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Hiroshima’s forgotten victims

HIROSHIMA, Japan — Sixty-eight years ago today, the radioactive heat of the world’s first atomic bomb attack seared Jongkeun Lee’s skin and incinerated his hair. He was 17 years old when this city was destroyed around him.

“First, it was a yellow light like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Lee said. “Then, everything was black, dark.”

Almost naked, Lee walked home alone through the inferno. All he saw in the darkness were dead and dying people. Maimed and desiccated, those still alive all pleaded for water, he said. Many died before his eyes.

At home Lee surveyed the odorous pus oozing from his burned back, neck and face. Flies laid eggs in the dead skin.

“I would say to my mother ‘please, just kill me.’” Lee said. “She was crying when she was pulling the maggots from my back. I can still feel her tears dropping on my skin.”

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