Simanaitis Says

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MORE THAN 71 YEARS separate us from the outbreak of the Korean War, the subject of several of today’s tidbits. Another tidbit is as recent as The New York Times, July 30, 2021.

The 38th Parallel. On August 8, 1945, only two days after Hiroshima, the Soviets invaded Manchuria. “By 10 August,” Wikipedia notes, “the Red Army had begun to occupy the north of Korea.” The entire Korean peninsula had been under Japanese control since 1910.

On August 15, 1945, Wikipedia recounts, “the United States and the Soviet Union divided Korea along the 38th parallel into two zones of occupation.” By 1948, the two zones became two separate sovereign states, the Republic of Korea in the south, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north. Both claimed to be the sole legitimate government of all Korea.

Seoul lies about 30 miles south of the Korean Demilitarized Zone; Pyongyang, about 24 miles north. Image from

The Korean War. On June 25, 1950, the People’s Army of North Korea moved south of the 38th parallel. The United Nations denounced the invasion and authorized formation of the United Nations Command. The conflict lasted until July 27, 1953, with establishment of the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

Meanwhile, in the Homefront. Wife Dottie recalls her experience as a fifth grader in El Centro, California: When the teacher told the kids that war had broken out that day, the girls expressed worry whereas the boys cheered. 

Across the country in Michigan, when R&T friend Jon Thompson and his cousin were told of the upcoming war, his uncle warned the boys of difficult times ahead. Jon recalled his uncle then gave them each a $20 bill and sent them to their local hobby shop.

On the left (naturally), the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. On the right, the Republic of Korea.

Korean War Folk Legends. GIs were told to respect Korean culture. One tale, possibly apocryphal, is that land-mine metal detectors proved helpful in locating kimchee jars, buried by residents as part of its fermentation.

Another tale spoke of a marked change in Korean culture: Traditionally, a Korean woman followed dutifully behind her husband. But with undiscovered land mines, the wives were encouraged to walk ahead of their husbands. 

Pursed Fingers. If this walking precedence sounds cruel and demeaning, consider Hawon Jung’s report about “The Little Symbol Triggering Men in South Korea’s Gender War,” The New York Times, July 30, 2021. 

“The hostility,” Ms. Jung says, “centered on an ad the woman had designed for camping products. It depicted a tent, a forest, a campfire and a large hand about to grasp a sausage. With its thumb and index finger pursed, the hand image is much like the pinching-hand emoji, a symbol often suggesting something is small.”

Image by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters in The New York Times, July 30, 2021.

Jung writes, “Many men were furious, convinced it ridiculed the size of their genitals. They threatened to boycott the multibillion-dollar company, called GS25.”

“The woman,” Jung continues, “whose identity has been withheld by the company for her safety, desperately tried to defuse the situation. ‘I do not support any ideology,’ she said in an online statement in May. She denied that her design was a veiled ‘expression of hate for men.’ “

“Nonetheless,” Jung writes, “GS25 disciplined her and publicly apologized.”

Gee, why don’t the men just resume walking in front again? Maybe there’s still some leftover UXO. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2021 

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