My Father, Survivor of the Vietnam War


My father Jung Hwan Park in the Vietnam War, c. 1964.

He was a 2nd Lieutenant in the R.O.K. Army.  He taught hand-to-hand combat to both Korean and American soldiers, including the U.S. Navy Seals.

In 1968, he was captured during the Tet Offensive and forced to walk barefoot, blindfolded, and hands tied to a prison, where he was a POW.  My dad was forced to eat rats and fight other prisoners to survive, and he went blind several times due to poor nutrition.  After a failed escape attempt, he was tortured with bamboo shoots underneath his fingernails and a few of his fingers were broken.  Before execution, he escaped alone (by killing a few guards with his bare hands) and was the only known soldier who escaped his encampment.  He was then captured in Cambodia and declared a Korean spy, and for two years the Korean Embassy worked for his release.  He’s authored an autobiography in Korea, translated Through the Jungle of Death.  A few Korean history textbooks talk about his successful escape.  He’s established a martial arts franchise in America called J. Park Martial Arts, and at 70 he still teaches.

— J.S.

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13 thoughts on “My Father, Survivor of the Vietnam War

  1. I’m glad he is willing to tell the story because I know too many soldiers and veterans who find telling the story too hard; yet I think we benefit from learning and hearing the “true” stories rather than Hollywood versions.
    Peace

    Like

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