Friday, February 9, 2018

Kang Koo Ri

Spring 1951. South Korea. Mike Rougier of Life Magazine took this photo of five-year-old Kang Koo Ri. Kang was an orphan from a village some 15 miles north of Seoul. This village was located in the no-man's land between U.S. forces and elements of the Chinese People's Army, who were encroaching from the north. An American soldier from the 1st Cavalry Division found Kang huddled in the corner of his home, naked and alone except for the decomposing corpse of his mother, sprawled on a mat on the floor.  The soldier scooped up the little boy, and walked him back to the regimental aid station. Tears fell from his eyes as the boy stretched his arms back in the direction of his home.  He sobbed, but made no sound.

A chaplain cleaned up Kang and placed him in one of the many orphanages suddenly made necessary by the Korean War.

Life Magazine ran a few stories about Kang over the next decade - covering everything from his orphanage years to his adoption by a lady in California.  The last image of Kang is as a teenager - an American teen, that is. There's no more after that.  He has since passed into anonymity.  Kang would be over 70 years old now.

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