"I'm somewhat humble because I did a couple of things, but many Korean brothers and sisters suffered and did a lot more for human rights than me," said Ogle
, 73, who lives in Atlanta.
...Following his return to Korea in 1973 to teach at Seoul National University, Ogle continued his association and support of workers and became an advocate for eight men sentenced to death because they had been accused of being communists and attempting to overthrow the government.
The "crime" Ogle committed that resulted in deportation was praying for the men and calling for a public trial, rather than secret military trials.He
remembers leaving South Korea in tears, sitting next to a Catholic priest on the flight out."He
sort of held my hand while I cried my whole way to Japan," Ogle said.The eight men were executed in April 1975 without the opportunity for an appeal called for by Korean law.The fact he
received an award for his
human rights work 28 years after being deported is an indication of how much has changed in South Korea, Ogle
said.What's more, a Korean Truth Commission
has acknowledged that the case against the eight men had been fabricated by the military dictatorship to promote anti-communist sentiment and that the Korean CIA and prison officials had admitted to torturing the men to obtain false confessions.
After receiving the human rights award Sept. 30, the George and Dorothy Ogle
stayed in the country to attend Oct. 16-21 the "Gathering of the Overseas Supporters of the Korean Democratic Movement."
...Back in the U.S. after his deportation, Ogle taught at Emory University's Candler School of Theology from 1975-1881, joined the staff of the General Board of Church and Society for five years, and worked five years in Illinois with a legislative lobbying group called Impact.
A daughter and two grandchildren brought the Ogles back to the Atlanta area.
Looking at the Korean peninsula today, he
feels "good that South Korea has moved from one of the poorest countries to one of the richest in a matter of two or three decades.There are still problems, but workers are allowed to have collective bargaining, and people are well-fed.There is hardly any poverty in the country at all, and the young people must be among the most-educated, best-informed people in the world."The looming problem is North Korea, and while people in both countries yearn for peaceful coexistence, if not unification, the North Korean leadership obviously presents a stumbling block while some South Koreans are reticent as well.North Korea is so poor, Ogle
noted, "it would put a great burden in the South to help feed and clothe North Koreans and keep their economy going."Ogle
has made several trips back to South Korea since his
deportation, the first being in 1984 when he
was permitted to return for the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Methodist church.In 1989 he
stayed several months to do some research and study that resulted in the book about the history of the Korean labor movement.
In addition to being active in the North Georgia chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action
has written a new book, called Stories of Twentieth Century Korea.It is a collection of historical fiction short stories which tell the stories of peasants and industrial workers as they endured decades of oppression-Japanese occupation, division into North and South Korea, war and military dictatorship.Ogle
is currently working on two new volumes, one a collection of poetry and another of short stories.