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War veteran remembers special friendship
By Baek Byung-yeul
It was in 1953, near the end of the Korean War, when Chung Pil-ki, 84, met American military officer Charles Worley while stationed in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province.
The time they spent together was very brief as Chung, then a Korean Army second-lieutenant, was transferred to a different post seven months after they first met. But the two managed to continue their friendship through exchanging letters, phone calls and photos for over five decades.
Their determination to reunite again was dashed after Worley passed away in 2009. In memory of his friend and also to provide a vivid recount of the devastating war, Chung published a book entitled ”War & Friendship’’ both in Korean and English.
“(Worley) then a U.S. Army warrant officer, was 11 years older than me, although I had a higher rank than him. Nonetheless, we quickly felt we were like brothers. After being in close touch with Worley and his family for decades, they do really feel like my extended family,” said Chung, who is also a veteran of the Vietnam War.
“The book is dedicated to Worley, but I also wanted to provide Korea’s younger generation a first-person account of the war experience. The ‘blood-tied’ friendship between the United States and Korea I believe should be held with higher value.”
He invited Worley’s daughter, Carolyn Worley Green, and grandson, Joshua Worley Green, last September to Korea and traveled around the country with them.
Chung, long retired from the military, is spending most of his time doing voluntary community work. He says he is particularly interested in helping young people, offering the spare rooms of his Hongjedong house to college students in need of financial help.