Sunday night, October 23rd, 2006 at
11 p.m. Mr. B.K Lee, a traditional tile setter from Seoul, Korea,
put the finishing touches on the ceramic tile roof on the Korean War
Children's Memorial Pavilion in Big Rock Garden Park in Bellingham.
This now completes the construction of the memorial which honors US
servicemen and women who saved the lives of over 10,000 children in
the Korean War. This is the only memorial in the U.S. or Korea that
honors US Forces for their humanitarian aid to the children of Korea
during that war fought over 50 years ago.
The tiles put on the roof of the memorial
structure weigh almost two tons and were shipped at no cost to the
project from Korea courtesy of Hanjin Shipping. Mr. Lee's air passage
was paid for by the oldest orphan saved in the Kiddy Car Airlift of
20 December 1950 when over 950 children were rescued by American forces
from the advancing Chinese army. Mr. Lee Kang Hoon, one of those orphans,
felt indebted to the American airmen who saved his life so he paid
the air fare for the roof tile setter to come to Bellingham to install
Mr. B.K. Lee stayed at the home of Tana Chung and
was hosted to dinner each evening by members of the Korean community
in Bellingham. Osuk and Kim Kwon met Mr. Lee at SEA-TAC airport and
took him back to the airport early Monday morning. Lunches for Mr.
Lee, park department employees and community volunteers were prepared
by the Korean Restaurant Teriyaki on Northwest Avenue. Other members
of the Korean community of Bellingham provided interpreting services
at the site. On the previous Friday evening a dinner honoring Mr.
Lee and all volunteers was held at the Korean Restaurant Teriyaki.
Mr. Lee left for Seoul on Monday, October 24th, where he has several
contracts to install this type of roof on traditional buildings in
Seoul which he had put on hold until done with the Bellingham project.
What Mr. Lee leaves behind is truly a Korean treasure.
What is doubly remarkable is that he was able to create this work
of art with helpers who spoke no Korean while he spoke no English.
Trevor Hamro, Bellingham Park Department employee, was Mr. Lee's key
helper. Also assisting throughout the project were Park Department
employees Andrew Nielsen and Carl Clark. Notwithstanding the language
barrier they communicated well enough to enable Mr. Lee to create
a work of art that will be one of the treasures of the City of Bellingham
The KWCM pavilion can be seen at Big Rock
Garden Park, 2900 Sylvan St., Bellingham, Washington.