New York Times, Date Unknown
Military's Mission Includes Also
Relief and Rehabilitation for Nation of 28,000,000
SEOUL, Korea, March 14- Every
American can take merited pride in the unexcelled record that our medical
forces have made here in Korea. They have provided our fighting men
with the finest care known in military history. Only by seeing this
war-torn city first-hand, however, can one fully realize that the mission
of our military forces here is far more than logistical support of our
They have the added responsibility for the relief
and rehabilitation of a nation of 28,000,000 people. No military force
has had a graver or more significant responsibility. The way in which
this responsibility has been accepted and the results achieved makes
one proud to be an American.
Picture the city of Seoul with a pre-war population
of 1,500,000. Four times this city has changed hands after the bloodiest
type of fighting. As a result, 4,000 homes have been destroyed and all
public utilities and industries were either obliterated or seriously
damaged. Smallpox, typhoid and typhus rates skyrocketed and thousands
of persons froze or starved to death.
As military necessity prevents thousands of refugees
who went south during the fighting from returning, the city's population
is now about 700,000. Through the efforts of United Nations forces and
Republic of Korea, public facilities have been restored, epidemic diseases
reduced to an infinitesimal number and the general population provided
with a minimum maintenance diet.
This writer and a mission from the newly formed
American-Korean Foundation visited this week a handful of institutions
in Seoul that are attempting-without adequate facilities, staff, money,
medicine or sometimes even food-to meet these problems. Here is what
In a Methodist orphanage situated in a former Buddhist
temple, a group of children sat cross-legged in their stocking feet
on the floor of an unheated building. Wind-driven snow and sleet came
through missing doors and windows, but 100 children were deeply engrossed
in a Korean fairy tale being told by a young adult who was a master
teacher despite his lack of formal training in education.
A few blocks down a twisted, muddy street was a
100-bed children's hospital that had 200 patients, with two children
occupying each bed. This is the only medical care facility for about
4,000 war orphans. For the 4,300 war widows and their 16,000 children
in Seoul, there is but one institution with a capacity of less than
The only institution in the city for the care of
the blind, deaf and crippled children provides food and shelter, such
as it is, for 120 of the 500 children who need such care. It operates
on a cash budget of but $50 a month.
For the estimated 1,000 children who roam the streets
pilfering and begging, there is but one home capable of caring for them,
and it can handle only seventy.
In the gutted ruins of a Young Men's Christian Association
building, fifty children, some of whom walk or hitchhike twenty miles
a day to come to school, sat huddled together in an unheated room copying
their lessons while the teacher dictated. This is because there are
no high school books.
Balanced against these terrific odds, however, are
assets-most of which are tangible-which make Koreans and their American
and United Nations allies confident that both the shooting battle in
the North and the social and economic battles in the South can and will
First and most important of these are the deep personal
and spiritual resources of the Korean people, who possess a remarkable
mixture of stoic courage, dignity and adaptability.
Second is the universal admiration and respect that
the Korean people have won from our troops, from Lieut. Gen. Maxwell
D. Taylor down to the newly arrived replacement. Innumerable units have
adopted orphanages, hospitals and relief programs that they support
from their own pay. Our medical officers teach in the few understaffed
Korean medical schools and help in their hospitals on off-duty hours.
Emergency civilian cases, including those behind the front lines, are
treated in our military hospitals. American and United Nations officers
and technicians work side by side with their Korean counterparts in
programs of public health and social welfare.
Despite poverty, an appalling lack of medical resources
and social disorganization, Seoul is not a city of unrest and defeatism.
There has never been a better example of "loaves and the fishes" feeding
such a multitude with greater understanding and dignity.
Note: This is the first of three weekly articles
on Korean health and welfare problems by Dr. Rusk.
By HOWARD A. RUSK, M.D.
Special to the New York Times.