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Area I community relations officer Kil Kwang-chun hopes his new book of Korean War photographs will help young South Koreans to learn about the conflict.
Area I community relations officer Kil Kwang-chun hopes his new book of Korean War photographs will help young South Koreans to learn about the conflict. (Seth Robson / S&S)

CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — Area I community relations officer Kil Kwang-chun spent much of his free time during the past seven years collecting photographs of the Korean War.

Now U.S. soldiers serving in South Korea will be able to view most of the images, which Kil has published in his book, “Photos from the Korean War.”

The former Republic of Korea army lieutenant colonel and history buff amassed more than 1,700 photographs from books, the Internet, individuals and the 2nd Infantry Division Museum near his office at Camp Red Cloud.

He will donate about 200 copies of the book to the U.S. military — including two for each military library on the peninsula. He donated the first 50 to 2nd ID on Thursday.

“I’m very interested in history. Not just the Korean War but World War I and World War II,” said Kil, who retired from the military eight years ago.

His book brings together photographs from more than 50 other books and includes text and captions in both Korean and English.

“Making it bilingual will appeal to young Korean people who are interested in learning English. I feel responsible to make this kind of story for young men,” Kil said.

Many young South Koreans are not interested in the 1950-53 war, he added. “They don’t know which year it occurred or even who started it. Some people think South Korea invaded North Korea.”

North Korean communists invaded the South on June 25, 1950, sparking intervention by the United Nations and three years of bloodshed. Hostilities ended July 27, 1953, with an armistice still in effect today.

Many photographs published in the book were taken by the U.S. Army, which made them available for publication, he said.

The book arranges photographs in chronological order, starting with the fall of Japan to the Allies in World War II. It depicts major actions in the Korean War such as the battle for the Pusan perimeter, the Incheon landings and battles such as Chipyong-ri, where 2nd ID won its greatest victory over the communists.

Numerous photographs of U.S. forces are in the book, including of 2nd ID soldiers. One shows 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team members preparing to drop north of Pyongyang in 1950 in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue Americans who were prisoners of war.

Some of the images are shocking and some are sad, Kil said, pointing to a photograph of a decapitated communist guerrilla, a series of images from a 1952 rebellion by North Korean POWs at Geojedu Island and others of children orphaned by the war.

His book also offers maps to show the disposition of U.N. and communist forces at various stages of the war.

The book concludes with color photographs of today’s U.S. and South Korean forces training on the peninsula and a series of images of Korean War monuments, including one in Washington, D.C.

Anyone seeking to purchase a copy of Kil’s book can e-mail him at Gils77@hotmail.com.

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