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Date 17.07.04 Hit 419
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UnYonh KIM's Memoir 71(Graphys)


              


 71 A real Soldier, General Song Yo-Chan 


 

 


 



General Song Yo-chan is a person who has lived as a hero of troubled times in the modern history of Korea. I worked as his aide and secretary when he was the commander of the 1st army, Chief of Staff of Korean Army, and Martial law Commander during the 4.19 student revolution. I do not need to mention all his accomplishments, for they are already well known to the people.

General Song Yo-chan was the commander of the military police when the Korean War broke out. Defending Seoul was his mission. As Seoul was about to fall from the North Korean attacks, General Song immediately ran to the Bank of Korea and transported gold bricks to Busan.

President Eisenhower once visited the very front after he was elected. He visited the Capital army division in December 1952. General Song was then in command of the division. He briefed President Eisenhower. As if to answer to the hopes of the Korean people, Song suddenly shouted “Go! Go! Go!” during his briefing, meaning “advance north!” This was a very famous story during the Korean War. The image of “Tiger Song” was so powerful, that it made news in the TIME magazine.

Song is well known as a brave general. He made countless accomplishments in defeating Northern troops. Although Song was a stern man, he was a true soldier, a man of intelligence, courage and integrity. However, many times, he is only recognized for his bravery, and not for being a virtuous and intelligent commander. From his years as the commander of the 1st army in 1957, until right before the 4.19 revolution, Song was chief of Staff of Korean Army. The following story happened when he was the chief of army. He c leaned out corruptions in the Army.

While he was involved in these affairs, the 4.19 incident occurred. The government proclaimed martial law, and Song was appointed commander. As the battles of the people and the students became intense, the government stepped down. As the situations worsened, the power of the soldiers grew stronger and stronger. There were even talks of Coup d’état in military. In reality, a coupe d’état would have been possible. However, General Song remained true to his responsibility as a solider.

1961년 송요찬 내각수반과 미 국무성 Dean Rusk장관과 함께한 김운용 의전비서관.jpg
  General Song Yo-Chan and General Dean Rusk in 1961

After hearing news that professors were demonstrating at Taepyung Road on April 25th, I immediately reported to General Song. He was taking a nap at the time. It was an emergency, but Song told me to report to the Vice Chief of Staff(Kim Chong-Oh) and then went back to nap. He was feeling the passion of the people longing for democracy.

As Commander Song ordered those under him to maintain social order, but not to fire against citizens and students. He was looking for a way to protect President Rhee Sung-man, and leave the military while keeping his honor as a soldier, let politicians handle politics.

General Song was a big man, but what he had achieved was even greater. Those who didn’t know the real General Song, criticized his hot temper. However, for people like me, who stayed close to his side, we know too well that General Song was a true soldier and that he never stopped trying to learn.

As a new government was established after April 19, General Song was retired from Army to study, went to the States at George Washington University. During that time, the situation in Korea took a rapid turn. The 5.16 revolution occurred and a military regime was established. When the military regime was in power, they called in Song, who was well trusted by the U.S, and popular with the people, to become the Minister of Defense.

Later he also served as Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He led the military regime, emphasizing the importance of economic development. The 1st 5 year Economic plan was also initiated by Song, while he was the Minister of the Economy and Planning.

The military regime ended up breaking the promise they made to the people by establishing a new party to seize power. Song, after experiencing troubles with the military regime, resigned from his position. Song proclaimed in DongA Ilbo, “The military must do civil restoration and return to their original tasks.” These words were published on the Second page of Donga Ilbo, under the headline, “Messages to the Military Regime.”

Song had become an obstacle for the military regime and was imprisoned. Because of this incident, I was also taken for investigation at an airport.
General Song that I knew, was a true soldier; a stern man with intelligence, dignity, and integrity. He was a giant who showed me the guideline that I had to follow for the rest of my life.

 



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