Kim Soo-Im

Posted: August 20, 2008 in Army, Blame a Dame, CIA, Cold War Bunny, Espionage, Korea, Korean War
Tags: ,

You say “potato”, I say “po-tah-toe”, you say “Mata Hari”, I say “get your facts straight”…damn this is getting tiresome…

So history is playing yet another round of “Blame Dame” with the acts of a cowardly US Colonel towards a dame being mislabeled as “Sexpionage”. Sigh.

Here we go: Kim Soo-Im (1911-1950) was a highly educated Korean Socialite. During the post WWII years, when Korea was trying to shrug off it’s Japanese controlled, colonial, feudal shroud, the young and educated were leaning left-towards communism-as a way to modernize their society.

Kim was an orphan who was raised by missionaries and was educated at a prestigious women’s college. She supported herself by working as an office administrator and ran in a highly fashionable circle of Korean intellectuals. In 1941, Kim met Lee Gang-Kook, an older married man who was also the head of Seoul’s leftist movement. They became involved and remained so until the Korea’s crackdown on communists in 1945 forced Lee to flee to Northern Korea.

Kim was left behind and due to her fluency in English, she became a translator for American forces stationed in Korea. Enter Col. John E. Baird. His role in Korea was to monitor the black market, Korean informants, and theft of US Army property. Kim became his assistant, and more, and Baird set Kim up with housing and eventually fathered her child, a son, Wonil Kim.

This went on until m1949, when the US Army began withdrawals, Baird’s American wife came to town for a visit, and Kim’s ex-lover Lee, had risen to political heights in the North and began to pubicly trash talk the Southern Regime.

In 1950, Kim was no longer employed by the US Army and Baird was skipping town back to his family across the pond. This left Kim vulnerable and she was rounded up in a leftist witch-hunt where the South Korean government charged her with a dirty laundry list of crimes, the most serious of which claimed that Kim relayed top-secret US withdrawal plans to her ex-lover Lee in the North.

No evidence was presented. No witnesses were brought forth to corroborate the charges. But on the third day of trial, Kim broke down and confessed. I’m willing to put money that the amount of torture she suffered during her imprisonment, in the form of water boarding, electric shock, and the terrifying use of pliers, played no small part in the matter.

Col. Baird, well aware of Kim’s dire circumstances, and who could have manned-up, stepped forward, and refute the charges, did nothing for her.

Kim was sentenced to death and was swiftly executed.

The US Army, well aware of the situation, did its own follow up investigation and recently declassified reports show that the charges against Kim were a set-up. Not only that, Col. Baird was not privy to any such sensitive information, hence, Kim could have not passed it along to Lee Gang-Kook.

Kim’s son, Wonil, was adopted by a missionary family who eventually headed back to the US. Well aware of his mother’s story since there was a few TV movies aired that trumped her up as an “Asian Mata Hari” (one narrated by an actor by the name of Ronald Reagan), Wonil began a life’s quest in clearing his mother’s name.

Wonil tracked his father shortly before he died in 1980, and despite the undisputable fact that he looks exactly like dear old dad, Col. Baird rejected him outright claiming a “Mr. Smith” as Wonil’s real father. Despite this, Wonil developed a close relationship with his father’s family after his death. Wonil is now collaborating with a Korean filmmaker on his mother’s life story in efforts to dispell the myths that have surrounded her so long.

And the kicker of it all: according the Army intelligence reports, Lee Gong-Kook was employed by the CIA’s Joint Activities Commission in Korea as a secret agent. He was executed in 1953 after the Korean War ended for being an American spy.

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