THE MICHIGAN DAILY
SUNDAY, MN 29, 1952
Refugees, Blackmarketeers Swell Turbulent Pus
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series of photo features on
Korea. The author, who graduated from the University in 1950, is pre-
sently stationed there with the United States Army.
CPL. ROBERT R. KORFF
PUSAN, Korea-Even at its best Pusan, Korea could never be a
casual city-casual, that is, in the sense of being satisfied with its
past, content in its present, and confident in its future. Adversity has
plagued this seaport too frequently to allow it any measure of com-
Yet the earmarks of war are not evident in Pusan as they are in
Seoul, Po'hang-dong, or, perhaps, Chorwon. There are no bombed
buildinw6, cratered streets, or piles of rubble in Pusan. The physical
manifestations of war are not there.
IN THE FALL of 1950 when the North Koreans pounded at the
gates of Pusan in an attempt to push the U.N. forces off the Korean
peninsula, Pusan became the bulwark of defense. The necessary estab-
lishment of the now famous "Pusan Perimeter" served to remind the
city that it was not entirely free from the threat of tyranny and
Today, in spite of its endurance through the wear of time
and war, Pusan is too concerned with itself, too occupied with the
business of survival to be casual. The bustle and noise of big city
life are present. The crowds, the traffic, and familiar sounds of
metropolitanism rise from its clay and straw roofs.
The real tragedy of Pusan is a subtle one. Endangered by its
over-population, the cosmopolitan air of the city seems only a mask,
for it has the perceptible nature of an overgrown village. Thousands
of refugees, driven from homes in the north, have forcibly become
urbanites in Pusan.
* * * *
TRAGIC EVIDENCE of their disappointment lines the dirty
streets of the city. Peddlers and beggars, beyond description, are seen
either approaching soldiers for a "touch," or stooping in the gutters
for a discarded cigarette butt. Shoppers jam street cars with the
intensity of sardines. Children can be seen seeking amusement by
floating blocks of wood, resembling crude boats, in the stagnant pools
of the gutters.
Others, barefooted, half-clothed find diversion in jumping
rope or plating ball in the murky side streets. Perhaps these chil-
dren are the only ones who are certain of a destination, if only
momentary, because in spite of the busy scramble of Pusan, all
seems to be without purpose.
In the midst of the squalor, the uncertainty, the clamor, oppor-
tunists have flourished. Blackmarketeers are becoming rich. Tons of
G.I. clothing and equipment is sold on the back streets. In one shop-
ping section called "The Jungle" because of its density and labyrinth
of stalls, one can find a wealth of American goods, from cigarettes to
auto parts. For the G.I. who has ignored the Off Limits signs posted
on the houses that screen the market from the main streets, "The
Jungle" is as fascinating as it is foreboding.
PROFITEERING WEARS other faces. Children, anywhere from
six to sixteen, scatter themselves among the conglomerate crowds, pos-
ing as shoe shine boys. Although there most assuredly are plenty of
honest shoe shine boys, many are organized into small bands for the
purpose of thievery.
These well-organized gangs pool their loot and peddle it
through the aid of a "fence." The gang will alternate, working one
part of the city and shifting operations to another part when the
pressure of Military Police and National Police begins to close in
on them. The stolen goods invariably show up on the blackmarket.
This is not to imply that Pusan is a city of thieves. Such crime
only naturally develops among a people who have never had much
materially and who have suddenly seen their city spring up in a wealth
of war goods.
For all its indomitable turbulence Pusan would like to settle,
and assume at least a semblance of normalcy. But for the present,
it cannot. It is an artery for military traffic and supply as much
as it is a melting pot of refugees and U.N. soldiers.
It cannot stop long enough to breathe, pause long enough to dream
for a future, because the pace of adversity catches it in its swirl.
"Serve Yourself the Best"
BREAKFAST 7-11 A.M.
DINNER 5-7 P.M.
CLOSED - Saturday Evening
and all day Sunday
338 MAYNARD STREET
"through the Arcade"
A REFUGEE WIDOW AND CHILD REST FROM THEIR JOURNIES
ICpl. Edward H. Johnson
Ink, Zipper Note Books,
Note Book Paper, Brief
Cases, Greeting Cards.
SOLD - RENTED - REPAIRED
Webster-Chicago Wire & Tape Recorders
314 S. State St.
A PARADE OF" A-FRAMES TRUDGES TO MARKET WITH STRAW AND CLOTH.
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