From Pusan To Panmunjon (M): Wartime Memories of the Republic of Korea's First Four-star General (Memories of War) Mass Market Paperback – 30 Jun 2007
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"A frank and detailed account by one of the most prestigious officers in the Korean War. It is not only accurate but fascinating because of General Paik's outspoken revelations of his personal relations with President Rhee and Geneals Walker, Ridgway, and Van Fleet. For any history buff yearning for the inside story .... Paik's book is must reading." -- John Toland
"This is the first major South Korean interpretation of the conflict to be translated into English, and thus fills a void in the literature."
Presents a wartime memoir of the soldier who, at the age of thirty-two, became South Korea's first four-star general. This book provides a perspective to a cataclysmic war.See all Product description
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General Paik Sun-yup was commander of the 1st ROK Division at the time of the North Korean invasion of the South, which commenced in June 1950, and it is these early days of the war which form the initial portion of the book. Paik remained in command during the counteroffensive, and led the 1st ROK division into Pyongyang. This was significant for Paik, who had been forced to flee the city in late 1945 when communists threatened. Paik then proceeded onto the Yalu. Of course, the course of the war was quickly reversed upon entry of the Chinese into the theatre of war, and following the retreat of the allied forces, the war settled into a stalemate. Paik, being involved as a field commander throughout the entire war, is ideally placed to comment and provide his views and experiences on all the major actions and phases of the Korean War. Paik provides a mixture of command and field level experiences - ranging from interrogating Chinese POWs to having a telephone conversation with a frightened North Korean soldier defending Pyongyang as the 1st ROK Division approached from one direction while the US 1st CAV approached from another. There are also interesting accounts of the interaction with American forces. The great value in this book is the Korean perspective of the Korean/US relationship. It seems that, contrary to the generally accepted view, there was a great deal of respect between the American units that supported the 1st ROK Division (which admittedly was one of the most, if not the most, capable Korean unit). Nonetheless, there were difficulties in the Korean/US relationship, and Paik does tend to tiptoe through these carefully.
Unlike some memoirs, there are a few (large scale) maps interspersed throughout the text that assist the reader in understanding the movement of various units. There is also a selection of black & white photographs. Generals Ridgway and van Fleet (Ridgway's successor as commander of the US 8th Army), both of whom worked with Paik, contributed a foreword. At times, the language tends to be relatively formal - but every now and then Paik breaks into a more casual turn of phrase.
"From Pusan to Panmunjom" is recommended for all those interested in the Korean War - this book offers a Korean perspective on the events of the war, a perspective which is in contrast to the multitude of US-centric books on the Korean War that are available.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This book presents his view on the Korean War, the events leading to the surprise attack by North Korean forces on June 25, 1950, the campaigns during the war and a quick look at his years after the War. Due to his position in the Army during the War (Division Commander, Corps Commander, Field Army Chief, Chief of the Staff), the book reflects the war from this rather high perspective. You will not find tales from trenches in the book, the closest you get to the foot soldier is at Regimental level! Having said that, General Paik comes over as a "leader from the front", trying to keep a close contact with the Operational Commanders under his responsibility, keeping his HQ as close as possible to the front. He also succeeds in presenting the sometimes breathtaking speed of the movements of Regiments, Divisions and Corps in a clear and concise language, so that even considering the too few and sparse maps it is possible to follow the course of the war without any mayor problems (I found myself most of the time skimming pages back to find the last map). This kind of book needs many maps, particularly with the many movements and (for the first year of the War) ever changing frontline. The reader is allowed a look into an otherwise little know world of field commanders in war, coordinating between many different units and nationalities (many years before the first Gulf War coalition), as well as seeing (for the first time) from the ROK perspective their contribution to the War effort, both positive and negative.
The book was originally written in Korean, and I suspect mostly aimed at a Korean audience. Therefore, sometimes the translation gets a little too literal and the sense of the sentences is lost or not correctly conveyed, but overall it does not really detract too much.
The unique Korean perspective of this War makes this book and absolute must for anyone interested in this War, but you need to know that the book is centered on the larger scale of units, written by a General - recommended.
I know that the ROK Army at the start of the Korean war was on the short end of a very long stick militarly. This book opened my eyes on how this force progressed to the point that when ROK troops were sent to Vietnam they performed outstanding service. In Vietnam I again had the a chance to work with ROK troops and they were great.
I think that one important point needs to be made in comparing the South Vietnames Army with that of ROK. We tried to do much the same thing in Vietnam as we did in Korea, develope, train and fight a army during combat that for the most part had to start from scratch, we made it in Korea but not in Vietnam. The fact that when he was Chief of Staff Gen. Paik seems to have kept an open mind on how to improve his Army, I am not so sure that was always the case in Vietnam.
As a old soldier myself, Gen. Paik come across not only as a good commander but as one hell of a soldier.