Byong Moon Kim’s life changed dramatically in June 1950 when North Korean troops surged across the 38th Parallel and attacked his homeland on the southern half of the Korean Peninsular.

Byong Moon Kim’s life changed dramatically in June 1950 when North Korean troops surged across the 38th Parallel and attacked his homeland on the southern half of the Korean Peninsular.

With the Red army swarming over his South Korean town, 6-year-old Kim and other youngsters were  taken to the middle-school playground, where their captors taught them to sing militarist songs.

Having experienced hunger, orphans, wounded soldiers and refugees under Communist rule, Kim will never forget the day, when “all of a sudden,” the North Korean soldiers – some of whom were very young – “disappeared.”

“Then we saw very, very strange-looking people – tall with blue eyes – and we didn’t know where they came from,” Kim recalls of the American forces that drove the invaders from his war-torn village.

As a 6-year-old, Kim knew nothing about America or its soldiers, he said during an interview at The Examiner promoting an upcoming appreciation concert dedicated to President Harry S. Truman and Korean War veterans.

“But as I learned more, I realized why America made that decision to send troops (to Korea), knowing that some of them would be killed or wounded,” says Kim, executive director of Korean-American Today & Tomorrow Center in Shoreview, Minn.

Kim came to the United States in 1972 on a scholarship from the American government, earning his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Realizing Korea was an unknown to many Americans, he established the center to promote better understanding between the two countries.

“I thought the promotion of the two countries would be very important,” he says. “And the center keeps the war out front,” where it should be known as “‘The Remembered War’ not ‘The Forgotten War.’”

To express their deep gratitude for President Truman’s quick decision to resist the North Korean invasion 60 years ago, Kim, his wife, Kyunghyang Park, and their two daughters, Sara and Gina, are sponsoring the 2 p.m. appreciation concert on Oct. 30 at the 2,363-seat Kansas City Music Hall, 301 W. 13th St.

Admission to the two-hour show is free; however, tickets are required. Each veteran or widow(er) of Missing in Action or Killed in Action will receive four tickets. Each sibling of MIA or KIA will receive up to four tickets, as will the general public.

For tickets, send self-addressed-stamped envelope to: Korean War Vets Association – Tickets, P.O. Box 1517, c/o Truman Station, Independence, Mo. 64055.

The concert, which will be presented in three parts,  features vocal and instrumental soloists professionally trained in the U.S., Korea and Italy. Vocalists will sing service songs and popular tunes of the ‘50s, instrumentalists will perform some pieces of Truman’s favorite classical composers and the 60-member Korean Choir of Greater Kansas City will sing the national anthems of both the United States and South Korea, as well as other memorable songs.

Among the testimonies are those of Mrs. Sunok Pai and the Rev. Carter Blaisdell. Pai will share her experiences of hiding with her brother in a cubby hole about 21/2 feet wide, approximately 4 feet long and 2 1/2 feet high, and Blaisdell will relate how his father, Air Force Chaplain Russell Blaisdell, rescued more than 1,000 Korean orphans Chinese forces were about to snatch from the streets of Seoul.

The program concludes with all Koreans present “dedicating the singing of the Korean national anthem to express their gratitude to President Truman and Korean War veterans who saved the anthem so that the free Koreans – currently 50 million, and more in the future – may continue to sing proudly.”

Showing their admiration for President Truman and  the American GIs who kept North Korea from overtaking their country is something the Kim family has been doing publicly since 2004, when they hosted their first Appreciation Day Picnic for Minnesota Korean War veterans. The theme of this year’s 7th annual picnic on Sept. 18 in New Brighton, Minn., was “Gratitude to President Harry S. Truman and Korean War.”

 Kim’s appreciation picnics and upcoming appreciation concert, he says, might never have materialized had he not been at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with his wife to enroll their daughter, Gina.

While strolling across campus, a Korean War memorial, with the names of eight deceased MIT students etched on it, caught his attention. Looking at those eight names had a “very personal impact” on Kim, an American citizen, as is his wife and two daughters.

Standing in front of the memorial, he thought: “These students that lost their lives didn’t come  back to their campus to study. Instead of them (returning), my daughter is here (today) to study,” because (their sacrifice) gave her an opportunity to make something of her life.

The impact of a meeting with Sergei Khruschchev, son of the late Soviet Premiere Nikita Khruschchev, also compelled the Kims to launch the recognition picnics and concert.

At a 2000 dinner in St. Paul, Minn., Kim’s discovery that Sergei and his wife were both U.S. citizens surprised him.

When asked why he became a U.S. citizen, Sergei replied: “I liked the freedom I found here.”

“I thought that was a profound statement,” Kim says, adding: “It was a powerful testimony of living in a democracy, where the freedoms are enjoyed by all U.S. citizens.”

Kim’s wife, Kyunghyang Park, also was born in South Korea. She and Kim both came to the States in 1972. They were married three years later.

Unlike her husband, Park doesn’t have memories of the war itself. She was 2 when the war began, and what she knows came from family members. But growing up in Pohang, located in the southeast corner of the peninsular Park remembers having nightmarish dreams about North Korean soldiers chasing her. Those dreams, she says,  continued until she arrived in the States. Then they went away.

After the North Koreans were driven out of Pohang, she returned to her hometown to find these tall American soldiers tossing chewing gum and chocolate candy at the children as they drove past them in their Jeep.

This was her favorite war memory, Park recalls, even though “I wasn’t fast enough to get anything.” Then one day her luck changed. A piece of candy fell into her lap.

“That was the luckiest day of my life,” she says laughing.

Call Gene Winslow, local concert coordinator, at 816-373-6087 for more information.

 To the Kim family,  thanks for your patriotism and your efforts to remember the role the U.S played in the Korean War and the veterans who fought in it.

As Park so aptly put it, “If the Korean War is labeled a ‘Forgotten War,’ we, as a Korea, never forgot it.”

And neither did the 1,798,000 veterans who served.

God bless America!