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About The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current | View Entire Issue (Sept. 7, 2015)
September 7, 2015
ASIA / PACIFIC
THE ASIAN REPORTER n Page 5
Ethnic Karen minority remember World War II hero
GRANDFATHER LONGLEGS REMEM-
BERED. World War II veteran Saw Berny, who is
ethnic Karen, looks at a gravestone while attending a
ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the end
of World War II at Hanthawaddy War Cemetery in
Yangon, Myanmar. Karen fought courageously behind
Japanese lines with Maj. Hugh Paul Seagrim, an ex-
ceptional guerrilla leader. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
By Denis D. Gray
The Associated Press
ANGON, Myanmar — A group of
World War II veterans from
Myanmar’s ethnic Karen minority,
most in their 90s, prayed and sang a
poignant hymn at the graveside of a
legendary British officer who sacrificed his
life for an ethnic group for whom the war’s
end 70 years ago led to the world’s
The gathering of the old warriors at the
grave of Maj. Hugh Paul Seagrim — who
the Karen call “Grandfather Longlegs” —
was part of a ceremony to mark Victory
over Japan Day, which ended the global
conflict and savage combat that
devastated Burma, as the country was
“He loved the Karen people. He gave his
life (for us),” 92-year-old Saw Berny said of
Seagrim, who led a highly effective Karen
guerrilla force deep behind Japanese lines.
When Japan began to torture and kill
Karen civilians and threatened more
retribution if Seagrim did not surrender,
he gave himself up to be executed with
seven of his Karen comrades.
While fighting with the Karen, many of
them Christians, the towering British
officer — regarded as a maverick but
outstanding guerrilla chief — wore their
native dress, shared their food, and helped
till their fields.
Meeting at Yangon’s Commonwealth
War Cemetery were also Chin, Kachin,
and members of other ethnic minorities
who fought bravely alongside Allied forces
against the Japanese. After Burma’s
independence from Britain in 1948, hoping
for greater autonomy from the central
government, a welter of ethnic insurgent
groups rose up in rebellion.
Sporadic fighting continues in some
parts of the country, but Myanmar’s
military-backed government is attempting
to forge a comprehensive peace agreement
with the Kachin, Karen, and others before
general elections later this year.
The Karen insurgency has seen killings,
torture, and rape of civilians by Myan-
mar’s military. Aid agencies say some
400,000 Karen have been driven from their
homes while more than 120,000 refugees,
most of them Karen, are sheltered in
camps along the Thai-Myanmar border.
About 60,000 now live in the United
Some believe that if Seagrim, who vowed
to return to Myanmar after the war, had
survived, he would have helped the cause
of the Karen, who the British government
A meal and webcam form unlikely
recipe for South Korean fame
Continued from page 2
they can interact with broadcasters,” said
Ahn, the company executive. He believes
television in the long run will be
completely replaced by such apps.
Cho Young-min, a 12-year-old who has
watched an online game show on Afreeca
TV since he was a third-grader, aspires to
have his own show on Afreeca TV, not on
the television in the living room.
Ahn Won-jun, a 17-year-old high school
student, said he prefers to eat dinner in his
room to watch Kim’s Meok Bang, rather
than dining with his parents.
Kim isn’t a particularly polite virtual
dinner guest. He burps loudly before his
audiences and sometimes walks off
specificity that he needs to use the
bathroom. He usually leaves his fans with
a mission during his absence, promising a
prize to the person who last clicks the
“like” button when he is back.
Hardcore Afreeca TV viewers are drawn
to hosts like Kim because they can interact
with them, unlike more distant TV stars.
Fans say they feel their blood rush and
heart flutter when a host reacts to their
comments, singling them out in the stream
of hundreds of live chat messages.
“I was so moved,” said Lee Yeon-joo, a
15-year-old recalling the moment when a
26-year-old man read her message in the
middle of his live show. “You cannot really
Afreeca TV users can get broadcasters’
attention by giving them “star balloons,”
which cost them about 10 cents apiece. The
show hosts keep part of that money,
though Afreeca TV takes a cut of up to 40
Most broadcasters, including Kim, are
reluctant to reveal how much money they
make. Afreeca TV said out of some 300,000
broadcasters who air their show at least
once a month, the top 500 make more than
what one would normally make by
working full time, but the company
declined to be more specific. In 2013, a
South Korea television network, TV
Chosun, cited a lawmaker’s office that the
top Afreeca TV host earned 298 million
won ($250,000) a year.
Live-streaming videos are going
mainstream, both in South Korea and
In Asia, services such as YYTV in China
have been in use by tens of millions of
users for years, and also have developed
ways for broadcasters to generate income.
Meerkat and Periscope from Twitter,
two livestreaming apps in the U.S., were
launched in March. Facebook is launching
its own livestreaming service called Live,
although it will be only available for
South Korean search giant Naver
rushed to launch a real-time video service
where K-pop stars can livestream their
behind-the-scenes lives. One of the most
talked-about TV shows on a South Korean
TV network this year was “My Little
Television,” which adopted similar
features to Afreeca TV, such as the format
of one person broadcasting a show live
while responding to comments from
Afreeca TV’s model may not translate
across borders, however. The company’s
efforts to make inroads in Japan, Taiwan,
and the U.S. have met with little response.
had promised to support after the war but
then abandoned after independence was
“He would have been a great force for
good, politically and otherwise,” Sally
McLean, a British humanitarian aid
worker, said at Seagrim’s grave.
McLean founded Help 4 Forgotten
Allies, which provides 120 British pounds
($187) each year to more than 250 Karen
veterans or their widows. The Karen
soldiers were not recognized as being
officially part of the British army and
therefore never received pensions or other
benefits despite what historians say was
their great contribution to the victory.
“He was clearly an inspiration to the
Karen. Seagrim’s influence runs on till the
present day,” said Duncan Gilmour, whose
grandfather, Lt. Col. Edgar Peacock,
played a key role in the guerrilla campaign
after Seagrim’s death when the Karen
were unleashed against the retreating
Japanese, killing thousands.
The Burma campaign, waged away from
the world’s spotlight by what have been
called “forgotten armies,” was one of the
most brutal of the war for both the Allies
and the Japanese, who invaded the
country in 1942. Thousands succumbed in
jungles and mountains not only to
sometimes hand-to-hand combat, but also
to cholera, dysentery, scrub typhus, and
other rampant tropical diseases.
British diplomats, military attachès of
former Allied powers, senior Burmese
officers, and others also attended the cere-
mony, held near a simple white cross
rising above the gravestones of some 1,300
The Karen fulfilled Seagrim’s last
request before his execution: that his
Karen comrades sing the hymn “Oh Christ
the Solid Rock I Stand” for him.
The elderly war veterans and others
rendered it effortlessly in part-harmony
and their own language.
Saw Berny sat in a wheelchair near the
simple gravestones of Seagrim and his exe-
cuted companions, explaining that what
he had on — black pants, white shirt, red
Karen blouse, and a shoulder bag with a
bible inside — was the same that “Grand-
father Longlegs” wore when he surren-
dered to the Japanese seven decades ago.
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Saturday, September 12
11 a.m.–6 p.m. FREE!
It’s time to celebrate the opening
of the new MAX Orange Line—
connecting PSU with Southeast
Portland, Milwaukie and Oak Grove
in North Clackamas County!
Join us for a day of adventure
and fun, with activities and
entertainment at many of the newly
opened Orange Line stations. Plus,
free rides all day on TriMet, Portland
Streetcar and the Aerial Tram!