Sweden Stockholm (5)

>> My name is Paul Olson. I'll tell about how it was when I went to Korea in 1953, I think, in February, something like that. I went there together with my wife Astrid, and she was a nurse. I was intern medicine, but later on there, I was head of the X-ray department. Can I show you ... >> Sure. >> ... what meant to show for you or ... This is entrance of the hospital. It's called Swedish Red Cross Hospital. Actually, it was Swedish Red Cross organizing this, and I'll show you. Right around there is some of the buildings. This is [INAUDIBLE] building, and we have another building there [INAUDIBLE] building. They are both royal persons, the [INAUDIBLE]. They were both children, the names, because they were the heads in the Swedish Red Cross Hospital. >> How Department of Defense you learn about the Korean War? You volunteered, right? >> Yeah, well, actually, I knew very little about there. I didn't know anything about the Korea before the war I started, and I read in the paper and so on. I think in our Swedish paper it was asking people to help, and I don't know exactly why I thought this may be something for us for my wife and me, but I had been working before right after the war in Belgium [INAUDIBLE]. I've been working in Germany, helping in their X-ray department. I've been working in Finland, the Second War in Finland, so I had some interest in going out and seeing the world on work. >> And your wife? >> Yeah. >> She said yes too? >> Well, she hadn't ever been abroad nearly, and when we went there, we took farewell from relatives and so on. That was the very first time she entered an airplane, and at that time, we went strolling down Europe and stayed for quite a long time in Cairo, and that's the very first time that we [INAUDIBLE] far east. It was something very, very new. >> What did you both think about Korea when you first landed, you and your wife both? >> We knew very little about Korea. >> Hmm. >> We knew there had been hard war, the front line going forth and back, but very little we knew. When we came first to Japan, I remember, oh, this is a poor country, and later on, coming to Korea, still more poor, so we thought, how harsh it should be to live here, but we were very well taken care of there at the hospital. >> What do you remember from the hospital? Do you remember ... >> The first day, I remember we were invited for dinner the first day we came there, and the head of the hospital, he said, "Now we are waiting for the hostile soldiers and airplane trying to make something." There was talk about getting peace negotiations because everybody wants the best position for that. For the first time, I think nearly in our lives, we were given somehow a drink so forgot dinner, so we were a little up and down right after a long trip too, so we were a little ... I don't know. But we were very well taken care of. >> At the hospital, did you meet a lot of soldiers from different countries? >> Yeah. They came from very many countries, and the kind of patients that came to this hospital should be those who could go back to the front line within a few weeks or those who should stay for days, a few weeks, before going to Japan where they made your long-term care. >> What kind of hospital MASH units were in Japan? Americans? >> In ... >> Japan, uh-huh. >> ... Japan, well, sure that was American hospital. The other Nordic countries, they had more like MASH Norwegian MASH-like hospitals in tents. I was actually there for a few days visiting them, and Denmark, they had a hospital ... >> Jutlandia. >> Yeah, Jutlandia, and they would always take patients direct from the front on the plane and could land right on the ship, so they were very effective, and I think they become specialized in head injuries needing rapid care. >> Urgent care, wow, so Swedish treated kind of minor injuries, not critical, deadly, fatal injuries, no operation. >> In ... >> Swedish hospital. >> ... Swedish hospital, oh, sure, they had lots of operations but no very big operation, but I never served in the surgical department. I know my wife was for part of the time worker there, and she told me they had patients coming from very many countries, and they had sometimes [INAUDIBLE] nighttime and telling terrible histories about how they were injured and how Chinese people coming in hundreds during the night and so on. >> What do you remember about Koreans? Did you see Koreans there? >> About the Korean ... >> Mm-hmm, Korean children, Korean people, did you see ... >> Well, we were there before the armistice, and then there were a strong many injured before, but after the armistice, July 27, '53, we taken more and more Korean patients, civilian Koreans, and I know I was working the X-ray department. I saw many places with terrible [INAUDIBLE] in the lungs with the holes in the lungs, and we were just discussing, how should we [INAUDIBLE]. Few drugs possible. Sometimes they got the treatment, but if they were to be out, well, we send them further on. We couldn't treat them there, and lots of civil Koreans, they were coming there to the hospital, lying in the street. See? >> Can you ... Mm-hmm. >> Lots of people waiting to come inside the gate, and here they are giving them DDT spray. >> A lot of children. >> Yeah. >> Well, did you ever go back to Korea? >> Yes, I've been back there twice. >> Wow, twice. >> Yes, one time I was invited to Korea together with a few other friends there privately, and we stayed only in Seoul, but that's 15 years ago [INAUDIBLE]. Now a few months in November, we were invited by the Veteran Administration in Korea to visit there for 1 week, and we were very well taken care of. We were many people coming from many countries. We were three bus loaded with people, and one thing I think was a little curious that we always had an ambulance following us and several nurses to ... Well, of course, many of us were very old, so it was maybe necessary. I don't know if anybody had to use the ambulance, but it was always a few meters there from where we were. >> That must have been very interesting for you because you're the ones that treated Koreans during the war and after, and now they're looking after you. >> Now ... >> They were looking after you. >> Yes, that's the riddle. >> Yeah, yes, that must have been very emotional, yes, and were you surprised to see Korea, the modern Korea? >> Yes. Of course, I was surprised. It was quite new, Korea. As I understand, Seoul was twice the size, maybe more, than when we were there before, and it was most modern city we think about, and maybe the change was still more in Pusan. That was a small city when we went. Now there were most modern, lots of sky buildings. I couldn't remember. It was nothing what I saw there before. It was quite new, but the mountains, I could see far away. I'm happy to say they were the same. >> Yes. Korea has many mountains. I heard that during the Korean War, it was very cold. Everybody talks about how cold it was during the Korean War. >> Mostly, we were there springtime, summer and autumn, so we had very good weather when we were there. >> You were very unfortunate. >> In our free time, we were longing for the Korean [INAUDIBLE] where you could taking baths and swim and so on, very nice places. >> So looking back, what do you think about the Swedish contribution in the war? So you have your personal, you and your wife's personal experience in Korea, but in a larger context, what do you think about the Swedish contribution? >> I think it has been a very good importance for the long time, I mean, because it was important that we could help them with taking care of the patients. We had about 150, 200 beds in each two buildings, so I don't know. Maybe several thousands of patients had been taken care of, but I think it's more important what has happened in the long run, that the context with South Korea and Sweden been very good importance for the development of Korea and development here in Sweden. You helped us, as I understand, with the context for Korea and maybe also for Japan. >> I saw where the Swedish hospital was turned into a national hospital for Korea. Have you visited there? >> No, I haven't visited that, but I know about that. >> And there's a monument for Swedish, huh? >> Yes, yes, I didn't see it, but I heard about it, but the Sweden, Norway and Denmark, they decided that they wanted to start a university hospital in Seoul, and the latter time in the Swedish hospital there in Pusan, they worked, I think, for a short time together with the Dens and Norwegian. One of my best friends worked in that hospital that moved then to Seoul, but my friend was ... We know talking about together [INAUDIBLE]. >> Oh, yes. >> Yeah. >> Yes. >> Yeah. >> He worked there several years. >> Your best friend from the Korean War >> My friend from medical studies, he was working several years in ... >> Korea. >> ... this hospital in Seoul. >> To help build it. >> Yes. >> To help train. >> Train. >> Mm-hmm, to train. I saw in the documentary that the nurses and even after the war, they were trained by the Swedish doctors and nurses. >> Yeah, yeah. >> Yeah. That's remarkable. >> I think that was important for the future education of nurses and doctors there in Seoul. >> So one thing that breaks my heart a little bit is that the Korean War never ended. >> Yeah. >> As you know, Swedish still are at the [FOREIGN LANGUAGE] the DMZ along the border to protect the border. >> Yeah. I was up there. >> Oh, you were? >> Yeah, and I was visiting the Norwegian hospital NORMASH up near the front, and there was like MASH. All the hospitals were just in tents. >> Did you watch the American TV show "M*A*S*H"? >> Yes, sure, sure. >> Oh, you did? >> Yeah, and this Norwegian hospital was quite like "M*A*S*H." >> Really? >> Yeah. >> Really? Oh, okay, so it was ... >> Well, seeing it, all the tents and what happened there, but I think have more fun in the American version in the movies. >> Well, I think the greatest honor for the veterans is when the war ends and there is peace. You know? Then I truly hope that in your lifetime, you will see a unified Korea because in this picture here, we have a very malnourished baby, and I look at a toddler, and I look at him, and he reminds me of babies or toddlers in North Korea, but as you know, South Koreans are now prosperous, and we are very grateful to the sacrifices of you and your comrades and the veterans all over the world whom I call my grandpas and grandmas. So I hope that, number one, we will never forget but two that there's really peace so that you know that you not only defended freedom for South Korea but all of the Korean peninsula. >> I will really hope. >> Right, to see that, and maybe next time, you could even go to North Korea, right? >> Maybe. >> Yeah. I hope there is peace. Well, thank you so much.