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Pacific Stars and Stripes, June 5, 1953

Pair Converses By Sign Language

PFC Aids Mute Seoul Urchin


By Cpl. Bob Campbell


WITH U.S. 25TH DIV., June 5-One of the strongest friendships to be found anywhere exists today between an American soldier and a Korean orphan who have never and will never hear each other's voices.  Although, PFC Adalberto Sanchez, Company B, 725th Ordnance Battalion, and his inseparable friend, Ko Duk Chun, talk and work together every day, they do so through an inaudible form of conversation. 


THIS STRANGE situation exists because Ko Duk Chun is a deaf-mute.  Ko, a few weeks ago, was a street urchin shining shoes and living in the streets of Seoul like so many thousands of other children to be found there today.  Then one day, he shined the boots of Sanchez.  The shoeshine meeting developed into their present close friendship.


"When the little guy first started bothering me for a shine," says Sanchez, "I tried to brush him off with my limited Korean vocabulary, but nothing that I could say seemed to have any effect on his persistent begging."


KO FOLLOWED Sanchez for the rest of the afternoon before producing a small card written in scrawling longhand English stating that he was a deaf-mute.  At this point, Sanchez broke into a joyful smile, for he, through close association with many deaf-mute friends in New York City, was capable of using sign language. 


"I'm thankful that this language is universal to people all over the world," comments Sanchez, "because even though Chun is Korean and I am American, we don't have a bit of trouble with the usual language barrier."

When time came for Sanchez to return to his company from Seoul, Chun begged and pleaded to be allowed to come with him.  Finally, it was agreed to take Ko if he could produce some type of credentials.  This he promptly did, showing that he was a graduate of the School of Deaf and Dumb in Seoul and had at one time been employed by another military unit. 

Slowly Ko today is fitting into his job as houseboy and handyman around the kitchen of Company B, but to one who was misunderstood and ridiculed for so long, it is a slow process for him to appear and conduct himself as an average person.




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