SGM HERBERT A. FRIEDMAN (Ret.)
South Korean Flag
North Korean Flag
Note: Some information from this article was used in the writing of the 2019 book: A Voice of the Warm: The Life of Rod McKuen, by Barry Alfonso.
When one studies the thousands of propaganda leaflets prepared by the United Nations forces during the Korean War a strange fact becomes apparent. Although the majority of the leaflets target the North Korean Peoples Army (NKPA) and the Chinese Peoples Volunteer Army (Usually identified as Chinese Communist Forces or CCF), there are a great number of leaflets that were designed for use against North Korean Communist guerrillas that were left behind as the victorious UN forces pushed the retreating Communist forces north.
I spoke to someone recently who believed that all the talk of left-behind Communist guerrillas was just a myth; a propaganda ploy used by the government. I assured this person that there were partisans left behind, in fact, thousands of them, with orders to sabotage and wreak havoc on the South Korean people and government. In fact, antigovernment guerrilla bands, some sponsored by North Korea were a problem long before the war began. It was estimated in 1950 that there were about 8,000 Communist guerrillas within the Republic of Korea. In this article we will very briefly discuss the military operations and the Republic of Korea officers and officials who appear on the various safe conduct passes and surrender leaflets, and then illustrate about a dozen of the leaflets. As I said above, I probably could show a hundred of them, but my intention is just to show those with interesting images. The leaflets depicted are from my own archives, military archives and the Albert G. Brauer collection in North Dakota State University.
Operation Rat Killer
Operation Rat Killer was an extremely successful assault on North Korean Communist troops left behind after the North Korean Peoples Army was driven north. The Republic of Korea Army expected to face about 3,000 guerrillas in the mountains and perhaps another 4,000 in nearby strongholds. They were sorely mistaken. Harry Summers says in the Korean War Almanac, Facts on File, NY, 1990:
In the final phase of the Operation, Task Force Paik again swept through the Chiri San area, and by the end of the campaign on 15 March 1951, some 19,000 guerrillas (over twice as many as had originally been estimated) had been killed or captured.
The Far East Command in Tokyo sent about 9,920,000 Rat Killer leaflets to Korea and so many were dropped that General Paik Sun Yup says in From Pusan to Panmunjom:
The whole enormous Mt. Chiri area was covered with them
The Communist guerrillas believed that Mt. Chiri could not be taken. Not only was it heavily defended, but the UN armies were still advancing in the north. Who could be sent against them? The South Koreans, realizing what a threat the guerrillas were in their rear area, pulled two divisions from the front lines (the 8th Division and the Capital Division) and sent them to clear the mountain area.
In phase 1, the Republic of Korea troops fought to the top of Mt. Chiri and then circled back down; guerrillas trying to escape were captured by police units guarding the roads and escape routes. The impregnable Mt. Chiri fortress was no more.
Phase 2 started 8 December 1951 when the Republic of Korea forces moved on the high grounds surrounding Mt. Chiri. Resistance was much lighter and close to 400 guerrillas surrendered.
Phase 3 began 15 January 1952. The surviving guerrillas had reassembled on Mt. Chiri so the Republic of Korea forces attacked and took it again. By this time, the Korean civilians realized that the Communists were no longer a power and began cooperating with the ROK Army. The guerrillas could no longer rely on their support, intelligence and food. They faded away. Operation Rat Killer was over and just mopping up operations by local authorities remained. The two Republic of Korea infantry divisions returned to the front lines and the real war.
There are different totals for the killed and wounded in that campaign. Official Korean Army records state that 5,800 guerrillas were killed and another 5,700 wounded. Official U.S. Army records say that 9,000 guerrillas were killed. One report we mention below says 25,000 killed or captured. The reader should understand that often these numbers are estimated from blood trails, the size of enemy units, or from a commander who wants a good body count to keep his superiors happy.
Not all of the anti-Guerrilla leaflets prepared by the UN and Korean forces were for Operation Rat Killer. That was one major campaign. There were numerous attacks and acts of sabotage by various smaller bands of partisans and leaflets were often prepared on a tactical basis just for those operations.
In what I assume was an attempt at political correctness, a poster explaining Plan Rat Killer was labeled Plan Rat Trap.
Mark R. Jacobson wrote a PhD dissertation titled Minds Then Hearts: U.S. Political and Psychological Warfare during the Korean War, Ohio State University, 2005. He said in regard to Ratkiller:
From December 1951 to February 1952, Psywar elements actively supported Operation Ratkiller, a Republic of Korea led counterinsurgency effort. During this time Far Eastern Command and Eighth U.S. Army Korea (EUSAK) Psywar elements dropped about 12 million leaflets, directed 9 aerial loudspeaker missions, and conducted almost 300 hours of ground loudspeaker operations in an attempt to break the morale of guerilla forces and convince Korean citizens to stop cooperating with the guerrilla forces. The official history of EUSAK Combat Propaganda Operations by Billy Mossman states that Ratkiller yielded about 9600 prisoners, some 1400-1700 of whom appeared to have surrendered as a result of the Psywar programs.
All of the American PSYWAR officers were not in favor of terms like Killer or Rat Killer. Colonel Alfred H. Paddock Jr. mentions this in U.S. Army Special Warfare - Its Origins:
Still another example of General McClure's technique was his reaction to "Operation Killer," a phrase used by Headquarters, Far East Command in its press releases to describe operations against the North Korean and Chinese forces. The following passage is from a letter written to Major General Willoughby [General MacArthurs PSYWAR Chief in Japan]
I have personally been disturbed by the comparatively few Chinese prisoners we are taking, either by surrender or by capture. I realize that they are not fighting as the Chinese did in their civil wars in the three-year period that I sat along the Shankiwan Railway line. On the other hand, for two thousand years the Chinese have been induced to change sides, even to that of the Japanese, by considerations of personal gain or creature comforts. Is it possible that the "Operation Killer" and the "Hunter Killer Teams" have been so widely publicized to Chinese forces that they do not believe that they would be allowed to surrender? The wide publicity and constant repetition of the "killer" intent of our operations and the gloating of the press, and apparently even the individuals in the Battle Area, over the numbers killed versus the numbers captured, has led to a good deal of unfavorable international reactions.
I fully recognize that our troops must adopt a tough, hard-boiled killer attitude if they are going to not only survive, but to win these battles. I wonder, however, if that indoctrination, which, I repeat, is very necessary, needs to be widely publicized in the press and broadcast to our enemies.
Willoughby's response to McClure acknowledged that the "unfavorable psychological effects caused by recent publicity of such terms as Operational Killer have been recognized here, and you will note that 8th Army news releases have avoided such phraseology.
Some of the Republic of Korea officers and officials that appear on, or signed leaflets used against the Guerrillas are:
GENERAL CHUNG IL-KWON
Chung Il-kwon was a Republic of Korea General during the Korean War. Chung graduated from the Tokyo Military Academy in 1940, then joined the Imperial Japanese Army and served in China. Following the Japanese surrender, he served with the Chinese nationalist army. He was Commander in Chief of the Republic Of Korea Army for much of the Korean War, including the Battle of Inchon in 1950 when General Douglas MacArthur landed his troops after being told that it was an impossible task. He left office after a series of embarrassing events occurred during his watch. In order for him not to lose face, he was sent to the United States to attend Ft. Leavenworths Command and General Staff College.
This leaflet shows a guerrilla who is already receiving good treatment welcoming a newly surrendering POW holding a propaganda leaflet. This leaflet was designed and printed by the ROK PSYWAR Section. It bears an Eighth Army code number and also Korean Army code number (KA-K-4). Some of the text is:
This partisan was smart to surrender. He washed his hands of the life of a hunted wild animal and chose freedom Turn in your weapons immediately to the ROK Army or National Police. Show this certificate and start a new life .
Chung Il Kwon
Lt. Gen. of ROK Army
This leaflet was designed and printed by the Korean Army PSYWAR Section. It was given an Eighth Army code number and a Korean Army code number (K-1). This leaflet, dated 13 March 1951 is a letter addressed to the guerrillas in Chulla Province. The front is all text, so we depict the back of the leaflet that bears a photograph of General Chung. Some of the text is:
Partisans: In the fields and valleys of our battlefield Motherland, spring has come. The severe cold which froze you fingers and swelled your faces has gone, along with the useless resistance of the Peoples Army and the Chinese Communist Forces. Cease senseless fighting and come down at once.
Chung Il Kwon
Gen. of ROK Army
Some other leaflets that bear Chungs picture or signature are: 8126 (South-west guerrillas), and 8516. Chungs signature appears on many more leaflets, but they are to North Korean regular forces and not guerrillas.
GENERAL LEE CHONG CHAN
Lieutenant General Lee Chong Chan was the Chief of Staff of the Republic of Korea Army. In July 1952, Korean President Syngman Rhee dismissed the general because Chan refused to use his military power to help Rhee change the nations Constitution. Rhee ordered Chan to send two divisions to Pusan and Lee refused. Lee was later given the ROK 2nd Division, but felt it was a slap in the face since he was a former Chief of Staff. He eventually accepted the position.
He was replaced by Paik Sun Yup who later become the first South Korean full 4-star general.
The leaflet above depicts Guerrillas wandering in the mountains and thinking of their family at home. It was prepared by the ROK PSYWAR Section and printed by the Eighth Army Psychological Warfare Division G3. Some of the text is:
Partisans: You are suffering from hunger and cold. You are driven from the mountains to the valleys. Your parents, wives and children are eagerly waiting for your return...
The bearer of this leaflet is determined to become a true citizen of the ROK again, therefore I order the soldiers and police of the ROK Army to guarantee their life and treat them well.
By the wish of the President
Lee Chong Chan
Major General ROKA
Chief of General Staff
The leaflet above depicts a Guerrilla with giant guns aimed directly at him. It was prepared by the Republic of Korea PSYWAR Section and printed by the Eighth Army Psychological Warfare Division G3. The safe conduct pass on the back is dated December 1951. Some of the text is:
Partisans: Now you are the target of powerful weapons and the only way to survive is to come back to the Republic of Korea.
The bearer of this leaflet is determined to become a true citizen of the Republic of Korea again. Therefore, I order the army and the police of the Republic of Korea Army to guarantee his life and treat him well. (Any number of partisans can use one certificate).
By the wish of the President
Lee Chong Chan
Major General ROKA
Chief of General Staff
I require the local residents to guide the bearer of this safe conduct pass to the soldiers and police of the Republic of Korea or to the prisoner-of-war camp.
This leaflet to the Communist Guerrillas fighting in South Korea depicts a mother holding a baby and surrounded by other children. The artwork and text on the leaflet was done by the Republic of Korea Army and bears their code number K-109 on the front. The leaflet was printed by the Eighth U.S. Army - Korea's G-3 Operations branch and given the U.S. code 8205. The text says in part:
My Dear Husband: If you are killed as a rebel, how are you children to be raised in the future? Do you not desire to be seen with your lovely children?
The text goes on to ask the husband to return home and cease resisting the Republic of Korea Army. It tells the finder that the pass can be used to surrender to the Republic of Korea Army. The leaflet is signed by Lee Chong Chan, Major General, Chief of Staff ROKA.
This 25 June 1952 EUSAK G3 leaflet features Tangoon, the legendary father of all Koreans. The artwork and text is by the ROKA. The text on the front is:
BROTHERS! GRANDFATHER TANGOON CALLS YOU!
COMRADES! COME BACK TO THE REAL FATHERLAND
TO THE BOSUM OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA
The text on the back is:
SAVE YOUR LIFE!
Comrades! You have been wandering here and there suffering from hunger and sorrow. What did you gain from this? Nothing but death! Many of your comrades who realized their foolishness have come back to the bosom of a free Korea. You are sacrificing your life not for liberty and peace as your leaders say, but for the Communist aggressors who have brought slavery and death to our people. You must save your life. Come back! Come back to the bosom of free Korea. It is not too late!
SAFE CONDUCT PASS
Lee Chong Chan
Chief of General Staff, ROKA
Some of the Eighth U.S. Army leaflets that bear Lees picture or signature are: 8190 (You are like a mouse before a cat), 8192 (Letter from guerrilla Chao Chong Hyun), 8193, 8195 (Partisans who have been wandering in the mountains), and 8223 (Letter from guerrilla Paik Dong Ho)
Two generals signed this leaflet. Lee Chong Chan is most famous for refusing to let the Army interfere in politics in 1952. I could find nothing on Lee Yong Moon. This 19 July 1952 Eighth Army G3 leaflet depicts a family eating a meal together and the wife thinking of her husband in the mountains. The artwork and text is by the ROKA and their code for this leaflet is K-125. Some of the text is:
GO BACK TO YOUR HOME AT ONCE!
YOUR PARENT AND BROTHERS SHED TEARS, FOR THEY WORRY
ABOUT YOU IN THE MOUNTAINS WHENEVER THEY EAT GOOD FOOD
SAFE CONDUCT PASS
The bearer of this leaflet is determined to become a true citizen of the Republic of Korea again, and Army and Police are ordered to guarantee his life and treat him well.
LEE CHONG CHAN LEE YONG MOON
LT. GENERAL K.A. BRIG. GENERAL K.A.
CHIEF OF STAFF
ASST CHIEF OF STAFF
GENERAL PAIK SUN YUP
Paik Sun Yup entered Mukden Military Academy of Manchukuo. After graduation, he became an officer of the Manchukuo Imperial Army. He first engaged in Anti-Japanese resistance in eastern Manchuria, later joined the Japanese campaign on northern China for ten months from 1944 to 1945. At the end of the war he returned to Pyongyang but in December 1945 he saw the Communists taking power in North Korea and fled south. He was commissioned a First Lieutenant in the Constabulary, the predecessor of the Republic of Korea Army. In April 1951, Paik was placed in command of the ROK I Corps in charge of eastern Korea. In November 1951, U.S. Army General James Van Fleet ordered Paik to mount a campaign against guerrilla activity in the Chiri Mountains of southwestern Republic of Korea. The guerrillas were conducting well-coordinated raids on rail lines and rear echelon installations. The Republic of Korea I Corps, later named Task Force Paik, began its campaign, dubbed Operation RAT KILLER, in December. When the operation finished in March 1952, Task Force Paik had captured or killed an estimated 25,000 guerillas (see other numbers above). In recognition of the success, he was promoted to Lieutenant General and Task Force Paik was transformed to the new Republic of Korea II Corps On July 23 1952, three and a half months after taking command of the II Corps, General Paik was appointed ROK Army Chief of Staff, the highest position in the ROK Army, replacing General Lee Chong Chan.
The Mountainous Chiri-san Region
During the Korean War, North Korean troops occupied the region. After the United Nations forces retook the area, a considerable number of North Koreans remained in the mountains, where they continued a guerrilla war until they were finally beaten in 1955, two years after the cease fire was signed by the belligerents.
The Anti-Guerrilla Warfare Service Medal
The Republic of Korea issued an "Anti-Guerrilla Warfare Service Medal" for its troops who fought in the area and a movie about the fighting was later produced.
This theme of the superiority of UN firepower was used by the U.S, in WWII against the Japanese, in Vietnam against the Viet Cong and in Desert Storm against Saddam Hussein. A lone soldier with dozens of weapons aimed against him seems to be a very popular image.
In this case the guns and aircraft are all aimed at a Guerrilla fighting in the hills against the Republic of Korea. The leaflet was designed by the Korean Army PSYWAR Section and printed by the Eighth Army Psychological Warfare Division G3. The text says in part:
You are surrounded. Air strikes are on the way. Why lay down your life needlessly? Raise white flags or raise your hands to surrender. Your life will be spared.
Paik Sun Yup
Major Gen. ROKA
ROK Forces in Chiri-san
This leaflet depicts freezing North Korean soldiers on the front. The back is a formal safe conduct pass. The leaflet was designed by the Korean Army PSYWAR Section and printed by the Eighth Army Psychological Warfare Division G3. The text says in part:
THE WAY YOU SAVE YOUR LIFE
The weather is getting colder day by day and the number of partisans is decreasing day by day. The ROK forces are pressing the siege circle minute by minute and the weary partisans are dying hour by hour. Is it my fate to die like a dog in these deep mountains?
Surrender with this safe conduct pass Do not throw your arms away. Bring your arms on your back. Approach the soldier or police with your hands up raised and shout Hurray for the ROK. A reward will be given to those who surrender with their weapons.
Paik Sun Yup
Lt. Gen. ROKA
Because the Koreans were part of the Japanese Empire for many years, some of the leaflets replace the term Hurray for the ROK with Banzai for the ROK.
Like leaflet 8214, leaflet 8215 is minimal. The leaflet was designed by the Korean Army PSYWAR Section and printed by the Eighth Army Psychological Warfare Division G3. The text says in part:
You know that the partisans are surrounded by the Republic of Korea Army now, and your fate is like a rat in a trap.
You know well that the Republic of Korea Armys liquidation of the partisans will continue until the last one is eliminated.
You know well that the North Korean Peoples Army will no longer help you, so your expectation is a dream.
You know these facts better than anyone else. But there is one thing you do not know. If you partisans come back to the Republic of Korea, It will accept you as the father who lost his son, accepts his son that is the thing you do not know.
The certificate guarantees the safety of your life.
Leaflet 8221 is all text. The leaflet was designed by the Korean Army PSYWAR Section and printed by the Eighth Army Psychological Warfare Division G3 dated 20 January 1952 after some minor changes were made. The text says in part:
Lieutenant General Paik Sun Yuk has announced that the partisans in Cholla Province have suffered a deadly conclusive blow. General Paik announced on 15 January that the Capitol Division of the Republic of Korea Army has relieved the people of the Southwest area in regaining their public order and peace, and at the same time the General the brilliant and glorious action of the Division which will be remembered forever by the people of this country.
On 19 January, the Capitol Division encircled the main force of the partisans in the Chiri-san area and struck them severely for 24 hours. As a result of this combat, the Division killed many partisans including the following leaders
A long list of captured political and military officers followed this text.
Some of the Eighth U.S. Army leaflets that bear Paiks picture or signature are: 8180 (To Chiri San partisans), 8180A (To all partisans), 8181 (To all Communist sympathizers in Chiri San), 8182 (To the people of Chiri San area), 8185 (The Communists have employed human sea tactics), and 8219 (To partisans).
This leaflet depicts North Korean guerrillas holding a safe conduct pass and surrendering to a smiling National Policeman while thinking of their death had they stayed in the mountains. The leaflet was designed and printed by the Eighth Army Psychological Warfare Division G3 and sent to the Home Minister of the Republic of Korea, Lee Soon Yong, for his personal chop (signature). This same image and signature was used again on leaflet 8173, which is identified as a modification of leaflet 8163. Three paragraphs were added to the back of the second leaflet with the headings: Partisans; Comrades; and Friends. Some of the text on leaflet 8163 is:
Come over to our side without fear! We will give you good treatment!
To the Republic of Korea National Police: The partisans with this leaflet desire to cease resistance. Give them humane treatment in accordance with the provisions of International law.
Lee Soon Yong
Republic of Korea
This leaflet depicts the Korean Independence Gate and is in the form of a Guerrilla Newssheet. It was prepared by the Eighth Army General Headquarters. Some of the text is:
Enter onto a road of light that promises you a united and independent Korea. Do not sacrifice your life in useless resistance.
Some of the stories in the newssheet are:
Kaesong Progress of the UN Communist peace talks.
United Nations reconstruction plans for Korea.
Communist purges on the Chinese mainland.
This Korean-made leaflet is also coded 8376 in the lower right corner. It depicts a noble fighter in classic early Korean dress defeating one bandit and watching two others that are running away. The text at the top of the leaflet is:
Defeat the Communists with the Spirit of Hwarang!
Note: Hwarang is a historical group of officers of one of Ancient Korea's kingdoms; Silla. South Koreans like to trace their historical roots to Silla since that nation unified Ancient Korea in the distant past. Silla was originally a Kingdom based in the Gyongsang Province, which is the south eastern part of Korea.
North Koreans like to trace their historical roots to Koguryo, the ancient Kingdom based on the Northern part of Korea. It was once very powerful, and fought off and conquered various barbarian tribes before being conquered by Silla.
The back of the leaflet is an extremely long text that we will not translate. A brief synopsis is that the leaflet discusses Silla and the three kingdoms and how the Hwarangs of Silla were able to overcome their adversaries. It tells the South Koreans that they are the descendants of the brave Hwarangs of Silla who unified Korea. It reminds them of the bravery and patriotism of their ancestors and asks them to report any sightings of the Communist bandits to the nearest police station. It criticizes the grey action, or inactivity due to fear of those who see the bandits but do nothing. It calls upon all people to act when they see any bandits or communists:
Do not taint the names of your ancestors. Report the Communists.
The official South Korean term for bandits is bbarchisan, a butchered pronunciation of the word partisan. The bandits seem to be a mixture of South Korean guerrillas that went feral and North Korean stragglers who were left behind after their forces were cut in two by General MacArthurs Inchon landing operations.
This leaflet was created by the Psychological Warfare Division G3 (Operations) of the 8th US Army in Korea on 13 September 1952. It targets South Korean Guerrillas helping the Communists. Of course, the South Koreans call them Bandits not guerrillas. The Republic of Korea Army and some civilians helped write the text. The front depicts Roses of Sharon and the South Korean flag. South Korean civilians are asked to help in the capture of the guerrillas. The text is extremely long so I will just translate a few paragraphs:
Civilians in the area where Communist bandits are being eliminated!
You have already experienced the vicious deeds of the Communists. Let us study once more their anti-Democratic and inhuman exploitation. They slaughter your beloved husbands and children. They ruin your rich farming land and set fire to your house; destroy roads; bridges and communication facilities. They confiscate food and horses, pigs, cattle, chickens and other livestock, while telling the people that they are shedding blood for the proletariat. Do you believe that they will carry out a policy which will benefit the people?
The Communists shout that they are fighting for the people and the Fatherland, but they insist you prepare for internationalism. Are they not the greatest traitors in history?
Those who sympathized with Communism have ruined their fortunes, and everyone under Communist domination is poor. Where do you think all the property has gone .
This leaflet is a very long all-text testimonial surrender appeal titled: My former partisan comrades who are wandering in the mountains It was designed by the Eighth U.S. Army-Korea Operations Section, requested by the Republic of South Korea Army who actually supplied the text. The text is far too long to show, so I shall just add some selected sentences from former guerrilla Choi Suk-yung who has seen the light and come over to the South:
I thought my ideas and my actions were right. But, I realized that my past was false and criminal after I surrendered to the Republic of Korea Army at Taedong-gol on 18 January.
I tell you how I realized that my past was wrong. First of all, I found out that the people of the Republic of Korea have the freedom of speech. Second, I found out that it was false propaganda of the Communists that if the partisans are captured the Republic of Korea Army will kill the partisans. Third, the Republic of Korea has a great passion and deep love in seeking a happier and better life for its people.
Partisan Comrades! Do not hesitate! Come out! I appeal honestly to you who have lost the way of life and are wandering in the mountains.
My former partisan comrades! We shouldnt be cheated any more by the Communist rascals. You are feeding the Communist leaders by plundering food from innocent people. Is this the righteous action for the happiness of your people?
This leaflet targets the Guerrillas in South Korea. At the top, Godless Communism sends the guerrillas to their death. Below, the God of Freedom points the way to peace and happiness. The artwork and text was produced by the Republic of Korea Army. The text on the front is:
LETS WELCOME THE RETURNEES WARMLY
WHICH ONE WILL YOU CHOOSE?
The text on the back says in part:
SAFE CONDUCT PASS
Come back to your home town at once with this safe conduct pass. This is the only way you can save your life. Do not miss the opportunity!
1 January 1952
Do not inflict any hazard upon the Partisans who come back to the Republic of Korea with this safe conduct pass.
Give warm clothes and food to Partisans who have come back to the Republic of Korea.
Report to headquarters at once those Partisans who have returned to the Republic of Korea and take them to the returnees camp immediately
Another long all-text testimonial surrender appeal except for a tiny photograph of former guerrilla Lee Uk, former Chief of Staff of the North Korean Army 86th Division at the upper right. I note that all the leaflets from 8217 to 8223 are appeals for the Guerrillas to surrender, offering good treatment. This leaflet was designed by the Eighth U.S. Army-Korea Operations Section, requested by the Republic of Korea Army who supplied the text. The text is far too long to show, so I shall just add some selected sentences:
I am hoping that the Republic of Korea Armys elimination of the partisans will be ended soon. Soldiers of the North Korean Army who are wandering in the mountains! Partisans who are still fighting under the supervision of Party leaders against the Republic of Korea Army and suffering from hunger and cold!
You think that I and other thousands of your former comrades are dead ; but we are alive and receiving good treatment of which you cannot even imagine from the Republic of Korea Army. Captured guerrillas! Yes, that is what we are, but we receive good treatment.
Even though we were captured by the Republic of Korea Army after fighting against them, the Republic of Korea Army treats us warmly with fraternity. Because we are the same blood brothers, the Republic of Korea Army gives us good food and warm clothes.
This all-text leaflet was prepared by the U.S. Eighth Army in Korea Operations Section. It targets Guerrillas in South Korea. Some of the text is:
You know that many of your comrades have sacrificed their lives for nothing in this senseless resistance. You also know that many of your friends have left their units and given themselves up to the Republic of Korea.
Why do you still hesitate? Do you believe it is your fate to suffer from hunger and cold? Do you think it is heroic to die senselessly, betraying your own country? Do you feel ashamed to come back to the bosom of the Republic of Korea?
We have witnessed from the air the miserable scene of you being driven by the Republic of Korea forces from mountain to valley. The Republic of Korea forces will continue to fight until the last one of you is eliminated.
Comrades! We hold your life dear. Take the first opportunity. Come back while your heat still beats.
Headquarters Task Force Paik
This leaflet was created by the Psychological Warfare Division G3 (Operations) of the 8th US Army in Korea on 27 September 1952. The image depicts a former South Korean soldier who has been drafted or forcibly conscripted by North Korea straining to get back to his family in the South. The text on the front is:
Ex-Republic of Korea Soldiers! Come Back Home!
The text on the back says in part:
TO ALL EX-ROK SOLDIERS IN THE NORTH KOREAN PEOPLES ARMY
Many of your comrades have escaped from the slavery of their life in the North Korean Peoples Army. But many more of you continue to suffer the discrimination and hardship imposed on you because you fought for Korea against the Communist invaders.
Have hope.You have not been forgotten. Your family and friends await the joyful day of reunion with you. Watch for and seize your opportunity to escape to the south. Plan now, and escape the yoke of Soviet aggression. How else can your beloved families ever hope to see you again?
This leaflet was created by the Psychological Warfare Division G3 (Operations) of the 8th US Army in Korea. On one side it depicts Dissidents or guerrillas in combat near a farm at the top, and below peaceful farmers near the same farm. It is addressed to those from the North who have stayed behind in South Korea and tells them that they are losing support. The text is:
DEAR BROTHERS AND COUNTRYMEN
The days of peace have almost arrived. The war in South Korea could be over. The North Korean Communists have stopped supporting you long ago. The Communists have quit.
The war is over for everyone but you.
The other side depicts a single guerrilla holding a Republic of Korea flag. The text says in part:
Is the war over for you? No!
Are you now at home with wife and child? No!
Instead, you are still an outlaw.
You will be constantly hunted by the Korean Army and the police.
You are despised by your countrymen.
You will be hunted and destroyed.
Come back to your people. We have been sad since you left. Let us reunite and rejoice.
This leaflet was created by the Psychological Warfare Division of the U.S. Eighth Army G3 (Operations) on 2 November 1952. The text and image was prepared by the Republic of Korea Army and note that they also have a code number K-147 on the leaflet. The leaflet is aimed at those North Korean troops and dissident South Korean collaborators that stayed behind as guerrillas. The front of the leaflet depicts a Korean defector sitting with a South Korean Officer. The text is:
COMRADE CHA IL PYONG WHO IS WAITING FOR YOUR QUICK RETURN
COMRADE CHA IL PYONG IS TALKING WITH A REPUBLIC OF KOREA OFFICER
The back is all text and says in part:
I AM WAITING FOR YOUR QUICK RETURN
Dear Former Comrades!
I appeal, with my whole heart, to you who are living a miserable mountain life; being driven from the mountains to the valleys. Come back as soon as possible and start a new life! Comrades! I was one of your high-ranking officers. I am very sorry that I could not bring you with me to the bosom of the Republic of Korea at that time. I regret leaving you alone in the deep mountains.
Now I am impressed by the leniency and compassion of the Republic of Korea. I have also started a new life for the reconstruction of our Fatherland. Comrades! Come back at once! Do not suffer from the cold winter, Come back to the flag of the Republic of Korea.
Cha Il Pyong
Former Vice-Political Commissar of the Southern Army.
Former Professor of the Kim Il Sung University.
You can use this leaflet as a safe conduct pass.
This leaflet depicts a North Korean guerrilla reading a Propaganda leaflet. The leaflets was designed by the Korean Army PSYWAR Section and printed by the Eighth Army Psychological Warfare Division G3. Some of the text is:
The thought of dying senselessly as a traitor to our country and to our people disturbs me. I must rejoin our people and do my best to help in the rehabilitation of the Republic of Korea .
This leaflet bears the picture of Lee Chung Yul and his family. It was requested by the ROKA, with some changes made by EUSAK G3. It targeted Guerrillas in South Korea. The text is:
I've surrendered! I parted from the terrible and eerie guerrilla's life which promises nothing but inadequate clothing, hunger and death. I have surrendered to see my family again and to seek freedom and truth. Your superiors had told you without any reliable sources that If you surrender, you will be killed at once or will be sentenced to life imprisonment.
But, look! I, Lee Chung Yul, who was a reporter of the Jeun Book Worker's Press, and other additional thousands of your former comrades have surrendered. Many of your comrades were captured. But all of us are given good food and warm clothes instead of death, and are free to start a new life with our families who have longed so much for us to return, instead of being sentenced to life imprisonment.
Today, the Republic of Korea is accepting the innocent Partisans comrades who were forced to go into the mountains. The time is passing! It is too valuable to be wasted. The more time you waste the longer your life will be in danger.
The Republic of Korea is waiting for you to come down from the mountains so that the ROK will be able to let you enjoy your freedom. Come back to the bosom of your fatherland, the Republic of Korea.
Lee Chung Yul, a former reporter of the
Jeun Book Worker's Press.
This 17 January 1952 leaflet was developed by ROKA and printed with minor changes by EUSAK G3. It features the flag of the Republic of Korea. Some of the text is:
To the Partisans:
COME BACK! Dont you know that your home-town and your warmhearted friends are waiting for you to come back?For what do you suffer such hardship?
LOOK! Youve suffered much from hunger and inadequate clothing since you left your home and your family. In consequence of your suffering, what have you gained and what is there left of you? Youve gained nothing, but made your innocent people cry, sad, and die. Youve done nothing but helped the greedy eternal traitor, Kim II Sung, to be sacrificed by sacrificing yourselves and your people.
Surely, you have been cheated!! Kim II Sungs traitors group is sacrificing you and destroying your fatherland for the Russians false promise, the proletarian revolution.
We know the truth better than anyone else, so the government as well as your family and other patriotic Koreans are wishing you would come back to your home at once. Opportunity has come! Come back without fear. The government will not only protect you, but also guarantees your life in the future.
If you wont realize the fact and continue the resistance, betraying your peoples expectation, you will be eliminated. You are surrounded by a large number of ROKA soldiers, with modern weapons
Other unsigned leaflets to the guerrillas are 8118 (Foolish death - waiting wife and children), 8134 (Guerilla newssheet), 8147 (How happy we would be if our soon came home), 8194 (Song of June 25th), 8200 (Letter from guerrilla Cha Il Pyoung), 8221 (Special News Guerrillas in Chulla Province), and 8231 (TF Paik - Letter from guerrillas Ryoo Min Woo and Choi Hong Nye).
I mentioned earlier in this article that there were a great number of leaflets aimed at the Communist guerrillas during the course of the war. Most of the leaflets above were produced in 1950-1951 as part of Plan Rat Killer. Even after that campaign, guerrillas continued to terrorize the citizens of South Korea. The leaflet above was prepared by the Korean Army and printed by the U.S. Army 1st Leaflet and Loudspeaker Company in August 1953. The shooting phase of the Korean War ended in an armistice on 27 July 1953. The leaflet shows a very dead Communist guerrilla leader after the end of the war so it is clear that the left-behind troops were fighting on. The text says in part:
Lee Hyun Sang is gone!
Lee Hyun Sang who commanded you through the joint conference of chairmen of all area parties has been killed. His corpse will be happily interred by a combined military and national police unit.
Give up your useless resistance and surrender to us!
This ends our brief look at Korean War leaflets aimed not at the North Korean or Chinese Armies, but instead at Communist guerrillas left behind in South Korea. The reader should understand that I have just mentioned a very few leaflets here. It is clear that there are many more and as I locate them in my files I might add more leaflets to this story. For the moment, this article is just meant to point out that the Korean War was more involved than most people think, with battles going on both in front of and behind the battle lines.
Postwar U.S. Propaganda to Korea
In 2017, I was approached by an author writing a book on actor, singer and poet Rod McKuen. Rod did his basic training in 1953 as in infantryman at Fort Ord, California, and perhaps because he had a radio show in California called Rendezvous with Rod, his advanced training at the Army Public Information School at Ft. Slocum, New York. He served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955, and was first assigned to the Voice of the United Nations Command (VUNC) Radio Station in Japan during the Korean War. The VUNC went on the air 29 June 1950, four days after the North Korean invasion. It was created by the Far East Command G2 (Intelligence), later called the Psychological Warfare Branch. The studios were borrowed from the Armed Forces Radio Station and the Korean translators were from the Korean Embassy and radio staff from Korea that had escaped to Japan.
His initial job in Tokyo was to write propaganda scripts to be translated into Korean. In addition, he wrote copy for radio drama series and leaflets all translated by someone else into Korean and then beamed or dropped behind enemy lines. In some biographies he claimed that he sang in Japanese bars with the Armys permission, but in a private letter he said:
I was busted from that cushy but dull job, demoted from PFC to plain old private and sent to a unit in Korea. All because I was caught singing after hours in a Tokyo nightclub.
After the war, he worked as a Civil Information expert with the Korean Civil Assistance Command in Taegu. McKuen apparently liked to exaggerate, so there is no telling how true some of his comments on the war are.
He claimed he had created a character named Moran, a sort of Korean Tokyo Rose who spoke quietly and played sentimental music. A typical script might begin:
Hello, My Midnight Companion, It's S0 romantic and warm in Seoul tonight, I wish you were here to share this autumn night with me.
The idea was to make each North Korean soldier think she was speaking only to him. Defection to the South was the plan. He also claimed his scripts worked so well that there were major defections and he was named a wanted war criminal by North Korea.
The author wanted to know what his duties would be and what kind of propaganda might McKeon be involved in after the war. The reader should remember that peace was never declared, and even though the guns had ceased firing, propaganda was still being printed. I told the author all I knew and then remembered that I had several propaganda pieces prepared by the United States in 1955 and 1956. I will add some of those items here with a brief description.
Our Village Number 5 (AL-2) 25 September 1954
This is a semi-weekly leaflet to civilian farmers in the areas where the bandits (Communist stay-behinds) operate and in the liberated areas. It was prepared by the Republic of Korea Psywar Division but was printed by the Eighth U.S. Army. It was designed to promote reconstruction of the farms by telling the farmers of the most modern farming methods, news from home and abroad, and comments on the failure of Communism. The leaflet contains photographs, cartoons, folktales and stories. The leaflet starts:
We have a saying, farming is the fundamental industry of a nation. Regardless of the time or the nation, the industry of agriculture is the foundation of existence for the human being We have two purposes: to substantially improve the farmers life; and to thank and repay your patriotism which you have displayed in rehabilitating and reconstructing the farmland devastated by the Korean War
News Sheet Free World Weekly Digest 218 - 20 June 1955
This news sheet was printed by the U.S. Army all through the Korean War and I have seen copies of it dated June 1951. When the war was over, the Far East Psychological Warfare Detachment continued to print it. It is a weekly news sheet containing news, photographs and cartoon for the Republic of Korea civilian population.
The issue of the news sheet features U.S. Army General Maxwell Taylor, Indias Nehru and the USSRs Bulganin. Some of the stories are:
General Taylor received Republic of Korea decoration; San Francisco prepares for U.N.s 10th anniversary; Murder in the demilitarized zone; U.S. Cotton and tobacco to Republic of Korea; The rebuilding of war torn Korea; and VUNC radio schedule.
News Sheet Bright Hope BH23, 3 April 1956
Since the article is about Guerrillas left in South Korea, we depict a newsletter addressed to the people of the liberated areas of the Republic of Korea. The news sheet was produced semi-monthly in cooperation with the Korean Army as part of a consolidation effort aimed at the people liberated from Communist control. It was a 10 x 16-inch black and white news sheet designed to be folded. The sheet also had the American code 2596. The text is hand-printed. Some of the stories in this issue are:
The Communist double-cross in Korea; The Republic of Korea Army is second in the free world; Atomic weapons will be used if the Communists invade again; The frantic purge of East German Communists has filled their jails; and Dulles calls for the liberation of the enslaved people.
Submission Leaflet 2414 1 June 1956
This leaflet was printed on a poor quality paper. It is 8 x 10-inches, printed all in black and white. It is addressed to Communist Bandits in the Mt. Ilwol area. It was produced by the 2nd Korean Army but as always was printed by the U.S. Eighth Army. It addresses the bandit leader by name and describes the conditions they are living under while other bandit groups have surrendered. It names the bandit leaders that have surrendered. It explains the futility of trying to escape back to North Korea and emphasizes that even if they do make it back north they will be severely punished for their failures. It promises amnesty and welcomes them back to their brothers in the south.
Other types of postwar propaganda include a patriotic calendar (31 August 1954); a waterworks poster entitled More treated water for the people of the Republic of Korea (31 January 1955); a 10th Anniversary of the U.N. poster (14 June 1955) a leprosy poster (12 December 1955), and another large 17 x 21-inch news sheet entitled "Rehabilitation News."
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