Just days before Christmas, 1950, Seoul was in chaos. China had intervened in the Korean War and the UN forces were being forced back – Seoul was in the process of being evacuated. Many Koreans had already fled from the city while others sought the assistance of the American forces. Sometimes their enemies were from within:
On the night of Dec. 22-23, 1950, Seoul was preparing for the arrival of the North Korean forces. Many of the residents of Seoul had already fled but others, like Lee Hak-chun, his wife, Kim Chung-hee, and their three children, sought the assistance of the United States Army to transport them to safety in the southern part of the country.
Lee and his family, along with several other Koreans, were in the basement of the 8th Army Officers’ Billets awaiting transportation to Daegu. It was just about midnight when Pvt. John E. Day Jr., a 21-year-old American soldier from Washington, D.C., entered the room. He had been drinking all day and was very belligerent. Spying Lee’s wife, he sat down next to her and began to try and seduce her — when his attempts were refused he grabbed her by the neck and began to choke her. Another Korean managed to pry the woman away from Day but this further angered the drunken soldier.
Day then left the room but came back shortly afterwards armed with a carbine and dressed only in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Through an interpreter, Day demanded that Lee “concede” his wife to him immediately and if he refused, Day would kill them all. He then had all of the Koreans line up against the wall and ordered Lee to step back a couple of feet at which time he shot him twice in the chest.
Day then grabbed the woman (who was still clutching her baby) by the neck and forced her to go outside where he raped her. He struck her several times with the butt of his weapon and then took her baby and threw it in the front seat of a truck. A couple of hours later, Lee’s corpse was discovered.