My Life at Seoul National University and Ham Radio

Though it was an accident that I got into Seoul National University, there were so many things happened, accomplished and left a lot of memory during those college days. As I have explained earlier, mistake reading my watch made me to enter the Electrical Engineering Dept. of Seoul National University. However, from the first year on campus, I thought of transferring to the Communication Engineering Dept always and came up to an idea to go to foreign school, as going abroad was so popular at the time and many students went abroad, especially to U. S. A. which encouraged me to think about it too.  Yet, because of my singular personality, I didn't like to go to U. S. A. as everyone was going. Rather, I preferred to go to Germany instead as I thought Germany was the country of more advanced of technology, diligence and thriftiness. However, I heard that it would be easy to make money in United States as a student, but in Germany, after the World War II, it would be very hard to get the job as a foreign student. Also, there were not many chances for a foreign student like me to get a scholarship either. Moreover, my hand-to-mouth living family could not spare me for the tuition.

Therefore, I started learning the German language, made pen pals in Germany and communicated with them using mixed German and English. After months, a plant manager of a fabric company near Stuttgart, whom I was well acquainted with as a pen pal, kindly offered me free stay and meal at his house if I come to Germany. So I applied to Stuttgart Engineering College and got the admission. I practiced German conversation in FLI (Foreign Language Institute) of Seoul National University for three months to be able to command some basic conversations with a German teacher.  

I needed a typewriter to prepare documents such as applications, but the only typewriter my father used to have when he was in United States had been lost during the Korean War. One of my cousins had a very old typewriter and I went to her house at Myongryoondong very often to type all those required docunets. I started to use typewriter at this time but never dreamed it would be so helpful for me to use a computer today.  

Since I was going to go to Germany, practically giving up the Seoul National Universsity, I didn't work hard at the SNU but just hard enough to finish 2nd semester of the first year with my cousin Dong Ik who also wanted to go to United States. When we passed the government exam to study abroad and were about to apply for the passport, the capricious Korean government changed its policy so that every male student who wanted to study abroad had to have completed his military service first.

Since even the sons of the national celebrities like Byung-Ock Cho, Chief Police Officer of Korea, and Eek-Hee Shin, the Chairman of the Congress, had volunteered to join the army, there were not many choices for feeble civilians like me except to join the army. Dong Ik and I submitted a notice of absence to the universities and volunteered to join the army. We were sent to Nonsan boot camp on August 1955 when we completed the 1st semester of the 2nd year in the Universities.

At the Nonsan boot camp, we were assigned to a stand-by regiment for the first few days. For the night watch, we needed to wake up in the middle of the night. About 40 soldiers in a platoon stayed in barracks, so 8 soldiers had to be enough for one night watch, if everyone watched for an hour. However, even before 2:00 AM, somebody woke me up saying it was my turn to stand. I could not figure out how each of the 40 soldiers took less than 4 hours for each their turns. On the first night, a fellow soldier of mine was to stand watch second time in a night but he didn't as he was mad, which was discovered by a drill sergeant as there was no guard in our platoon. Everyone was woken up and received a beating on the buttocks with a rod. This was my first night at Nonsan boot camp. (Since that time on, this incident kept happening but never got noticed again.)

After three days of lazy stand-by regiment, we were deployed to the 28th regiment. The commander of the regiment, either a major or lieutenant colonel, showed us a bowl full of rice on the first day and encouraged us to report to him if any of us got less than that. He said that he would never allow any officer to embezzle rice for the soldiers in the regiment. Thanks to him, we never suffered hunger as some soldiers in another regiment did.

The commander of the 28th regiment was very nice to us and treated us with respect. Most of us were college boys planning to study abroad and very smart. Some of us were sons of celebrities such as congress men, high officers, and distinguished families. Thanks to them, we did not have a hard time at boot camp. One day, while patrolling, the commander spotted a drill sergeant sleeping on the table in the P. X.. He was very angry at him and ordered him to stay naked in a water filled dugout for an hour. He said that the P. X. is the only place for the new trainees who were utterly exhausted, not the place for a drill sergeant like him to sleep disturbing the trainees. Thanks to our own commander, we escaped all the hardness of the boot camp.  

I did not believe in sleeping and walking at the same time but it was true. Due to extreme fatigue, I used to fall in a trance while marching with my head on the shoulder of the person marching next to me. But all the drill instructors were especially lenient to the 28th regiment. Thanks to the generous commander. However, a big incident happened one day, when it was about time to close the first half period of the eight weeks training. A drunken sergeant came to the platoon and ordered us to clean the toilet. The fugleman, who used to be a chairman of the steering committee of Business School of Seoul National University, of a large and robust frame, argued with him that, not only it was not our platoon's turn, but also we would not obey the order of drunken sergeant. The argument progressed into a fist fight which was stopped by an officer on night duty. After listening to the story and figuring out that it was more drunken sergeant's fault, the 1st lieutenant ordered us to go back to sleep and took the sergeant away. It seemed everything was over and O.K.

However, the next day, it was the day of crawling training. all the training which had been so easy was suddenly very hard. The officer who was on duty last night must have told the instructor to give us a very hard time. All the training was to be matched with exactly what the manual said. Nobody could complain about it since we were supposed to be trained according to the manual. While we were crawling up to the hill, the instructor laid down and kept watching us. If any belly was found off the ground, we had to go back to the starting line and crawl all over again for up to 100 meters. After repeating this several times, all of us were utterly exhausted. Since it was the sergeant's fault primarily, the officer could not blame us. However, he wanted us to pay for our disobedience to the superior rank. This was his idea to make it even. So it was the longest day in boot camp for us who used to be smart university students.

I somehow managed to complete the 1st half of the training for 8 weeks in this way. Since I suffered a severe stomach ache when I was in high school, I preferred to take the smallest portion of every meal while every body was looking for big meal. I did not smoke so I traded my rations of cigarettes for crackers. The crackers never failed to give me diarrhea as I drank a lot of water together. So I realized that I could get excused from training by feigning severe diarrhea. Every problem has a solution. I could make the diarrhea stop by having the crackers without drinking water at all. How amazing!

I was very glad to see my family and relatives when they came to visit. My parents came often. Myong-Hee, the daughter of my eldest sister, came a couple of times. On Sundays, I met them at the visitor center and ate all kinds of delicious food they brought. Regardless how easy the training was, it was still a hard life for us and I could not wait for the last day of the training. I marked an X for every day on the calendar to count how many days are left. However, if I think about it now, boot camp was not that bad with some funs and a good opportunity for me to strengthen patience. Therefore, I recommend all young men to experience the army once.

When the first half of training ended in October, I was hospitalized in Nonsan Army Hospital , pretending as if I am sick, transferred to the Yoosung Army Hospital and Onyang Army Hospital later. One of my relative who was the military medical doctor helped me to do this. There, I stayed a few months until I was discharged as a disabled soldier. I doubt any of my camp mates completed his full 3 years term in the army. It was very common and just the way it turned out in Korea at the time. If they hadn't been sure of an early discharge, they would not have volunteered.  

One more episode is that when I was in the army hospital, I took my days off and came to Seoul. I happened to pass by a female officer without a salute because I did not feel comfortable saluting a female. So she stopped me and admonished me for a while. A private did not salute an officer? What nerve! When I returned to the hospital, I was called up by a personnel officer. He yelled at me saying, "How dare you not salute an officer?" After looking into my personal history card, he said, "You scum from Chungju High School? I'm from Chungju, too. Well, you are dismissed. "Thanks to provincialism. I could tide over any severe punishment. I heard a funny story about a soldier who was in the same situation as me. He took the female officer's cap, put it on a beggar in the street and saluted him.

After discharge, when I was going to process a passport, I received a letter from my old pen pal in Germany. He wrote that he became ill, quit the job and was hospitalized. So, he would not be able to let me stay at his house. This was a terrible news. I took all the troubles to join the army so that I could go to Germany. All my efforts had been in vain. However, I had no choice but to give up to study in Germany and return to Seoul National University. (This very lucky guy had this kind of misfortune too. Or, maybe I would rather think I was still lucky that I did not go to Germany, so that I could enjoy all my actual life until today.)  

Since my dream of studying in Germany was shattered, I decided to study hard as a sophomore to finish my engineering degree at SNU. However, I was still very much interested in electronics much more than the electrical engineering major that I registered in. So I took all the required subjects of electrical engineering course but took all optional classes at electronics course, taking practically two courses for two and half years. (Before joining the army, I acquired credits that I could finish within two and half years in September.) Hence I have many fellow students: those who entered at the same time as me, those who returned at the same time as me, classmates in electronics, classmates in electrical engineering, and September alumni. I don't know which ones are my real fellow students.

Samsung Electronics style tries to move its employees around all the departments in order to make them well-rounded workers who know everything but nothing in deep, whereas corporations in America want their employees to stay in a department all the way to become experts. From the point of view of Samsung Electronics, I was a well-rounded student. But, I would be an incompetent worker in U. S. corporations. I worked at Gold Star as a radio design engineer, where I had a hard time because I did not have much knowledge about designing radios. However, I was respected when I was a manager in Semikor and KMI later because of my broad range of knowledge.

My dream of staying at the school and becoming a researcher was completely vaporized. I suffered all kinds of anxieties for a year during the whole sophomore year, such as "Should I switch major to electronics or not" which progressed into the reasoning of "Why was I born?", "Why do I exist?", "What is the reason human lives?". After a year of anxiety, I made a conclusion to my value of "Enjoy Today", as I wrote in previous chapter separately in detail. Now, I'd like to tell other stories.

Though I took the entrance exam for the Engineering College in Yongdoodong, I attended school in Shingongduckdong near Taenung where there is a Military Academy, the Korean West Point. Gongduckdong became such a busy street of Seoul now but it was suburban with lots of pear orchards at the time. From my home in Donamdong to school, I had to take a bus or trolley to Jongro 4th street, walk up to East Gate, take another bus or trolley to Chungryangree and take another bus or train to Shingongduckdong. The detouring took me almost one-and-half hours to arrive at school.  

Returning to school, I commuted from home for half a year, after which I rented a small room from a mud-wall hut in front of the school therefore. I could eat at the school cafeteria. (There were few more than ten students like me who paid the cafeteria in advance for a month and ate 3 meals.) As the most popular menu of the cafeteria was pork cutlets which they made a lot and gave us left-over pork cutlet for lunch and dinner almost every day, though they served rice and soup at breakfast at least. Because I loved meat so much, I enjoyed pork cutlets for two years, and still do, though those who did not love meat must have had hard times.

The big events happened during those four and half years in the university were - I attempted to study in Germany, served in the army, established my philosophy of life, dated my future wife, and acquired an enthusiasm in ham radio. The first three events were already introduced and now it is time for the last two events.

I've already talked about the time when I was in Chungju High School and how I met my classmate Koo-Hyuk Im. I said already I often went over to Im's house but didn't even notice his sister at all. When I entered university and moved to Seoul from Chungju, I went his house at Bookahyundong but couldn't find his house with the address only. (His family moved to Seoul about 1 year earlier.) I asked around for hours to find his house but had to give up though I was kind of an expert in finding houses without any specific information. I also asked the postman walking by if he knew where Im's house number was but he had no idea too.  So, all I could do was to write a letter to him and, finally, I could meet him. Later, I found I had wandered around his house so many times actually but missed his home. Because house numbering system in Seoul, which is actually Japanese sytem, is so disorganized and it is really hard to find the house with address only, because house numbers are all scattered around as they assigned in sequence of the house was built within same "dong", the smallest official area but still quite large area.

I often went to his house again after I finally found him. However, I began to be interested in his sister, who was grown much more and sometimes brought fruit for us and talked with her brother's friend, after I was discharged from army and returned to the college.  She went to Ehwa Girl's High School.  It was the time when I really started to get to know her and we became acquainted this way very gradually. On the 1st. day of September, 1957, for the first time, I went out on a date(?) with her, if you call it date, when Koo-Hyuk, his sister, my sister Dong-Hyun and I went to Jakyakdo in Inchon. (Not that I have a good memory but I have few pictures on that day with the date written on the back).  I was a junior in college and she was a senior in Ehwa Girl's High School at that time. On that day, four of us had a great time in Jakyakdo and, maybe, I could say it was our first date.

After that, we did not have any dating for a while except I went to her high school graduation and took pictures of her and again to Ehwa Women's University to take pictures of her to celebrate on her first day of university. I mean that was it.  Nothing really happened between us until a summer night of 1958 when I asked her to go out to a German symphony orchestra performed waltz of Johan Strauss in Duksoo Palace in Seoul . It was our first time to go out, just two of us. She was willing to go out with me and it seemed nobody was against it among her family. Since then, we dated more often. We went to the movies and coffee shops, which were only places we could go for dating at the time. (Everyone in our ages would have done the same.) At most, we went often to a pear orchard near Engineering College too. Because we became closer gradually as time went by this way, I don't know who became interested in whom first and who was more into whom. Sorry to disappoint you if you might have expected any dramatic or special events between us because it just happened slowly and gradually.

As we dated more and more often, both of our parents also noticed that we were seeing each other, and yet her mother at that time was little concerned about her daughter, as she was too young for marriage and the boys could easily change their minds. Her father also sent her on an errand away on purpose often so that she couldn't see me when I visited her house (though I didn't even notice that).  However, my friend Koo-Hyuk, her brother, went out from time to time somewhere intentionally just to make two of us to meet freely without him. Fortunately, later on, both of our parents accepted the facts and allowed us to go out on a date and I didn't have any particular problems seeing her after that.  Therefore, we had been dating until we were engaged in May 1961 for three years. (Sometimes, I brag about my patience because I waited for her until she graduated from university for four years.)

The first time I made a radio was when I was in the seventh grade. We moved to Sungbookdong, Seoul from Chungsan and Sung-Koo's mother, who used to be a teacher at Namsan Elementary School, brought me a kit from school, which was able to make a crystal radio, the simplest radio not requiring any battery or any power source. Since I made that radio and listened to KBS, I was fascinated with it. After that, I started a hobby of radio, assembling the radio, breaking it into pieces and reassembling it again. That was when I made up my mind to major in Telecommunication Engineering.  

Since I was interested in radio, I always fixed my own radio at home whenever it didn't work.  The first time I heard about the "Amateur Radio" was the summer of 1954.  It was only a few days after I entered Seoul National University as an engineering student. In those days, the technology of telecommunication wasn't really developed. In particular, those who graduated from Communication Engineering major didn't really have many opportunities to get jobs except either in KBS, Korean Broadcasing System, or the telephone bureau run by the government. No wonder my father objected me majoring in Communication Engineering. Meanwhile, it was very dangerous for someone to have a radio communication equipment because it was the right after the Korean War. If somebody had a personal radio communication equipment, people might think that he or she was a communist spy. People like this could be arrested right away and spend their life behind bars. Therefore, people in Korea at that time had radio-phobia. (This kind of fear was from Japanese occupation of Korea and that became worse after the Korean War.)  

Since the technology of radio communication in Korea was far behind compared to other developed countries and there were not many books available relating to radio communication, all I could find in Korea at the time was the book called "Radio Science" written by Yo-Han Cho who was a high school student at the time when he wrote the book. Jangsadong Market selling U. S. military surplus radio equipments and components was the only place we could visit and enjoy at the time. Since we are living in such high technology today, it sounds like an old story but that was the reality of Korea only about 50 years ago.

One day at the market of Jangsadong, I bought a Japanese monthly magazine "Radio and Experiment" and found unfamiliar call signs, such as JA1AA, JA1BU, HL1TA etc..  As far as I knew, the call signs of a radio station consisted of only four English alphabet letters like HLKA for KBS Seoul and JOAK for NHK Tokyo. However, I found all call signs there had one number additionally in the middle of call signs. I hadn't heard of HL1TA radio station in Korea while HL indicates it is a radio station in Korea.  It didn't look like it was misprinted because there were HL1TA printed many times in one page.  

Fortunately, there was the name and address on the back of each call sign, though, it was unusual too to have a personal name with a broadcasting station. I became very curious about it. So, for the first time, I sent an international mail in my life to the address of radio station JA1BU located in Japan asking questions. "Why is there a number in your call sign, such as JA1BU? Isn't it a mistake?" and this was the start I could learn about the amateur radio.

I received no response for more than a month since I sent my letter to Japan and I almost gave up getting a reply.  One day, however, I got a letter from a Korean guy whom I didn't know. It said that he got a message concerning my letter about JA1BU and he wanted to meet me. I had no idea who he was but we decided to meet at a bakery in Donamdong close to my home. I wrote him that I would hold the magazine "Radio and Experiment" in my hand and explained about my dress I would wear, just like a meeting of communist spies at first contact. He was Hye-Sun Chung, much older than me and retired from the army as a first lieutenant communication officer. According to Chung, JA1BU of Japan and HL1TA of Seoul communicated through ham radio about my letter and HL1TA told Chung about me. That was how he could reach me with a letter.  

Even to me, who was crazy about radio, radio communication sounded really unfamiliar to me.  Furthermore, we couldn't even imagine that someone could run his own radio station at home and communicate with people living in other countries. It was something we had never dreamed of. That was how I got into Amateur Radio. After I met Chung, I spent a lot of time talking about Amateur Radio with Ki-Dong Kang who was my senior at SNU and operating amateur radio station HL1TA at his home. He told me in detail about how to communicate with hams in Japan and showed me actual ham radio communication at his home. From that time on, I couldn't get Amateur Radio out of my mind.

At that time, there were about 10 more fellow students who were interested in ham radio in Engineering College of SNU, who were mostly Kang's classmates at high school. I think these students and Hye-Sun Chung, whom I met, were only guys who knew about ham radio in Korea at the time. Of course, at that time, since people had a phobia about the radio communication, it was impossible for us to dream to get a permission for ham radio from the Korean government. Even the government officers of the radio communication section of the Ministry of Communications didn't know what the Amateur Radio means. Though it was an illegal radio station at home using call sign of HL1TA, Ki-Dong Kang could operate it just because his father was a high government officer of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

In early 1955, we decided to gather more people who could support us, opening the door wider to more ham radio friends, including Myoung-Sung Bae in College of Liberal Arts, SNU and many students of Dongkook Radio High School (the only specialized high school to train radio communication technicians and Kwangwoon Electronics High School now). On April 20th, 1955, KARL, The Korean Amateur Radio League, was founded at the auditorium of Dongkook Radio High School with about 50 members only and elected Mr. In-Kwan Lee, the chief engineer of KBS (Korean Broadcastings System) as the first president of KARL. Since Mr. In-Kwan Lee was very Old Man in telecommunication field at highest engineering position at KBS, we could take advantage of him to pressure officers of the Ministry of Communications to open the door to ham radio.  

Since we only had less than a hundred members of mostly college and high school students and due to the situations of the society in Korea at the time, we were not strong enough to let the Ministry of Communication accept our voice. Because there were only a few people who had ever heard about ham radio, our tasks were to publish a magazine called "KARL News" monthly to educate members and other people including officers of the Ministry of Communications. The founders of KARL including myself, Ki-Dong Kang, Hye-Sun Chung and Duk-Bin Lee, chief engineer of HLKY, The Christian Broadcasting Station, gathered once a month to talk about our counter plan and denounce the Ministry of Communications. The meeting was usually held at Zion Café located on the first floor of HLKY in Jongro 2nd. Street.  However, even though we did our best, our work didn't really progress much for the first two years.  

Students these days are much richer than students of my age in those days.  Today, everyone has their own cellular phones and don't need to worry about money for dates. Students at that time couldn't even afford to pay for their coffee at Zion Café. The only money we used to carry in wallets was no more than bus fees usually. Therefore Mr. Duk-Bin Lee paid for our coffee most of the time. We couldn't afford to print the monthly magazine, of course, and we used to print with ancient printing means called "Deungsapan" which was kind of a mimeograph. That was a really old-fashioned way to print. But this printing means have been used usually to print many copies at school and offices at that time.

We printed each page, bound them into a book, wrapped them, wrote an address on each book, all one by one by hands and took them to the post office to mail them.  Because only three or four guys helped to publish a book each time, it took quite a time to prepare it.  It was also physically challenging. We didn't have an office, so we used Mr. Hye-Sun Chung's small room as an office. Because of her good hand-writing, she wrote most of the books by hand. In that small room, we worked with enthusiasm and we even said "We do this because we want to do it. Otherwise, we wouldn't do it even we would be paid". We were able to do this hard work because there were less than 100 books to publish each month. We were very poor and sometimes some members had a hard time paying membership fee. Therefore, we had to ask seniors making money to help us financially.  Even with their donations, we didn't have enough money to publish every month and had to skip many months.

As one of the founders of KARL, I had many opportunities to work writing a manuscript, working with mimeograph and mailing books at post office.  However, I had to leave KARL for about half a year after I started to work for KARL, to join army for military duty. After I was discharged from the military service and returned to SNU, I went back to KARL and started to participate actively again.

Though we were not authorized to transmit radio wave, I really wanted to listen at least to foreign ham radio communications. However, I couldn't afford to buy a short wave radio communication receiver because it was hard to get any extra money other than tuitions from my parents. My elder sister, Dong-Sun, gave me some money from her paycheck to buy a suit one time. In those days, it was popular to college students who wear military working clothes dyed black.  It wasn't a fad but it was popular.  As I look back, I can see now that I wore them a lot in the pictures that I took back then.  I told my sister that I would buy a suit. However, I needed a communication receiver more than a suit. So, I went to Jangsadong market with the money for suit and bought a BC-342 receiver, which was a very popular short wave U. S. military surplus communication receiver available in the market.  Because of this, I never wore a suit throughout my college years and my family was left speechless.

Our work didn't seem to make any progress for the first two years, even though we did our best to educate people through "KARL News" and face to face too. Two years later, in the spring of 1957, most of the founding members of KARL graduated from the university and some of them like Ki-Dong Kang went to U. S. A. for further study abroad. Also, many of them got jobs in the Korean Electric Power Co. and moved to country side power stations. Mr. Hye-Sun Chung also got a job in rural area and left Seoul.  Therefore, I was the only one left in Seoul to be in charge of the KARL and I had to take full responsibility of the KARL operation, whether I liked it or not.  I was a junior at the college and I had to do school work and all the KARL works at the same time.

I had worked very hard to help KARL operation after I returned back to school as a sophomore in college, though it was more likely to assist Ki-Dong Kang and Hye-Sun Chung, as they were the major forces of KARL. However, after I was taken all over, I had to do everything for KARL operation alone from my junior year in 1957. I had to write most articles of  KARL News at rented house near Engineering College, SNU, far a way from Seoul, visit Mr. In-Kwan Lee, the president of KARL, at his office in Capital Building in down town to discuss KARL action plan often, visit Ministry of Communication to request licensing ham radio stations, etc. etc.. There were not many guys left to write articles of KARL News but myself. I had to write almost 100% of KARL News articles alone in some months, translating Japanese ham radio magazines, using all different false names.

Due to my heavy work load for KARL, I didn't have enough time to study and often skipped lectures. I even cheated some of the time when there were tests because I had already given up getting good grades. Still, I rarely got anything below a "C" and I think I was very smart guy probably. I was also busy as my dating with Jung-Hyuk Im was started at this time.

While I was so busy writing KARL News articles, the radio regulations of Korea were mere translation of old Japanese regulations, did not have even a word of "Amateur Radio" and officers of the radio administration in the  MOC (Ministry of Communications) didn't really have any knowledge about it, other than they have read  from "KARL News". Therefore, I had to write Korean Amateur Radio Law for Korean government officers, including Amateur Radio Call Sign System, which became the law of Korea later years, after collecting many Amaterur Radio Law books from U. S. A., Great Britain and Japan etc. and studying them, while I have never read any law book previously.  I think officers of the MOC made my work easier because they didn't know ham radio and accepted whatever regulations I prepared for them.

I also collected "Ham Radio Code" from other countries, such as United States , Japan, Britain etc. and created "Ham Radio Code" of Korea which had been printed on the first page of KARL News up to today. We also applied membership of IARU, International Amateur Radio Union, and KARL became a member of IARU. For your information, "Ham Radio Code" still printed today on the first page of KARL is as follows.

Amateur respects public interest of radio wave always.  
Amateur is friendly.
Amateur serves its country and society whenever possible.
Amateur always looks for new technology.
Amateur never forgets the danger of electricity.

At any rate, though there was not much progress for the first two years, since we have requested so much to license ham radio stations in Korea, the officers of the MOC had changed their minds very slowly and started to consider the licensing of ham radio stations finally. In early 1957, the MOC committed to license ham radio station to schools first, as they thought it was too early to license to individuals. And, finally, by the end of 1957, the first "Experimental Radio Station HL2AA" had been licensed to the Dept. of Physics, Seoul National University. It was licensed as an "Experimental Radio Station" rather than "Amateur Radio Station", because the law at that time did not have the terminology of "Amateur Radio" but "Experimental Radio Station" as Japanese defined in their law before the liberation of Korea.  

Although it was not a personal radio station nor named "Amateur Radio Station" and was limited to the amateur radio operator's license holders within the College of Liberal Arts , SNU, it didn't matter to us as far as we could transmit ham radio wave to the air legally. It was really an exciting moment for us who tried so hard for two long years, finally creating this success from ground zero. This was just the start of series of "Experiment Radio Station" licenses followed by Han-Yang Engineering College , E-Ri Technical High School , Dong-Kook Radio High School and Air Force Academy etc. etc..  And, that was the start of legal Amateur Radio operation in Korea.

My college age was so different from other usual students. My school study was the secondary work for me practically. Probably, I would not be able to graduate university, if it was an university in United States, which requires hard work. Fortunately, I could graduate SNU, because any student who was admitted to the university once and attended for 4 years would be graduated any way in Korea , as I could graduate from Seoul Nation University in September of 1958 this way somehow.

Meanwhile, when I became a senior at SNU and Miss Jung-Hyuk Im entered Ehwa Women's University, we started real dating as explained already. Whenever I met her, I couldn't help talking about ham radio and she surprised me by saying she also wanted to start ham radio one day. (I still don't know whether she was really interested in ham radio or if she was pretending for me.) After she showed me her interest, I taught her ham radio for six months, after which she and I both took the government examination of ham radio operator's licenses. Both of us passed it which made her very popular in Korea, as she became the first female radio operator in Korea, not only as ham radio operators but also including professional radio operators. At any rate, she appeared on TV and in the newspapers later on, including Korea Daily, Hyndai Economic Daily and Korea Herald, etc..  Suddenly, she became popular in Korea after all.

While I was working in Seoul for two years after I was graduated from SNU in Sept. 1960 until I moved to Pusan to work at Gold Star Co., I was moving around a few jobs including Weekly Telecommunications magazine as a reporter for a month, a radio technicians institution for about half year as an instructor and government officer of KBS where KARL president Mr. Lee was the top executive. During this time, I continued to handle all KARL operation.

At the end of 1958, we were all shocked at the news that ham radio stations with call signs of HL9KA – HL9KZ were licensed to the American military personals under the name of MARS (Military Auxiliary Radio Stations), as they can not live without ham radio regardless where they are stationed all around the world. Of course, we could understand Korean government could not resist their pressure as many American soldiers died for the freedom of South Korea in the battle field but it sounded like unfair for Koreans. Many young Koreans were so excited about the injustice saying "Is the Ministry of Communications for Koreans or Americans?" "Do we have to have American Citizenship to get ham license in Korea?" "Let's all of us transmit illegal ham radio wave and be arrested all together!!"

KARL immediately stood a protest against MOC and the Ministry finally realized that they had to consider licensing ham radio. A year later, in the Spring of 1959, MOC informed KARL that they will license club station first to KARL HQ, as the personal ham radio station licensing would be still too early (actually, because of opposition from National Security Authority). When we received this letter, our big problem was not only we were too poor to buy ham radio equipments but also didn't have even an office to install ham radio station. Therefore, we had to borough  transmitter and receiver from a member who had them for his future ham radio station and the mayor of Seoul, who was the father of one of KARL member, provided us a room to install the ham station in free of charge. Since there was no law about ham radio and no time to pass a new law, the Ministry made a temporary regulation based on the draft I gave them and licensed the first real "Amateur Radio Station HL9TA" to KARL as the first legal "Amateur Radio Station" in Korea. The HL9TA transmitted the first signal to the world on July 19, 1959 by the voice of Miss Jung-Hyuk Im, the first female radio operator in Korea, as all other hams have yielded the honor of the first microphone to her.


In June of 1960, one year after the HL9TA, MOC finally started to accept the application of personal ham radio station license. It had been a long and hard way of six years since KARL was founded with handful of poor college and high school students in the society all people were so afraid of radio communication. But it had finally paid off. The members of KARL grew to about 300 by that time. Seven guys submitted the first applications but, unfortunately, I couldn't be one of them because I could not afford to buy radio equipments. If I had applied at that time, I am sure HM1AA, the first call sign of Korean ham radio stations, would be mine as I myself have assigned the call signs practically (The Ministry assigned as I proposed.) but the honor was handed to someone else. I got 10th. call sign of HM1AJ several months later and Miss Jung-Hyuk Im HM1AM, the 13th. It is still my great regret that I have missed HM1AA call sign.

Anyway, It took six years to accomplish the goal of KARL, I had my own HM1AJ at my home in Miadong and I installed the ham radio station HM1AM for Miss Jung-Hyuk Im also at her home in Bookahyundong. We communicated through ham radio almost every night and sometimes made dating appointments through it, which had been heard by many fellow hams. Meanwhile, I had to temporarily discontinue working for KARL because I had to move to Pusan to work for Gold Star. About three years later, I came back to Seoul and resumed KARL work and continued for almost 10 years until Sept., 1973 when we moved to United States. In May of 1965, I received an "Letter of Appreciation" for the contribution to Amateur Radio in Korea from the Minister of Communications commemorating centennial anniversary of ITU (International Telecommunication Union, an UN organization). In 1965, I published the book "The Friendly Radio Wave, Ham Radio" which was the first published book about ham radio in Korea. I was also elected and served as the third President of KARL for 3 years until I moved to United States in 1973. Today, the number of ham radio stations has rapidly grown and there are about 25,000 ham radio stations now in Korea, ranking one of top ten countries in the world, which makes me to feel as I am in quite a different age.