Private Andrews trudged through the stone cobbled streets of Pyongyang, his battered rifle slung despondently around his shoulder. His army fatigues were drenched in a mixture of perspiration and tears, and specks of blood and mud dotted the previously – crisp uniform. His company marched in unison towards City Hall, their leather boots making dull thud – thud sounds on the ground, while the expressionless Koreans looked on from the sidewalks, their faces bereft of any emotion.
Andrews looked around at his surroundings. What were previously big, commanding buildings were reduced to a pile of debris and wood. Flames engulfed the remains of these structures and the sky was ablaze in brilliant hues of orange and vermillon. Homes that were once sources of shelter and comfort were now a burning inferno, places that brought misery and torture to those who still resided in them. Apart from the faint crackling of flames and the sounds of boots marching, an eerie silence enveloped the area. Andrews felt uneasy. This was not how it was supposed to be. This was just not right.
Where was the fanfare? Where were the happy faces? Just a day before, American bombers shelled Pyongyang, followed by multiple squadrons storming it to defeat the Korean People’s Army, bringing to an end months of endless fighting. North Korea was liberated. Koreans never again had to live under the tyranny of a sinister regime. However, instead of being greeted with cheering and triumphant smiles, all the Americans received were cold stares that did not radiate friendliness and warmth.
As Andrews walked on, he noticed all the dead bodies. They were a mix of soldiers and civilians. A faint sobbing sound attracted his attention to a bullet – ridden body. It was dressed in a shabby shirt with torn trousers, without a coat to protect it from the harsh cold. A small boy, with a mop of matted, black hair on his forehead, was crouching over the body, hands clutched around its neck and wailing in anguish. Andrews’ heart broke at the sight of such a pitiful scene. The child turned its head to look at him.
His jet – black eyes bore deep into Andrews’, carrying with it an intense feeling of resentment and hate. Andrews was confronted with the reality and horror of the entire situation. The events that had happened a few days ago resurfaced in his mind again. For the first time in his life, he had shot and killed a man. A living, breathing being with a hope and a future, was destroyed just at the pull of a trigger. How could he bring himself to commit one of society’s most heinous acts? Now the past was back to haunt him. He suddenly felt very filthy and disgusting. Nothing could wash away the guilt he felt inside.
So this was how victory felt like. It was very sweet indeed.