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Dec. 26, 1951


Sam Sung Orphans, Christmas Heartbreaking Sight In Seoul


By William C. Barnard

SEOUL (AP)-Christmas came to Sam Sung orphanage Monday and it was a heartbreaking thing to see.  Watch something like that and you know for sure what a lousy lot of difference a few thousand miles of ocean can make.

SANTA NEVER could have found the Sam Sung home-the low, sprawling, broken buildings-so far back in the rubble of Seoul.  But three American soldiers found it.  That's why every one of 55 war waifs squealed with delight and hugged to his heart his own, personal toy.

GENE ROBERT, a 22-year old sandy haired sergeant from Wymore, Neb., was so moved he couldn't stand to watch it.  He had to go outside.  So did Lt. Henry Glowacki of Brooklyn.  He has children of his own. 

AND PFC SIG FRONT, JR., of Wheeling, W.Va., said: "It hit you right where you live to watch those kids who've been hurt by this war more than anybody.  It hits you when you know you can ease their pain a little-but you can't ever replace their loss."  He was so right, too.  Dolls and red trucks, and toy saxophones don't bring back mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers.  Skip ropes and harmonicas don't rebuild a bomb blasted family home in a once peaceful Korean valley.  Toys can't even wipe out a terrifying childish memory of being suddenly and miserably and bitterly alone.

THE 55 SHIVERING tykes at Sam Sung orphanage all have memories like that.  Take a grim look at some of the case histories:  Nine-year old In Chung Kil was found abandon4ed and alone in a ruined village near Uijongbu in western Korea.  A South Korean military police.  Where is he?  Maybe he's in some other orphanage.  Maybe he's dead.

AND, AMONG the other orphans in the Sam Sung home, was Kim Yung Hi, seven-year old, whose eyes were so inflamed, a man loaded him into a jeep and brought him to Seoul.  His parents are "missing"-casualties of war.

IN ANOTHER RUINED village, north of Chunchon, soldiers found nine-year old Kang Su Pok who carries her little sister Kang Sun Pok on her back.  All day long at the orphanage, the black haired older girl, clad in a drab American sweater, carries and tends little sister-filling in for the dead parents.  There's a little brother, too, she could hardly bear to open them.  In a war rubbed village near Yonchon, her parents perished of typhoid fever.  Her grandfather and an aunt started fleeing southward with the child.  The bitter march was to much for the grandfather.  He died on the way.  Probably that's what happened to the aunt, too.  For Kim Yung Hi was found abandoned and alone and brought to the Seoul orphanage.

All the sadness and misery of war was in the face of Lee Su Pok, who has been blind for ten of his fifteen years.  This boy's home was in the bitterly fought over Hwachon reservoir section of central Korea and his parents are-"missing."  Once his mother and father guided and cared for him.  Now he is a desolated figure indeed-a thin, hungry boy with long sensitive fingers who pushes and feels his way around the orphanage.

WHY IS HE HUNGRY?  Well, hunger is the rule at Sam Sung orphanage where each child gets two handfuls of rice a day-and sometimes a bit of barley to go with it.  There's no heat at Sam Sung, either, and no light-but of all the lacks, the lack of food is the worst.

THAT'S WHY the three American soldiers brought all that food out for the Christmas dinner.  The orphans never had seen such a dinner before-beef, chicken, fish, rice cakes and even boiled eggs and celery.  "They ate till they popped and their eyes were big as saucers," Sig Front said.  "From now on, Roberts and Glowacki and I will keep an eye on the orphanage and do everything we can.  The hard part is-there's so damned much misery out there that can't be healed with food and money."




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