SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

LEE Chung-sun “from ‘Then and there’ to ‘Now and here’”

Scene #1

In early spring of 1952, seventy years before, a young soldier had been enjoying his life with his family as temporary home coming from the Korean War battlefield. His name was William Speakman-Pitt. He was taking dinner with his family having his daughter sitting on his laps. It was a scene of a father of modest and general house.    


Scene #2

In the spring of 1965 at United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Pusan, they had an unveiling ceremony of the British Commonwealth monument praying for the British Commonwealth victims of the Korean War. Mr. William Speakman attended the ceremony together with his comrades as representative soldiers of United Kingdom.


Mr. W. Speakman was a UN soldier from U.K. At the war alongside of the Imjin River on November 4, 1951, a lot of soldiers’ lives were saved thanks to his activities.  

In 2018, he passed away at age 90 and was enshrined at the UN Memorial Cemetery “His second home” in 2019 according to his dying wish. The funeral was conducted in solemn atmosphere attended and watched by his bereaved family, Government officials from the U.K. and South Korea, and a lot of citizens.  


Let’s go back to the scene 1 and 2. I found those two historical scenes in the process of my preparation of doctoral dissertation. In 2020, seventy years after outbreak of the Korean War, I explored his footprints as my academic research.


In scene #1 in monochrome, Mr. Speakman seemed to be spending his blissful time keeping smile consistently. Such a modest happiness as a father in his home rather than his mighty attitude at official ceremony of British Commonwealth (Scene #2), stayed in my mind more strongly. I do not know the reason why this scene left an impression on me. I have been studying abroad leaving my hometown. Did I imbricate myself over him?   


When I gaped at those two scenes, I recalled that his sons have visited South Korea at his funeral in 2019. And I sent a mail to a person concerned of United Nations Memorial Cemetery whom I was keeping contact since my doctoral dissertation. “I found a rare picture of Mr. Speakman who was enshrined in UN Memorial Cemetery. Could you kindly send the picture to anybody who has any connection with him?”  I got a reply. “I could share your picture with one of his sons. According to him, it was the first time for him to see the picture. He did not know that his father had visited UN Memorial Cemetery. Of course, he was delighted with the picture.”


I realized an importance of giving back my knowledge which I accumulate as a researcher to the society. If acquirement of knowledge would mean “understanding a part of things”, practice of knowledge will be a contribution to human beings and societies after finding the core part of things based on establishment of knowledge. I have been engaging in my research work for seven years in Japan and I focused my research on learning knowledge. If I would aim at becoming a real researcher, “sharing the knowledge” in society after “acquiring the knowledge” on personal dimension will be more important. If I apply such understanding to the scenes mentioned above, it will change as follows. Knowing histories and persons relating to the UN Memorial Cemetery is primary action for acquirement of knowledge. And sharing such academic knowledge with persons concerned of the UN Memorial Cemetery and sons of Mr. Speakman will be secondary action of intellectual constructive action.


Through my research I understood clearly from those two scenes that persons, things and matters of “then and there” came down to “now and here” consequently. In other words, bereaved family of Mr. Speakman could get back his footsteps of “then and there” from myself of “now and here”. Excitement of his son would be immeasurable when he saw his deceased father in the scenes.  


I like to acquire the past knowledge and practice wisdom of goodwill at the same time. I like to elicit effective and suggestive points which are applicable through the life from “then and there” to “now and here”. I think it is my role to help peaceful and inclusive society as a researcher of cultural heritage of the Korean War and as a goodwill global citizen. On the extension of such understandings, I worry about present Russian invasion to Ukraine.


I hope Ukraine War would end soon. And combatant and noncombatant, like Mr. Speakman 70 years ago, could return to their home and pass blissful time with their beloved families.  



SGRA Kawaraban 710 in Japanese (Original)



LEE Chung-sun /2021 Raccoon, Doctoral student at the University of Tokyo



Translated by Kazuo Kawamura

English checked by Sabina Koirala