A former two-star general in the South Korean Army, Sun-Ha Lim once advised Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
He later married a South Omahan when he was 48 and she was 32. They lived in Germany and South Korea and moved to Omaha in retirement in 1993.
Maj. Gen. Lim, who died Sunday at 95, lived a life that was surely a saga.
“He was such a sweet guy,” said Sandra (Krajicek) Lim, his wife of nearly 47 years. “He always told me I married the wrong man because he had so many betrayals — family, government and so on. But I had quite a life because of him. Extremely interesting.”
At age 6, he survived a life-threatening illness and then was raised by a grandfather. At 13, Sun-Ha was forced into a marriage to a 19-year-old. Near the end of World War II, he was conscripted into the Japanese Army.
In the chaos after the war, Lim and 26,000 other young Koreans swore loyalty to a government the United States had set up in their country. They joined a new security force called the South Korean Constabulary.
They helped keep order in the postwar years and then fought alongside American troops when the Korean War broke out in 1950. The bilingual Lim, 27, briefed MacArthur after Russian forces invaded from the North.
One of the first Korean officers trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, Lim organized the Korean Army Training Center. According to his resume, he commanded the 3rd Republic of Korea Division in the final battle of the Korean War.
Gen. Maxwell Taylor recommended him for the Legion of Merit Command Degree — the highest military honor given to foreigners — which President Dwight Eisenhower signed. Lim became the first Korean on the United Nations Armistice Commission in Panmunjom.
In the years after the 1953 truce, during a second marriage, he had children and ran a transportation company. But he refused to pay kickbacks to the government and eventually lost his company. His wife left him.
Sandra Krajicek, meanwhile, graduated from South High and Omaha University, and earned a master’s degree in guidance counseling at the University of Denver. She became a teacher at an American school in Japan and took a 1969 spring-break trip to Seoul, South Korea.
At a restaurant with friends, she met Sun-Ha Lim. At 6 feet, she said, he stood taller than most Koreans.
“I was so impressed by his manners, how he helped with your chair and your coat, and how his English was so good,” she said. “He handled everything, and was so sophisticated.”
Learning that he was divorced, had children and was older, she said, she wasn’t interested in a relationship. But they met later in Japan, where he took her sightseeing on a train and gave her a pearl necklace.
In 1971, she took him home to Omaha, where her parents met them at Eppley Airfield. “My dad gave him the warmest welcome,” she said. “My mom said, ‘People are people.’ I was so grateful.”
Sandra and Sun-Ha married on Aug. 23, 1971, at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church.
He worked for a while at Boys Town, but they returned to Seoul, where she was a counselor and he helped obtain loans from the World Bank for major infrastructure — water works, highways and apartment complexes.
In the 1980s, they lived for several years in Germany. And in 1993, when he was 70, they retired to Omaha. He kept a low profile, but spent a lot of time on what became his biggest cause — justice for members of the old post-World War II Constabulary.
A later South Korean government denied them pension benefits he said had been promised. In later years he made trips to Washington, D.C., and to Seoul to try — unsuccessfully — to pressure governments.
Sandra Lim said he didn’t want a pension for himself but for the other members and their widows and children. He also wanted their service to be recognized. (His quest was told in 2010 and 2012 World-Herald stories by then-reporter Roger Buddenberg.)
“It really bothered him because he had talked so many Koreans into joining the Constabulary,” Sandra said. “He was totally consumed by that. The issue was keeping him alive — or else it was killing him, I wasn’t sure.”
In the end, he had congestive heart failure and died at home under hospice care.
His funeral is at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Mary Catholic Church, 3529 Q St.
“Sun-Ha was very good-hearted,” his wife said. “He never met a panhandler he didn’t like. I’d say, ‘Some of these guys aren’t legit.’ But he said, ‘It doesn’t matter. If they’re doing that, they’re in trouble.’ ”