Life at Seoul
and Ham Radio
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
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.
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
Engineering College and got the admission. I practiced German conversation
in FLI (Foreign Language Institute) of
for three months to be able to command some basic conversations with a
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
the first half of training ended in October, I was hospitalized in
, pretending as if I am sick, transferred to the Yoosung
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
at the time. If they hadn't been sure of an early discharge, they would not
more episode is that when I was in the army hospital, I took my days off and
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.
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
and return to
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
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.
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
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.
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.
I took the entrance exam for the
in Yongdoodong, I attended school in Shingongduckdong near Taenung where
there is a
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.
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.
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.
already talked about the time when I was in
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.
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
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
at that time. On that day, four
of us had a great time in Jakyakdo and, maybe, I could say it was our first
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
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
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.
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.)
first time I made a radio was when I was in the seventh grade. We moved to
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.
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
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
at that time had radio-phobia. (This kind of fear was from Japanese
and that became worse after the Korean War.)
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
also collected "Ham Radio Code" from other countries, such as
, 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.
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.
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.
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
, 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
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
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
, as I could graduate from
in September of 1958 this way somehow.
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
Daily, Hyndai Economic Daily and
Herald, etc.. Suddenly, she
became popular in Korea after all.
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.
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
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
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!!"
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.
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.
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
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
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.