Korean War Poems by Monte Manka
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.
- Army Abbreviations – (Enjoy the humor of this poem about army abbreviations.)
- My First Day with the Terror Squad – (Got off the troop train I remember the March 1st, 1945 date. We arrived in Camp Fannin Texas as I remember, mighty late.)
- Four Days into the Terror Squad – (Another narrative poem by Monte Manka about training camp in Texas.)
- A Ton of Respect (A buddy makes it through a grueling day of basic training.)
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
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
- To Market To Market (Photos and poem about an open-air Korean market.)
- Just another Korean Shrine???
- The Korean Cafe (Eating oxen stew in a Korean cafe.)
- Surprise in 1946Seeing the sights in Korea.
- Walking on the Ancient SideVisiting a Korean shrine.
- Korean Farmer headed to SeoulKorean Farmer headed to Seoul – Writer: Monte Leon Manka. Year: 1946.
- Korean Kids and the Kansas FarmerIf you had a camera They were ready at the drop of a hat Posing for us to take their picture We took care of that. (click the title to read the rest of the poem)
- Korea Plowing timeKorea Plowing time – Writer: Monte Leon Manka. Year: 1945.
- Rice Planting Time in Korea, 1945Two Korean neighbors Hou Soong Yun and Hai Chon Lee Had prepared their paddies For rice planting… (click the title to see the whole poem)
- The River “Han”Poem about the flooding of the River Han.
- My LaundryPrimitive laundry methods is the subject of this poem, but it provides insight into the lives of Korean families.
Korean Women Washing Clothes in a Stream – Photo by Monte Manka
Poems about R and R – Taking a Break from the Military Occupation of Korea – by Monte Manka
- R and R to Tokyo
After visiting the Ginza After seeing a movie at the Ernie Pyle After coupon dancing at the Meadowland dance hall. We decided to visit the Imperial Palace for a while.
- Tokyo Girls
When I landed at Tachikawa, air base Turned over the straight-jacketed GI’s I had a room on the base To where I could unwind.
- The Emperor’s Palace
On the first of May Went to the motor pool. Checked out a jeep for a trip to Seoul. The street that passed by the Palace was six or eight lanes wide. The guard at the gate stopped me and he let me go inside.
- Rush Hour in Seoul, Korea
Poem about the sights seen in “Rush Hour in Seoul, Korea.”
- The Chosun Hotel, Seoul Korea
The Chosun Hotel, Seoul Korea – Writer: Monte Leon Manka. Year: 1946.
- Korean Notions
On the way to Seoul – To the 24th corps picture show I had to pass right by the Bung Chung Wouldn’t you know? (click the title to read the whole poem)
A Sampling of Photos Showing the Korean War
Korean War Poems and the Occupation – by Monte Manka
- Army Menu, Korea, Jul. 4, 1946
Humorous poem about Army chow
- Places I Have Been, (Mom’s Camera)
A poem about the camera that Monte Manka used in Korea and other places.
- On the Road to Seoul, Korea
A poem about the sights seen along the road in Korea.
- Sent on to Inchon
I was happy to be on dry land After four days at sea On a flat-bottomed Navy boat Called an LST (click on the title to read the rest of the poem)
- 29th Gen. Hosp, Korea
That old mountain in the back Looking like a sleeping giant, and at its feet Sprinkled with sleepy little straw topped villages Tucked together, ever so neat (click to read more of the poem)
- A Tenting We Will Go
A Tenting We Will Go compares childhood ideas of camping to the reality of Army camping. – Writer: Monte Leon Manka. Year: 1946.
- 29th. Gen. Hosp, CrewDecember 1945
29th. Gen. Hosp, CrewDecember 1945 – Writer: Monte Leon Manka. Year: 1945.
- Panic in Medical Supply
Panic in Medical Supply when the inventory doesn’t match up. A wry look at military rigidity.
- Troop Transport, Cape Cleare
A poem about shipping out to Korea.
LST – Writer: Monte Leon Manka.
- Death at the Seoul, Korea R.R. Station
Death at the Seoul, Korea R.R. Station – Writer: Monte Leon Manka.
- Korean Kleenup Krew
That pipe smoking Sgt And his Korean Kleenup Krew Took care of the 29th. Gen. Hosp. There’s nothing they couldn’t do. (click the title to read the rest of the poem)
- Mac and Hai Chong Lee
Mac and I were the first two replacements To the 29th Gen. Hospital, in Nov. “45” Since they moved from Guadalcanal Those who survived. (click the title to read the rest of the poem)
- Triip No. 2, to Kimpo, Korea
Trip No. 2, to Kimpo, Korea – Writer: Monte Leon Manka. Year: 1946.
Korean Farmer Carrying a Heavy Load – Photo by Monte Manka
I close my eyes
Seems like yesterday
When I was in Korea
Thousands of miles away.
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Counter added May 28, 2012.