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BE Kiyun(BE Kiyun) 
Gender Male  Age at time of bombing 13 
Recorded on 2012.7.1  Age at time of recording 80 
Location at time of bombing Hiroshima(Direct exposure Distance from the bombing hypocenter:2.0km) 
Location when exposed to the bombing Minami-machi, Hiroshima City [Current Minami-ku, Hiroshima City] 
Status at time of bombing High school or university student 
Occupational status at time of bombing Hiroshima Prefectural Hiroshima Commercial School 
Hall site Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims 
Dubbed in English/
With English subtitles
With English subtitles 

BE Kiyun was 13 at the time of the bombing. BE Kiyun was exposed to the bomb at Minami-machi, about 2 km. from the hypocenter. His face was so swollen from burns that he could not open his eyes or mouth, or drink water. BE Kiyun was on the verge of death when his father and brother came to take him from the aid station on Ninoshima Island. He wears long sleeves to cover his scars, even in summer, and has never told anyone that he is an atomic bomb survivor. So many people have suffered from the atomic bombs. He urges that nuclear weapons should never be used.

【Life before the atomic bomb】
I graduated from Kan-on Elementary School in Higashi-kan-on machi. Then I took the examination for Hiroshima Prefectural Hiroshima Commercial School. The acceptance rate was less than 6%, but I got in. At that time, we lived in Nishi-kan-on-machi. My large family had eight people - father, mother, elder sister, elder and younger brothers, and me. I remember that my father was employed. My mother took on work at home, sewing goods used in the martial art, kendo. My elder sister worked at a big cannery on the corner of the Kan-on-honmachi main street. My elder brother worked at a place that printed tickets for Hiroshima Station. As I remember, he went to night school after work. We never ate enough to feel full. But I think that was true for everyone at that time because of the war. Sometimes I went to the army arsenals to help clean the weapons. Mainly I worked offloading bags of sugar or other things from ships at Ujina Port. At that time, I don't think many students were able to study very much.

【August 6th】
As usual, I went to school, crossing the Kan-on Bridge. When the air raid warning was lifted, students gathered on the athletic field. Then, suddenly, a B29 appeared. As the plane came with its white contrail, we all looked up exclaiming, "That's a B29!" A bright red ball about this size fell from the plane. It was completely red, not fiery but a solid red ball. As we watched it grew bigger and bigger, and then exploded with a flash. That is all I saw. When I regained consciousness, the world had turned completely dark, with ash and dust floating in the air. The ash settled and gradually it grew light. I found myself sitting in the middle of the morning assembly platform. I don't know whether I fled there by myself or was blown by the blast. The back of my head hurt and when I touched it, it felt soft like bean curd. I tried touching my face, and found that it was swollen. My eyelids were not yet very swollen, so I could see. I looked at the athletic field, but didn't see my friends. Thinking back now, I think they must have been scattered by the force of the explosion. I don't remember much about what happened.

I think I must have been so desperate to survive that I ran to the main street. I have a memory of holding hands with a stranger. I don't know if the person was a student, or even if s/he was male or female. Probably, that person took me to Ujina. As I walked, my face began to swell so much that I couldn't open my eyes, so I didn't see what it was like at Ujina. I'm told that a lot of people came to Ujina. There were lots of people who, like me, had been exposed to the blast and whose skin was hanging down. Members of the Women's Association were handing out rice balls. But my face and mouth were too swollen to be able to eat them. I have no memory of how I got from Ujina to Ninoshima Island, whether it was by ship or another way.

【On Ninoshima Island】
On Ninoshima Island, I was put in what seemed like a big warehouse and laid on a board or mushiro (coarse straw mat). I stayed there until my father and brother found me. I was unable to move. The smell was horrible. I could hear loud screams and groans, and people calling for help. There are no words to describe how horrible it was. My face and mouth were so swollen I couldn't eat or drink anything. Even when someone gave me water, I couldn't drink it. When my father found me, I had lost my sense of smell and felt no pain. I think I was close to death. My name in Japanese is HOSHIYAMA Motoji. I didn't think that my father and brother would come for me. But I heard faint, far away voices calling, "Motoji." I don't remember whether I waved my hand or I called to them, but I was saved. We headed back in a small boat. I remember seeing a Grumman fighter plane fly over us. The plane dropped something, and it made our boat rock. After we docked, I remember being taken to Ushita on a cart. In those days we used two-wheeled hand carts called daihachiguruma, and I think that is what they used. After that, I lost consciousness. I think it was 2 or 3 days before I awoke.

【Being cared for by my family】
I vaguely remember hearing the Emperor announce the end of the war on the radio on August 15th. All I did was sleep, so I don't know what was happening around me at that time. Of course it must have been very hard, and my situation made it worse for my siblings. There was no medicine available, so they found herbs. They squeezed the leaves and pounded them with a stone, using the juice to make plasters for my wounds. That was all we had for medicine. The herbs began to run out, so my siblings had to go further away to get them. I remember that it was hard on them. There were no hospitals. All of the hospitals in the city had been destroyed. But even if there had been hospitals, we wouldn't have had the energy to go to them.

【Repatriation to South Korea】
We returned to South Korea in December. We took a small fishing boat, going first to Shimonoseki. I think the trip took about 24 hours. Many people gathered in Shimonoseki to take the repatriation ships. We had to wait for our turn. I think we must have waited at Senzaki, a nearby port, for 2 or 3 weeks. The port at Senzaki was so small that the American hospital ship couldn't enter it. It anchored offshore and to board it, we had to take a small boat. The hospital ship took us to Pusan.

【Life in South Korea】
Even after returning to South Korea, I struggled to heal my burns. My siblings and I had never spoken anything except Japanese. We couldn't speak a word of Korean. Although we were Korean, it was very difficult to learn the language. We didn't go to school. I think one of the reasons we didn't go to school was that we couldn't afford it. For food, since we were a large family, we boiled corn and ate everything, even the husks. It took 4 or 5 years for my burns to completely heal. I didn't see a doctor, and all I could do was to apply mercurochrome. If I was lazy with using the mercurochrome, my burns would soon become infested with maggots. I had no other medicine. In those days, undershirts with high necklines and long sleeves were popular in South Korea. Fortunately I could wear those undershirts to work, even in summer. As for bathing, I went to the public baths but instead of using the communal bath I used the private ones. The private ones were bit more expensive, but I always used them. I was under a lot of stress.

If I overdid it, the stink of Ninoshima would come back and fill my nose. It doesn't happen anymore, but at that time, whenever I got tired or caught a cold, that horrible smell would come back to me. It continued for some decades. I hate the summer because people wear less clothing. I feel a lot of stress in summer. Soon after the Korean War, I got married. I confessed to her that I was an atomic bomb survivor before we married. We have three children, two sons and a daughter. Fortunately they have not been affected by the atomic bomb. We have been lucky.

【Effects of exposure to the atomic bomb】
Even now I suffer from various illnesses. I have hypertension, diabetes, circulatory disorders, neuropathic pain and mild infarction. I take so many kinds of medicine. When I was young, I worked really hard to make a living. But now I'm old and since my 70's, I've had to rely on Japan. This is my third time to come to a hospital in Hiroshima, and I've also gone to hospitals in Osaka and Nagasaki. At my age, I don't have any choice except to rely on Japan. It is the same for other Korean atomic bomb survivors. I am afraid that my history as an atomic bomb survivor may affect my children's chances of marriage. Even in Korea, although it has gotten better, I still do not tell anyone that I am an A-bomb survivor. After some decades, my scars have faded, but at first they were very black. The color is lighter now, but when I was young, they were so ugly. I came into my own working at a tire factory, and did many other kinds of jobs, too. At one time I worked as a shipwright, and got good at it. At other times I worked as a rock drill technician in a mine. I made money doing many kinds of work. I bought a plot of land in Keisen, North Chungcheong Province, and started farming there.

Owing to the atomic bomb, I have suffered for my whole life, but I am not the only one. I think that everyone who experienced the atomic bombs, regardless of whether they are in Japan or abroad, have suffered ever since, just like I have. Nuclear war must never happen anywhere in the world. I don't think that people suffer from conventional wars in the same way they do from nuclear war. We should all work together to prevent nuclear war.

Translation: Chinobu Masukawa
Translation supervision: Ronni Alexander
Translation coordination :NET-GTAS (Network of Translators for the Globalization of the Testimonies of Atomic Bomb Survivors)

*Many more memoirs can be viewed at both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Peace Memorial Halls.
*These contents are updated periodically.
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