Pat Martin

My only resource is a typewriter and a camera. How can I capture such misery in a single phrase that the world will understand? I don’t even understand it myself.


“I came to the Far East to be near my fiancé. Then I got too involved to leave.” The conflict forever changed Martin. The war correspondent boarded an old freighter for Korea in the spring of 1952. Martin collection

Top: Sponsored by The Nippon Times in Japan, Martin was one of few female war correspondents who reported from the front lines. “I don’t write about battles,” Martin once said. “I write about people.” Martin collection

Middle: Syngman Rhee, the first president of the Republic of Korea, invites journalists to tea at the Presidential Palace. When Rhee learns that Martin, at his left, writes for The Nippon Times “the president’s face contorts and he drops my hand so suddenly, I wonder if he is having a seizure.” During the Japanese occupation of Korea, Rhee was imprisoned and tortured.” Martin collection

Bottom: Martin with Gen. James Van Fleet, Commander, U.S. Eighth Army and a onetime classmate of General Dwight D. Eisenhower. “From this man I would learn a whole new definition of leadership and true heroism that was based on results, not charisma.” Martin collection

“I had cut my baby teeth on the front-line dispatches of Ernie Pyle and the up-front photography of Margaret Bourke-White. You don’t get those close-ups sitting in a press billets, nor did I intend to. I listened to the individuals tossed into this bedlam and tried to tell their stories.

“Imagine your present world suddenly drained of all color. Only black, white and brown remain. Take away laughter, music, casual conversations and all the comforting, soft, familiar sounds of your present world. Now set all that remains into motion until familiar objects disintegrate. Take away the sweet perfume of flowers and replace it with the stench of broken infrastructure, open sewers and decay. Overwhelm this scene with military troops and traffic indifferent to anything but their own frantic missions, while thousands of refugee people dart between this traffic in desperate flight, or plod step by step toward hopeful refuge, or simply fall in exhaustion and die.

“This was the tribal song Korea sang to me on that first day! It is part of the tribal song each of us must sing to our children.”