Memories of Korea Before the War

Korean War Poems by Monte Manka

Monte Manka wrote a variety of poems about his experience in Korea. Gail Martin’s daughter, Virginia, finds people’s memories of great events important to save. She created this page to feature Monte’s memories of that long ago time. Monte Manka grew up in Chelsea, Kansas in the 1930s, not far from where Gail Lee Martin was raised.
Monte Manka - Army days

1945 – Monte Manka (and friend) – Army Days

Here’s the younger Monte at the time these writing were inspired.

An Octogenarian Writes Poems about His Experiences in Korea

Monte Manka went off to Korea in the 1940s as part of the occupying forces after growing up on a Kansas farm in the 1930s/40s. His experiences in Korea triggered some poetry that’s entertaining and insightful.

Now in his nineties, Monte keeps writing those poems about being a Kansas farm boy and about adjusting to the very foreign culture of Korea and the restrictions of the military. Enjoy his poems and be sure to leave a comment for Monte.

Army Training Camp Poetry – by Monte Manka

You can read Monte’s poems on the Our Echo website. I’m linking to individual poems so they will be easier for you to find.

Learn More about the Korean War with These Stories and Poems

Most Americans have a very vague concept of what happened during the Korean War, how it started and how it ended. I admit that most of what I know came from watching episodes of MASH on TV.

Learn more about this war that made such an impact on this Kansas farm boy.

“World War II ended when I was headed for the invasion of Japan. We were called off the troop train in Kansas and told that Harry had dropped the bomb and the war was over. Can’t take any credit for any battles, strictly Occupation of Korea. I was in Korea during the occupation, the “Police Action” started after I left for home.”

— Monte explains his role in Korea

Korean Woman with Parasol – Photo by Monte Manka

Korean lady - war years 1945

Korean war – woman with parasol umbrella (Do not use this photo elsewhere. It belongs to Monte Manka.)

Poems about the Korean People and Culture – by Monte Manka

These are available to read on the Our Echo website.

  • Little Nell Two-Ten-Yen (If you ever bargained with a Korean over eggs, silk or hammered copper pans The bidding always started with a bid of Two Ten Yen.)
  • Hiking out in the Korean Boonies (A poem with more adventures in meeting the Korean people. It has great photos with it.)
  • Buddha Intruder (Another poem about exploring in Korea.)
  • Korean Wash Day
  • Stroll to a Mystery (Three soldiers going for a Sunday stroll Monte, Mac and Don With Addie Dean, the Red Cross gal tagging along. I carried Mom’s Kodak 116 ready to take any photo of some pretty mountain scene)
  • Rice planting in Korea (Fascinating photos with this poem.)
  • Cruelty of The River Han (The people build their huts close to the River Han To do their laundry and water for their cooking pan)
  • Break Time at the Shrine (here’s a snippet from the poem.)

Break Time at the Shrine

While hiking in the Korean boonies
I spotted this old Shrine
I stopped to take a picture
Of a forgotten time

I wanted to get those stone steps
Mismatched and rough
Walking up these stairs with heels 
Would be mighty tough

Timbers on each side of the doorway
One a log one hand hewn
The whole doorway
Slightly out of plumb

Resting in the doorway
Was this toothless old Momason
Holding a long Korean pipe
That she was puffing on

Korean Shrine – Photo by Monte Manka

Korean shrine (photo by Monte Manka) - read his poems about Korea before the war

Korean shrine (photo by Monte Manka) – read his poems about Korea before the war

Korean Women Washing Clothes in a Stream – Photo by Monte Manka

korean women washing clothes in river

Korean war women washing clothes in a river

A Sampling of Photos Showing the Korean War

Korean Farmer Carrying a Heavy Load – Photo by Monte Manka

korean farmer carrying heavy load - Photo by Monte Manka

a Korean farmer carrying a heavy load (all rights reserved on this photo)

I close my eyes

Seems like yesterday

When I was in Korea

Thousands of miles away.

monte korea (2)

Where Do People Come from When They Visit This Page?


Counter added May 28, 2012.

Betty – 7 years ago – “My Dad was in the Korean war too; in the Army. Thank you for your service, Monte & for the great poetry you’ve shared with us.”

Gayle Mclaughlin profile image

Gayle – 7 years ago  – “Mr. Manka–I enjoyed your poems! I was too young to know very much about the Korean War but your poems gave me a personal insight into that time and war. Thanks for the real-life glimpse of how it was!”

Joan Haines profile image

Joan Haines – 7 years ago – “I have read only your first poem about the kind and creative leadership of your Captain Knight. “Little Nell Two Ten Yen” is a great story. I am sending a link to all these poems to my daughter in South Korea. She is there teaching English. Thank you. I look forward to reading the rest!”

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