The United States rolled out its Peace Corps Program in 1961, and its Volunteers first began arriving to the Republic of Korea and to “Cheju” (Jeju) Island in 1966. To Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Korea the Island will always be remembered as “Cheju.” That is because we all spelled it that way (in contrast to “Jeju”) during the years we served. Nineteen-eight-one was the year Peace Corps shut down shop in Korea and its final Volunteer officially deactivated.
There were all told 51 PCV groups trained to serve in Korea and they were numbered consecutively. For example, the K-1 Volunteer group arrived in Korea in 1966 and the K-51 group departed Korea in 1981. The approximately 2,000 Volunteers who actually served in Korea over the lifespan of the program trained primarily in English education and health specialties (for example, as TB and leprosy technicians). Many Volunteers liked Korea so much that they found work and stayed on in-country directly following after officially terminating their Peace Corps service. Several “went native” and a few went crazy. There are endless anecdotes.
Here’s one: A fairly new Volunteer who suddenly tired of Korea marched into headquarters in Seoul unexpectedly one day and demanded to be sent home immediately. Peace Corps honchos there recommended a week of counseling in hopes of salvaging the Volunteer for continued service. Adamant and unwilling to negotiate, the Volunteer walked outside of the headquarters building, which was located on a crowded street in central Seoul with heavy pedestrian traffic and many bus stops, in broad daylight, and took off all his clothes. Early the next day he was on a one-way flight to Los Angeles. Such things happened.
Some Volunteers extended their Peace Corps service either in Korea or elsewhere (with Samoa and Tonga as favorite destinations). Not a few Volunteers who headed home after Peace Corps suffered serious bouts of nostalgia and had readjustment issues in the States. Some of these returned to Korea immediately; some later. A few Volunteers are now Korean citizens.
I was a K-25 and my Volunteer group officially arrived to Korea in November of 1972 and officially departed for home 27 months later, in March of 1975. Two Volunteers from our group were sent down to Cheju Island in February 1973 to serve. I was one of them and Steve Beatty was the other:
Enough background for the time being: It’s time to present the tentative results of the initial Cheju Island Peace Corps Volunteer roll call. You would think that such a name list and inventory is already compiled and on file somewhere in hard-copy versions or in digital files. The Peace Corps Office surely must have kept track of all their Volunteers around the world and the times and places they served. Likewise, Korean government agencies including the nosey KCIA must have compiled its own thorough investigations of PCK Volunteers, highlighting who was good and who was bad, and so on. Certainly someone, somewhere, in some official government capacity has only to walk into a room and pull open a file drawer to — “Voila!” — discover then thumb through a tidy row of folders to access the “PC Volunteer Service Folder for Cheju Island, ROK” file. But no: that folder and its contents do not seem to exist anywhere on Planet Earth any more — if it ever did.
So, I have casually endeavored over the past few years to contact past KPCVs and especially those who served on Cheju Island in an attempt to compile a complete-as-possible Volunteer name list in chronological order. Jim Shon (K-12) and his personal contacts among Cheju ex-PCVs have been particularly helpful. Here is the list as it stands today, still tentative and perhaps, say, 70 percent complete. I invite readers of JWW from around the world to help us fill in the gaps and correct any errors. Just email me with your input at [email protected].
Updated RPCV Jeju Island Volunteer List revised 6-8-15
Craig Cooley, Sherrie Moore, Edward Klein, Edward Shultz, Jackie Tanny, Lynn Meissen, John Bowler, Raymond Boyko, Keith Kager, Joel Koemptgen, Jim Chamie, Charles Perkins, Don Singman, Mike Sullivan, Frank Wilson, Kenneth Fuchs, Peter Adams, Fred Evens, Lou Spaventa, John Csenger, Sue Ann Allen, Larry Morgan, Linda Pope, Joe Reilly, Jim Shon, Bob Swartout, George Biolsi, Barbara Siegel, Kathy Heitman, Linda Therrio, Mark Tierney, Courtney Callahan, James P. Callahan, Jack Maisano, Vicki Metcalf, Gary Ashkenazy, Tom Runyun, Steve Beatty, David “Jim” Nemeth, James Lampru, Lucinda McMillen, Cleon McDonald, Dick Shafer, John McLean, Edith Jensen Westerod, Martha Gustafson, Dave Milligan, Karen Hymbaugh, Bob Claire, Kathy Clement, Michael Clement, Charlie Kelley, Darrel Hess, and Brenda Carey.
[Previous list below:]
Jackie Tanny (K-1)
Sherrie Moore (K-1)
Craig Cooley (K-1?) Soguip’o Town
Jim Chamie (K-4?)
Lou Spaventa (K-7) Cheju City
Peter Adams (K-7) Hallim Town
Bob Sirko (K-9?) Cheju City
“some tall guy” (K-?) Soguip’o Town
John Csenger (K-11 or K-13) Soguip’o Town
Linda Pope (K-12)
Jim Shon (K-12) Cheju City
Joe Reilly (K-12) Cheju City and Pyosun Village
Bob Swartout (K-12) Cheju City
Sue Ann Allen (K12) Cheju City
Larry Morgan (K-12) Soguip’o Town
George Biolsi (K-13) Cheju City.
Linda Terrio (K-17?) I think was in Songsanp’o
Kathy Heitman, a.k.a. “Maggie”? (K-17)
Ed Evans (K-?) Cheju City
Barbara Siegel (K-?) Cheju University
Jack Maisano (K-?) Soguip’o Town
Mark Tierney (K-18)
James P. Callahan (K-19) Soguip’o Town.
Courtney Callahan (K-19) Soguip’o Town
Vicki Metcalf (K-21?) Cheju City
Gary Ashkenazy (K-24) Soguipo Town?
Tom Runyan (K-24) Cheju City
Steve Beatty (K-25) Cheju City
David (“Jim”) Nemeth (K-25) Cheju City
James Lampru (K-27) Soguip’o Town
Cindy McMillen (K-27)
Darrel Hess (K-?)
Jon McLean (K-30) Cheju National University
Edith Jensen Westerod (K-30) Cheju National University
Martha Gustafson (K-32) Cheju National University
Michael Clement (1976-1978) Kimnyung and Cheju City
Kathy Clement (1976-1978) Cheju City
Karen Hymbaugh (K-36) Soguip’o Town.
Douglas Hansen ?
Charlie Kelly (K-41) ?
Brenda Carey (K-49) Cheju City?
Next week: The Jacket