여기에 들려 눈시울을 적시는 형제들을 사랑합니다. 가난한 마음, 촉촉한 가슴을
간직한 사람들이 많았던 그 시절이 참으로 그립습니다. (지만원)
아 ! 동작동 이여.......
저.....끝도 없이 늘어선 은백색 묘비의 찬연함 이여......
그 비장한 숙연함에 고개숙여 선열들의 한 맺힌 절규를 들어 보노라..........
세월의 풍상에 깊게패인 주름과 듬성듬성 빠져버린 백발을 곱게 빗어 쪽지은 검게 그을린
얼굴을 안고..... 50년 인고(忍苦)를 견디어온 청상과부의 고난한 인생과 마주앉은.....
선열의 묘비에서 흘러 내리는 한 맺힌 피눈물의 통곡을 듣노라.
얼마 안 남았을 생의 언저리에서.............
가물가물한 세월의 저쪽 너머에 자리 잡고 있는 남편, 자식에 대한 한자락 추억의
편린(片鱗)들을 끄집어 내려 언제까지라도 눈을 감고 앉아 있는.......
노파의 어께위에 걸쳐진 애절한 삶의 무게를 느껴야 된다.
뉘라서 저들의 아픔을 대신할수 있고......
뉘라서 저들의 인생을 돌려 줄수 있겠는가............
휭하는 바람소리에 문득 고개들어 주위를 보면................
수천길 겹겹이 텅빈 묘비만이 덩그라니 놓여있고.............
그 황량함속에 무수히 묻혀있는 하나 하나의 피와 뼈와 사연들의 소리없는 절규가 있다.
너는 이 죽음과 사별과 인고의 세월에 어떤 의미를 부여하는가.....
그 처절한 생과 사의 의미를 니 뼈속에서, 니 심장속에서, 니 뇌수의 가장깊은 골속에서
우러나는 진실된 마음으로 느껴야 한다.
우리의 무관심과 거짓된 사상의 단편(斷片)들을 바라보는 선열들의 넋이여.....
결코 자조(自嘲) 하지 마소서.
번영된 오늘의 조국은 당신들의 피와 희생과 유족들의 고난한 인생속에 덧 씌워진 결과 임을
너무도 잘알고 있으며..... 원수놈들의 가증스런 마수로 부터 은인(恩人)의 두어평 남짓
조각땅조차 지키지 못할 만큼 허약 하진 않습니다.
선열이여....부디 고이 고이 눈 감으소서...........
(글 systemclub.co.kr 애국청년)
(Translated by Jae Sung Chung)
Title: Alas! Dongzak-Dong ! (National Cemetery)
Radiant silver brightness of the gravestones that are standing endlessly in row…
We bow to hear your martyrs’ heroic solemnity and painful outcries… and bruised and painful wails being oozed from predecessors’ tombstones that are faced with wailing hardships a widow has borne for last 50 years embracing her darkish face deeply wrinkled up by long years’ hardships.
She is now sitting in front of the bereaved husband’s tombstone with a knot of silver hairs not much left.
We ought to feel heavy mournful weight being loaded on both shoulders of this old widow. This aged woman is sitting in the life train that will shortly arrive at the final destination and she is now to recall dimming memories on her bereaved spouse and son who are flying around in the other world untouchable
Who can dare to bear their painful hardships and sorrows instead ?
Who can dare to resume their lives ?
Hearing of a sudden sound of winds, looked around but found only thousands of the empty gravestones were standing lonely in array.
There are silent screams of uncountable bloods and bones buried in the dreariness.
What kind of meanings are you going to give to death, bereavement and the hardships that you have long patiently borne ?….
You shall have to feel its tragic meaning of the miserable death and life as your truthful thoughts that will spring up from the marrow of the bones and heart.
You ! souls of our martyrs, predecessors who are looking down our indifferences and misled fragments, Please never be scornful of yourselves.
The rest of us are surely aware of a fact that today’s ever prosperous situation of the fatherland has been wholly indebted to your sublime sacrifice and resulted from the painful hardships of the bereaved families.
`And please be humbly noted that we will, under no circumstances, be the weak coward of inability to protect these graves of you, the heroes who had proudly saved the fatherland from the enemy’s detestable claws.
May your souls rest in peace…..
(어느 소대장의 최후:월남전에서)
가만히 있어도 땀이 줄줄 흘러내리는 6월 오후, 갑자기 헬기들이 줄을 지어 날아오더니
내가 속한 중대를 낯선 마을로 데려갔다. 김제 평야 같이 광활하게 펼쳐진 논에는 짙푸르게
자란 벼가 정강이 높이까지 솟아있었고, 희뿌연 논물이 넉넉하게 채워져 있었다.
띄엄띄엄 마을이 보였다. 숲 속에 묻혀있는 마을들이 송곳 같은 기운을 뿜어내고 있었다.
기분 나쁜 마을이었다. 아니나 다를까! 건너편 마을을 사정없이 폭격하는 전투기들이 눈에
들어왔다. 네 대의 미군 전투기가 마치 독수리처럼 내려꽂히며 사정없이 폭격을 가하고 있
었다. 흙먼지가 피어오르고, 나무 조각이 야자수 숲 위로 날아오르고, 연기가 마을을 자욱하
"따다다다닥. . . 쾅 . . . ".
직각으로 마을을 향해 내리꽂힌 전투기가 다시 수직 상승을 했다. 멀리서 보기엔 참 멋진
장관이었다. 이런 걸보고 전쟁을 예술이라고 표현하는구나 싶었다.
전투기 공격이 끝나자 포병사격이 뒤를 이었다. 전투기가 뿜어내는 소리는 부드러우면서도
둔탁하지만, 야포의 포탄이 작렬할 때 내는 소리는 날카롭게 째졌다. 검은 옷을 입은 사람들
이 날아다니듯 마을과 마을 사이를 쏜살 같이 뛰어 다녔다.
4개 소대가 마을을 하나씩 배정 받았다. 모두가 전략촌이었다. 억센 가시나무가 빽빽하게 마
을을 둘러싸고 있었다. 울타리에는 동그란 총구멍이 촘촘히 뚫려 있었다. 중대본부는 제4소
대와 함께 장갑차를 타고 마을로 들어갔다. 앞으로 전진하면서도 온 신경은 뒷마을로 곤두
장갑차 위에 설치된 기관총이 뒷마을에 대고 무차별 사격을 가했다. 사수가 공포감을 느낄
수록 기관총 소리도 요란했다. 뒷마을에서 총탄이 무수히 날아왔다. 바싹 마른 나뭇가지를
꺾을 때 내는 "딱" 소리만 내고 여운을 내지 않는 총알은 나를 향해 날아오는 것들이었다. "
따쿵-"하고 여운을 남기는 총알은 다른 방향으로 날아가는 총알이었다.
M-16 소총의 초속은 마하 2.8이다. 소리보다 2.8배 빠르다. 바늘에 실 따라 가듯, 총알이 먼
저 나가면 그 뒤를 이어 총소리가 따라갔다. 총알을 맞은 사람은 소리를 미처 듣지 못한 채
의식을 잃게 된다.
중대본부와 4소대는 피해 없이 마을을 점령했다. 빈 마을이었다. 장갑차에서 막 내리려는
순간이었다. 제2소대 무전병의 울먹이는 소리가 수화기에 울려 퍼졌다. 소대장이 전사했다는
내용이었다. 이웃 마을에 도착하여 장갑차에서 막 내리려는 순간 뒷마을에서 무차별적으로
쏟아 붓는 베트콩의 총알에 머리를 맞은 것이다.
모두가 그 자리에 얼어붙었다. 정신나간 얼굴들! 초점 없는 동공들! . .하지만 한 사람의 죽
음에 대해 깊이 애도할 여유가 없었다. 중대장은 기지에 남아있던 부중대장을 불러 제2소대
장의 자리를 메우도록 조치했다.
부중대장은 부대에 남아 작전지역에 보급품을 보내주는 잡일을 맡고 있었다. 식량도 포장하
고, 고국에서 온 편지도 포장해서 헬리콥터장으로 가져가 작전지역으로 보내주는 일이었다.
비교적 한가한 시간을 보내고 있던 부중대장에게 청천병력(?) 같은 명령이 떨어진 것이다.
그를 위해 특별히 헬기가 마련됐다. 그 역시 장갑차를 타고 질퍽한 흙탕물을 가르며 마을로
들어왔다. 오는 동안 베트콩이 집중 사격을 가했다. 차에서 내린 그의 얼굴이 사색이었다.
그는 나보다 1년 선배로 성격이 유순하고, 행동에 여유가 있어 보였다. 나를 볼 때마다 씨익
- 웃던 그였지만, 그날만큼은 얼이 빠져 있었다.
숲으로 뒤덮인 마을에 모기떼가 극성이었다. 손으로 아무 곳이나 문지르면 수십 마리씩
잡혔다. 톡톡하기로 이름난 정글용 작업복을 뚫고 들어와 마구 쏘아댔다. 독한 모기약으로
얼굴과 손 그리고 작업복 위에 범벅을 해도 떼거지로 달려드는 모기떼에게는 소용이 없었
다. 모기를 막는 방법은 정글용 가죽 장갑을 끼고 판초우의를 뒤집어쓰는 것이었다.
야간에는 방어 초소들을 잘 선정해야 했다. 전사한 소대장과 친분이 있던 제4소대장은 슬퍼
하느라 아무 일도 못했다. 내가 그를 대신했다. 병사들에게 초소를 잡아주고 대응 요령을 꼼
꼼히 확인했다. 임무가 끝나자 잠이 쏟아졌다. 배트콩이 우리의 위치를 알고 있다. 언제 공
격해올지도 모른다. 이런 강박관념에 사로잡혀있으면서도 쏟아지는 잠을 가눌 길 없었다.
전장의 선머슴, 부중대장이 그날 밤 전과를 올렸다. 논 속을 포복해서 마을로 접근해오는
월맹 정규군 3명을 사살한 것이다. 공장에서 갓 뽑아낸 소총 세 자루와 적탄통 한 개라는
큰 전과를 올렸다.
이튿날, 병사들은 대나무 작대기를 뾰족하게 깎아 가지고 마을 바닥을 촘촘히 찔러댔다. 분
명히 땅속에는 비밀 땅굴이 있을 것이라고 생각했다. 하지만 허사였다. 있다 해도 그렇게 찔
러서 발견될 땅굴이 아니었을 것이다.
불과 3일간이었지만 생각조차 하기 싫은 기분 나쁜 전투를 치렀다. 몸과 마음이 지칠 대로
지쳤다. 작업복에 갯벌이 덕지덕지 말라붙어 있었다. 헬리콥터를 기다라는 동안 병사들은 네
전우의 시체를 나란히 눕혀 놓고 C-레이션 깡통을 따서 시장기를 메우고 있었다.
기지로 돌아왔다. 밤이 돌아왔다. 옆자리가 비어 있었다. 그제서야 비로소 소대장의 죽음이
그는 몇 달 전에 많은 전과를 올려 고국으로 포상 휴가를 다녀왔다. 그때부터 많은 여학생
들과 알게 되어 펜팔을 맺고 있었다.
저녁 식사를 끝냈는데도 해는 중천에 떠 있었다. 식당에서 오자마자 그는 편지부터 읽기 시
작했다. 틈틈이 새어나오는 소리로 보아 여고생들은 월남의 영웅, 미남의 소위를 여간 흠모
하지 않는 눈치였다.
그의 침대 머리맡에는 언제나 꽃 봉투가 한 뼘씩 쌓여있었다. 읽을 때는 언제나 누워서 뒹
굴었다. 기분이 좋으면 18번이 나왔다. 문주란의 "돌지 않는 풍차"였다. 약간 음치이긴 해도
특유의 가락과 감정이 배어 나왔다.
고개를 약간 뒤로 젖힌 채 눈을 지그시 감고 마치 예배를 끝마무리하는 목사님처럼 팔을 하
늘로 치켜올리고 목을 좌우로 저어가면서 소리를 뽑아냈다. 그 모습이 갑자기 없어진 것이
다. 텅 빈 침대 위에 임자 잃은 꽃 봉투만 쌓였다.
그는 침대 밑에 귀가 쫑긋하게 올라간 귀엽고 통통한 황색 강아지를 길렀다. 주인을 잃은
첫 날부터 그 강아지는 식음을 전폐했다. 병사들이 안아주고 밥을 떠 넣어 줘도 먹지 않았
매일 밤 애조 띤 울음소리를 냈다. 병사들의 마음이 짖어지듯 아팠다. 어느 날 그 강아지는
천막이 보이는 모래 언덕 위에 잠들어 있었다. 강아지의 죽음과 함께 소대장에 대한 추
억도 바닷가 모래 위에 쓰여진 글씨처럼 조금씩 조금씩 소멸돼 갔다.
아래는 정재성의 번역
I have the pleasure of introducing a prominent writer in Korea. He is Dr. Jee Man Won, a military academy graduate in Korea who had obtained his Doctorate in System Engineering at one of the leading universities in U. S. A.
In his personal careers, he once participated in the Vietnam War as a platoon leader and company commander in mid of 1960s. Among his best writings, I have chosen the following essay titled as"A platoon leader's last fate".
As this war story experienced by a Korean 2nd lieutenant seems to be worthy for the Vietnam War veterans to read about, I have introduced with pleasure as follow.
Subject: Platoon Leader’s Last Fate
Written by : Dr. Jee, Man Won
Translated by : Chung, Jae Sung
It was an afternoon in June with unbearable heat that made us totally soaked with sweats that a group of choppers arrived in row and took all soldiers of the company I belonged and unloaded us at a unknown strange village.
There was a plain like the one in Kimjae in Cholla province, Korea that comprises of broad rice paddies where we found greenish rice plants grown as high as reaching our knee and the rice paddies were inundated with plenty of water.
There were several tiny villages scattered here and there. From the villages situated in the bush seemed to emit an invisible power as sharp as a canines tooth. Thus, we felt a kind of fear from those villages crouching in the bush.
As we felt an unpleasant feeling, right that moment, a squadron of the fighters began to severely smash these tiny villages beyond the rice paddies. Four of them were heavily striking as a nose-diving eagle. Full of earth dusts, wooden debris, were mushrooming upward and flown over the palm trees around covering the entire village with smokes.
Bang, bang, bang…… we heard of shooting.
The nose-diving bombers were vertically rising upward and repeated up and downs. It was a kind of scenic spectacles seen from the distant position that even made us think that people might say war would be one of the arts. Right after the strikers’ attack, artillery shelling was immediately followed.
Though sounds being emitted from the fighters were rather something soft but dull, the sound of the artillery rounds being exploded was that of a sharp clash as a fairly big piece of glass fall apart into pieces. We were able to observe that villagers in black clothes were hurriedly back and forth quickly as if they were flying between the villages.
Each of the 4 platoons was given a mission to take care a village that we had categorized as a strategic village. Much of tough thorny plants were compactly encircling the area. We could see that many of shooting holes made tightly in the village fences. Company Headquarters together with the 4th platoon riding in the armored carrier advanced into the village.
While moving forward one by one we all had to concentrated on the village located behind us. The machine gun mounted on the armored carrier, at last, began to shoot indiscriminately upon the village in the rear area.
The more the gunner felt fear, the sound of firing was getting more bigger and bigger. Lot of bullets had reached us from the village in the back. A bullet that left short sound of “bang” was the one directly coming to us but the one with the echoed “bang” sound meant the one flying different direction.
The bullet speed of a M-16 rifle flies at Mach 2.8 which is faster than that of the sound. As the thread comes with the needle, when a bullet leaves the barrel the sound of the explosion will follow a second later. That is why a man shot usually became unconsciousness without hearing the sound of a “bang”.
Without having serious damage on our part we were able to occupy the village that was found at that time as entirely vacant. The moment I was going to descend from the armored carrier, I heard a sobbing voice of a radio man of the 2nd platoon that echoed through the field radio handset.
It was a surprising report that his platoon leader was dead. According to his report the platoon leader was shot in his head by the Vietcong’s indiscriminate firing when he was getting out of the armored carrier right after the arrival at the neighboring village.
No sooner had we heard of this sad news, everybody was frozen at the spot where we stood. However, situation did no longer allow us to mourn his death. The company commander immediately ordered the deputy company commander to replace the 2nd platoon leader's position.
Usually the company deputy commander was taking care of the supply distribution jobs at the Headquarters including packing the foodstuffs and mail delivery works and etc.
Company commander’s immediate order to the deputy commander who used to idle with sundry works was a quite surprising thing to him.
Special chopper was dispatched for his urgent replacement. At last, with no exception, he also came into the awful village riding in the armored carrier. On the way to the village he was encountered with heavy firing from the hidden enemies.
Face of the company’s deputy commander who had just got out of the armored carrier was unpredictably pale. He was senior to me just by a year and had very calm and gentle personal character and was always optimistic. Whenever he saw me, he was always smiling but on that day he was totally different but rather seemed as entirely absent-minded person.
This scene had become his most vulnerable point since that time. Later days, whenever he came across with me in such atmosphere as something uncomfortable, I used to depress his loud voice using his weak point as mentioned above by teasing him as saying “ I have never seen such a face in horrible pale in my life”.
Mosquitoes in these villages being surrounded with bushes are something frantic. Their stings were strong enough to penetrate our tightly woven fatigue. With a single palm spanking you could catch tens of mosquitoes. Even the strong insecticide spraying was useless.
The best way to prevent from these awful insects was to cover your body wholly with a poncho and make sure your hands were in the gloves.
At night, the defense positions had to be carefully chosen. The 4th platoon leader who had particular close relationship with the dead platoon leader could barely perform the mission due to deep mournful mind he could hardly control for the moment.
So. I replaced his job by settling proper situation of the guard posts for the soldiers and let them know the instructions correctly in detail. When finished I became unbearably sleepy. The enemies already knew our location exactly. Nobody knew when they were going to launch a surprise attack. Though we were caught by such an obsession, we could hardly resist against heavy drowsiness.
A new comer to the battle field, the deputy company commander made remarkable achievements at that night by getting 3 enemies of the regular North Vietnam Army who was infiltrating by stealthily crawling between the rice paddies. 3 brand new rifles and a big ammunition cartridge were added to the seized weapon listing.
Next day, soldiers were ordered to thoroughly investigate the earth surface around the village with sharpened bamboo sticks in an effort to find any of underground trenches. We all thought that there must have been some hideouts under the ground. But everything was in vain. Because we had believed that no underground hideouts could be found by such a simple sticking method.
Though it was only for 3 days operation, we indeed experienced a detestable operation. We became totally listless in both spiritually and physically. Our fatigues were all stuck with muddy dusts. While waiting helicopter’s picking up, just beside the dead bodies lying on the ground in array, soldiers were gratifying their hunger with the C-rations.
We had finally come back to the base camp and I found the bunker next to me was vacant. I realized then for the first time that the platoon leader met his last fate. The dead platoon leader was rewarded several months ago to have a special leave to fly back home as he obtained brilliant achievements in the operation. From that time he started to associate with some of the girls high school students as a pen pal partner.
Strangely, even though we finished eating dinner, the sun was still in the sky, no sooner had the dead platoon leader stepped in the dinning hall, he used to read the pen letters received from the students. According to his gestures while reading the letters, we could see an insinuation that a lot of young girl students back home might dream of a this fresh and promising army officer at war in Vietnam.
A bunch of pen letters was stacked at the head of his bunker. He was always rolling in his bunker when reading the letters. Whenever he was in good mood, he used to sing his best song of “the windmill of no turning” sung by a female singer, Moon Ju Ran.
He wasn’t good at singing a song but had very good emotion and sense of tuning. He was singing and pretending himself holding arms upward as if he were a preacher who were about to finish preaching in the church. Now, all of us had suddenly become unable to see him singing no longer. Only the pen letters without addressee were stacked at the head of his bunker in silence.
In the company, he was used to spare his time in bringing up a lovely little puppy in yellow color by keeping him under his bunker. From the first day the puppy knew that his master was no longer around, he refused to eat at all despite soldiers’ repeated attempt to feed him.
Every night the poor puppy made sound something mournful that made all the soldiers very sad. One day, we found that the puppy was lying dead in the sand beyond the company tents. The death of the little doggie took all the remaining sorrowful emotions of the dead platoon leader from us all in the company.
Fortunately, I was also maintaining pen pal relation with some of young girls back home. The best girl I was much impressed was a lady residing in Chochiwon in Korea.
She was writing very neatly and had an excellent talent in writing a letter. Though we had exchanged tens of letters at that time, we didn’t reveal each other on private aspects. But we were always discussing subjects on common life stories only.
An artillery captain started to pay particular attention to the girl with whom I was exchanging letters. In the long run, he was asking for my concession every single day. “Hey you, 2nd Lt. Jee! I know you have a lot of pen pal partners” “you’d better yield to me” said the captain.
At last I had to make concession as he wanted to. Unfortunately, since then, none of us had received a letter from her. Nevertheless, one day a last letter was received from the lady.
She said in the last letter “ No matter who would be, people are urged to learn more and more.” Like her attitude that had deeply planted a detailed and neat atmosphere for me, the after-effect left by her last letter was hardly ignorable.
September 9, 2000