|As he strolled through the foreigners’ cemetery in western Seoul, Mark Thompson asked the caretaker why many of the tombstones appeared damaged—some had noticeable bullet holes; at least two looked mortar-damaged.
“During the Korean War, the North Koreans and later the Chinese were bivouacked here,” the grizzled caretaker said in passable English. “They must have gotten bored and used the foreign ones for target practice.”
Thompson, who had recently moved to the city, grunted and moved on to another group of tombstones. History was for the dead, he thought. He just bought some land adjacent to the cemetery and planned to build some new apartments that would overlook the Han River; too bad this cemetery spoiled part of the view.
“Come here, I want to show you something.”
The caretaker took Thompson further back in the cemetery to a secluded spot where a tombstone had been toppled; what had once been a stone cross on top had been broken, the pieces missing.
The caretaker shook his head. “Look again.”
When Thompson bent down and looked at the tombstone, the caretaker took a piece of the tombstone he had been gripping in his hand and bashed Thompson in the back of the head. The first blow wasn’t enough; he had to hit him two more times.
There would be others who weren’t that interested in history and he would have to take care of them, too. He just needed a little more target practice, that’s all.
Filed under Jeffrey Miller