster will have to
travel to his new home without his father-to-be.
Elvena meets with an American lawyer in Tokyo Monday
in an attempt to find some solution to the diplomatic barrier.
The Philadelphia serviceman plans to adopt the
youth, but not until he returns to the States. And he doesn't want
the boy arriving in America alone.
Elvena was with the 45th Div. in Korea last year
when he found Lee wandering homeless on Koje Island, south of Pusan
and after a futile attempt to find Lee's family. He took the boy to
live with him.
Places Boy in Orphanage
When Elvena transferred to Japan last July, he
placed Lee in an orphanage. Almost immediately after his arrival
here, Elvena began making application for the youth's entry into the
country. Lee is still living in the orphanage, awaiting the
time he will make the short hop to Japan and the reunion with Elvena
- if such a move is permitted. If not the two will have to postpone
their meeting until June when both arrive in Philadelphia.
By Pvt. Bob Myers