masterly master lee

a home for forgotten and famous korean pulp, its heroes, its heroines, and its pulpeteers

USO Shows in Korea 한국의 미8군쇼

Since the 1940s the USO has organised all kinds of shows for its servicemen. In the 1940s and late 1950s, the men serving in Korea were on average very young. Whereas the stationing of troops in Japan had been much better planned and prepared (a number of American servicemen sent out spoke Japanese), the occupation of Korea’s southern half was much less so.This may explain also the average age of the American servicemen there. Sixty percent of the American troops serving in Korea in the 1950s were under the age of 21, and 80 per cent under 25. For their entertainment during the Korean War there were 126 entertainment units who produced some 5,400 shows, and by the end of the 1950s, the heyday of the shows’ popularity, there are said to have been as many as 264 stages.

Donald Gaydos, who was stationed near the village of Sŏnghwanni, in between Osan and Taejŏn, from 1954 to 1955, told Master Lee on 20 November 2003:

“The outpost where I was stationed wasn’t near any large cities and consequently didn’t get many USO entertainers. In fact, I can only remember three or four shows during the entire time I was in Korea. These were not the usual big name stars that entertained at larger U.S. Armed Forces Bases, but unknown comedians, singers, dancers and bands who kindly and graciously volunteered their time to entertain troops in outlying areas.”

The pictures below are not from a proper USO show, but from one of the very small more privately run ones , in this particular case organised by Tony Starr (also pictured) around the late 1940s. From the copious amount of cross-dressing one can conjecture that women were very much “missed”. Recently some one told Master Lee that there used to be a nice guy by the same name hanging around Berkeley Uni, sometimes performing music outside. Would this be the same Tony Starr? Master Lee would love to know; Mr Starr was a true champion of pulp in Korea. For more on his cross-dressing days, click here

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