By Tekkatho Moe War (Saya U Moe Aung)
Loosely rendered by Hla Min
When the Korean War erupted in 1950 with the USA and China as the main protagonists, I was a child [probably too young to comprehend the details], but the interest in the war and its impact intensified as I grew older. Imperial Japan ruled Korea from 1910 to 1945. At the end of the Second World War, USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic) declared war on Japan [supposedly] with the aim of dividing Korea. With the approval of the US, the Soviet Union claimed North of the 38th Parallel. The USA took control of South Korea. Japan conceded defeat and left Korea.
The conflict between the Governments of North Korea and South Korea escalated into a full-scale war. With the backing of the Soviet Union and China, the North Korea army invaded South Korea in June, 1950. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) condemned the invasion and passed a resolution to defend South Korea. Twenty one nations (including US) sent forces to defend South Korea.
About two months – in the early phase of the war – South Korean forces suffered losses and had to retreat. Then, the counter attacks of the UN forces were able to “severe” the connections of the North Korean fighting units. In the middle of 1951, China sent forces to aid the North Korean army. UN forces retreated.
I am not trying to describe the Korean War in detail. I want to emphasize the intensive use of man power to engage in traditional combat. Note that there were occasional uses of bombers. During the three years (June 25th 1950 to July 27th 1953), there was a huge number of dead, wounded, POW (prisoners of war), and MIA (missing in action). The following statistics show the ghastly nature of the war. Note that only South Koreans are accounted for “South Korea & the 21 nations sent by UN”.
566,434 Wounded & POW
300,000 (estimate) Dead
303,000 Wounded; 120,000 POW
400,000+ (estimate) Dead
486,000 Wounded; 21,000 POW
2.5 million South Koreans
1.5 million North Koreans
From the list of casualties, we can clearly see the striking amount of dead and wounded for both soldiers and civilians. In particular, China – the most populated nation in the world – is estimated to have 900 thousand dead and wounded. Imagine, how many soldiers China must have sent to help North Korea. The News Media of that time coined the phrase “Sea of men” to describe the Chinese army battling the Korean War. One can envision the mass of fighters as an vast open sea.
We have witnessed two “Sea of men” in our mother land. We saw the first Sea in 1988. We are seeing the second Sea now [in 2015]. The poem “Sea of men” was written in September 1988, but it was censored. One does not need to think twice to guess why I wrote the poem.
SEA OF MEN
Water – drop by drop
countless drops assemble
as a water flow
Water flows – collectively
rushing, hustling, bustling –
transforming into a stream
to twisting, turning and winding rivers
to the whorl of the sea
Very long and broad – vast expanse
waves – agitated by winds – rise high
with grudge and anger
to put down [intruders]
It’s SACCA (“Thitsar” – Truth of nature)
[Rower] holding an oar
thrusting into the water
hoping to harness the wave, but …
[Helmsman] on board a ship
with engine roaring
hoping to split the wave, but …
Only for a short while
the waves seem to loosen –
with sprinkles and sprouts
turn into vortex with immense power –
stronger than ever
One can never break up determined men
It’s SACCA (“Thitsar” – Truth of nature).
September 23rd, 1988
The current “Sea of men” is not for sending people to fight as in the Korean War. It is SACCA [“Thitsar” – Truth of nature] that people, who had to breathe for a long, long time polluted air and strive in an environment with degradation in economics, health, civics, ethics, and education, WOULD assemble VOLUNTARILY in the hope of breathing pure, clean air once again. Does not one like gentle breeze? Does not one want to enjoy fragrances that are carried by the breeze? Sad to note that some of the drains that are left uncleaned are making the air unfit to breathe. Worse still, the defamatory attacks by some have further degraded the air quality.
As the November, 2015 elections draw close, we see “Sea of men”. People truly want to understand and differentiate the ones who really care to upgrade the quality life of lay people, from those, who tend to ignore the people and care only for their own.