This is my 2015 Postscript to press articles which laud South Korean's superior Internet and Wi-Fi connections which virtually reach every small hamlet in that nation - while the US has yet to reach much of its rural populations. Yes, there is a large difference in size between South Korea and the United States - but the point I am making is clear below.
I find it ironic - and illuminating - that South Korea has developed such a nationally complete, useful, fast and enviable Internet service. As one of just a handful of Americans who are still living (I am 87) I fought in the Korean War from soon after the North Koreans invaded in June 1950. I have often ruminated on how South Korea which was a very backward, Japanese dominated, poor agrarian Asian country while I was retreating from the Yalu River before the Chinese and Soviet backed North Korean Army in the bitter winter of November 1950, has become so modern today. With two Purple Hearts to show for it, together with the memory of 34,000 of my fellow American soldiers dead, and 8,000 still missingI left Korea in 1952 as it began to transform into, not only a free nation, protecting itself, supported by only a diminishingly small deterrent US military presence, but also it has become in the decades following the 1953 Armistice, a prosperous, Democratic, technological, thoroughly modern, nation-state. I pondered how that transformation took place from its impoverished darkest days with a defeated Army and corrupt government, until it recovered to become a prosperous independent state. Know how? South Korea is a textbook case of Technological Transfer between US military forces with its American military and industrial culture to the large South Korean Army during a relatively brief US occupation. Large numbers of poorly educated South Korean soldiers learned how to drive and maintain US Army trucks from our soldiers, how to use and repair American military radios. They observed the relationship between American soldiers and officers and their civilian - including Congressional - elected, leaders. They observed how our market economy produced abundance, while they were trying to build their own independent nation and its military - yet subservient to their elected leaders. So whom do you think set up the first civilian car repair shop in teeming Seoul as the Korean Army was greatly reduced in size after the 1953 Armistice? Whoopened the first civilian AM radio store in Taegu, to sell and repaire radios? What was the genesis of the trained work force working in small, then large, private companies and then spawned corporate leaders? They and their fathers first learned skills as South Korean solders supplied by American industry, after being trained by their counterpart - mostly low ranking drafted Sp4's - US servicemen - who taught them a lot beyond mere technical military skills. American soldiers taught them American know how and our political culture. Few Americans even knew where 'South Korea' was on a map in 1949. 65 years later we envy their national public high speed Internet and Wi-Fi mastery - buy their Samsung smart phones and even cars - from their free market economy. Many Americans argue that the US Military should be withdrawn from all over the world, especially from 3d World countries. But they rarely understand,much less observe or study, how US military intervention - in our, and not just their - national interest has had very long term transforming effects. Much of it coming from our Military and Political Technology Transfer. We dismiss 'nationbuilding' by US military as policy, while never studying where and how it actually works. I never returned to visit my battlefields, because the last hill I took fighting with my rifle company against an enemy battalion - "Bloody Baldy" Hill 347 - at a cost of all 6 of my officers and 165 enlisted men killed or wounded while we captured 192 Communist Chinese soldiers and drove their government's forces back north of the 38th parallel. That Hill - 347 - is now in the middle of the De Militarized Zone (DMZ). If I tried to go back there I would be shot by North Korean soldiers from their side of their failed dictatorship line. So I admire from a distance, what we soldiers accomplished by just going to defend South Korea long ago. A war that ended in a 'truce' but which we 'won' in more ways than one.
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