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Author’s note: When my good friend retired Major Ed Rouse asked me to write an article on psychological operations many years ago it seemed like a simple project. I was an expert on the field of propaganda and could choose any of America’s wars, starting with WWI and going all the way to Korea, Vietnam or the smaller conflicts like Grenada and Panama. Then it became more complicated. My British friends said, “What about us,” so I wrote about their operations in Malaya, Kenya, and Aden among others. Then other old friends in Rhodesia and India said “What about us?” Then American units that did not see combat and individuals who wanted to tell their story said “What about us?” Over 120 articles later I received a note from a Marine who served on the ground in Korea. He did not drop leaflets; he picked them up during his advances and retreats. I thought his story was interesting enough to write a short article illustrated with many of the leaflets he found and saved during his combat tour.

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United States Marine Sergeant George W. King served in Korea for thirteen months during 1951 and 1952. During his return on the troopship USS General Nelson W. Walker in March 1952, he wrote this record of his time in that war-torn country. Like all the young patriotic men who eagerly joined the service to help protect their country, he returned a much more mature adult; one who had seen the horrors of war and was changed forever. He had seen many of his friends die and seen entire units decimated. He mourns the 4,004 members of the first Marine Division that were killed in Korea as well as the thousands of young American men from other units.

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George King, Weapons Company, First Marine Regiment

King was fascinated by the aerial propaganda leaflets dropped during the war. During his deployment in Korea he picked the leaflets up off the ground whenever he ran across them. This article will depict some of the leaflets that he found and saved.

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Private First Class George King aboard the Aiken Victory

In 1951, Marine Private George King found himself on the 1944 United States Military Transportation ship Aiken Victory on his way to the “Land of the Morning Calm.” The trip had been long and boring, the ship losing a rudder shaft bearing and carrying 1,800 men instead of the 800 it was designed for. In fact, they had run out of food before sighting land, but Marines were used to such privations. Those old WWII ships were always having problems. I recall on my own “cruise” with 4,000 troops on board, oil somehow got into the water supply and it became undrinkable for about a week. We basically survived on apples and oranges.

In preparation for landing all of the Marines were issued eight clips of ammunition for their M-1 rifles. As dawn broke, the men standing on the decks saw the port city of Pusan for the first time. They were not impressed. The Japanese had done little to modernize the city during their occupation.

The Marines debarked and were placed in Army trucks for the drive north. They soon found themselves in an Army airfield. They spent the night there and were surprised to find that the men serving their meals were North Korean prisoners of war. The following day King watched Marine Corsair fighters taking off and landing after missions against the enemy up north. The Marines were formed in groups of 40 and flew on Army transports to Wonju, about 25 miles from the actual fighting front.

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King on Perimeter Duty

They were immediately trucked northward to Hongchan where the First Marine Regiment in reserve was based. King was assigned to a machinegun platoon for perimeter security. His weapon was the 30 caliber light machine gun. King served under Colonel “Chesty” Puller, the most highly decorated Marine in history. Puller was a colorful character who became famous in WWII and carried that reputation into the Korean War. During the Chinese spring offensive in 1951, Puller contacted the Headquarters of the disintegrating Republic of Korea outfit on the left flank of the Marine division, seeking to determine the strength of the attacking enemy. A Korean answered, “Oh, many, many, many!” Puller spoke to another Korean officer and got the same answer. Finally, he got through to a young Marine officer acting as a liaison to the ROK unit. The lieutenant blurted out, “A whole damn pot full, Sir.” Puller was finally satisfied. “Well, I’m glad someone up there can count.”

During the next few weeks King wandered through the defensive lines investigation strange sights and smells. He found an old trench that was full of dead Chinese soldiers. Nobody had ever bothered to bury them. On a later mission where he acted as a runner between two squads he came across four dead American Army soldiers in a hole in the side of a hill. He told his chain of command about the bodies but was shocked to find little interest. He said that even Graves Registration, the unit tasked with finding and properly making note of where Americans were killed and buried had little interest. He still wonders how many of the missing-in-action Americans are in holes and crevices in the Korean landscape because nobody cared to go bring in the bodies.

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The Marines Move North

On 20 April 1951 the regiment moved 12 miles further north to Chunchen on the banks of the Han River. The Americans ran into tough resistance in that area sometimes called the “Iron triangle.” The 10-mile front was held by the Marines, a Turkish Brigade, a Republic of Korea (ROK) unit and elements of the Second Army Division. King says that during a furious Chinese attack the ROKs broke and ran. The Marines and Army units made a strategic withdrawal, closely followed by the Chinese Communists. As the Marines passed through Chunchen, King’s squad was ordered to burn anything that might be useful to the enemy. He was deeply moved at having to destroy buildings by flame throwers and phosphorous grenades. He was heartbroken to see many old women watch as he burned what was left of the war-savaged homes. As King retreated from Chunchen he could see about 2,000 Chinese crossing the Han River to enter the town. This was their long awaited Spring Offensive. The Marines were given a Presidential Citation for their actions during the retreat. That still amazes King.

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King “Catches some Rays” in the Hwachon Reservoir

That summer the Regiment then went to the Yanggu-Inje front. They took the town and set up a defensive position. The Hwachon Reservoir was nearby so many of the men went swimming and washed their clothes there. King left his weapons company on 28 June 1951 and reported to Easy Company on the line.

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North Korean Soldier ID Card

On one occasion a surrendering North Korean teenager gave King his identification papers. The papers belonged to Joon Young Lee of a machinegun company of the 2nd Regiment of the 32nd Division. He had been drafted into the Army in 1950 from his home city of Inchon.

During earlier patrols King had helped bring in groups of Chinese soldiers who were tired of the war. One time his patrol had found 23 enemy soldiers in a farmhouse and another 17 more in a cave. King thought that the U.N. surrender leaflets dropped each day at nightfall was having an effect. While on these patrols, he picked up about 100 of the leaflets and sent them home.

By July, the Marines were testing the enemy lines, sending out patrols to draw fire. King called these suicide missions. They followed the same pathway at the same time every day. They got the same results – enemy fire. By this time King was carrying the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) and had three men carrying extra ammo for him.

The Marines now settled into kind of a routine while the peace talks were being debated. Sometimes an American unit would fire rockets from King’s area or set up searchlights and that always led to Chinese artillery retaliation. The Chinese regularly bombarded the Marines each day from 6:15 to 6:30 a.m., 1:10 to 1:20 p.m. and 6:40 to 7:00 p.m. After a while the men knew when it was safe to walk around the area, but every now and then the Chinese would be a little early or a little late and that caused problems. One time King was forced to dive for a trench because some Chinese officer had not set his alarm clock. He almost broke his shoulder.

The Marine Regiment was relieved by the U.S. Army Second Division on 11 July. They returned to Hongchon just in time for the seasonal rains. Everything was wet and there was mud everywhere. King was looking for some high ground and he found a Sergeant Major from his home town and managed to get transferred to Weapons Company as part of an 81mm mortar team. He now had a tent and a cot and was promoted to Corporal.

On 4 September the unit was sent back to the Inge front to relieve the 7th Marines. King says:

In just one day they had been decimated. The survivors were dirty, tired, and had that “Thousand yard look.” We set up the mortars at the base of a hill and dug in as best we could. After two hours of digging my foxhole, I crawled into it and pulled a piece of supply parachute over me. No sooner had I stretched out than the word came down to move out. As we moved up the peak I could hear the shells going by. The Chinese had blasted our former position.

King finally dug in at the top of the hill and the rest of the night members of the 7th Marines passed by his position heading south. He called them “the walking wounded.”

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The Morning After – A Marine Among Dead Chinese

On 13 September, King took part in what he calls “The first helicopter operation in history.” The Second Battalion of the First Marines was stalemated in Hill 749. 228 Marines boarded 10 Sikorsky helicopters in 28 separate flights and flew over and behind the Chinese. He says that was the toughest fighting in Korea, with about 90 Marines killed and 714 wounded on Hill 749. The Marines killed 771 Chinese and estimate that the actual losses were double that number. In addition, they captured 81 Chinese soldiers. For the next few days King carried machine gun ammunition and mortar shells up the hill and the dead and wounded down off the hill.

On 16 October the Marines moved up Hill 812. They spent a month there in relative quiet. It started snowing 25 October and did not stop until spring. By 10 December it was so cold that King says you almost wished for death rather than face that minus 20 degree temperature. There was simply no way to warm yourself.

The 81mm mortar unit was sent to the front again but this time had a good position with a log-reinforced bunker, cots, lanterns and stoves. King was relatively happy.

By 16 February 1952 King was back at Camp Tripoli and ready to return home. He was now 20 years old. By 16 March he was onboard the General Walker writing his personal history of the war.

He ends them thusly:

I don’t want to forget the action in Korea, its ugliness and its bitterness. It can and will happen again. I want to do my part to keep it from happening again. I pray to God that He will give us a common understanding with our fellow men and brothers. That we will be spared the foolish, ignorant method of settling our disputes.

Take us under Thy Hand of Kindness, protectiveness and love. Teach us the Golden Rule and the righteous way of life as You intended for us to have.


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The vast majority of leaflets collected by Sergeant George King were produced by the Allies. In theory they are all “United Nations,” although to be more accurate, they were all produced by United States psychological operations (PSYOP) troops under the United Nations Flag. That is why you will generally see a United Nations Flag on Allied leaflets instead of that of the United States. The first leaflet we depict is an enemy product produced by the North Korean Army and left in the barbed wire in front of King’s foxhole on 15 July 1951. The leaflet is rather handsome in a crude way and depicts doves at peace at the left and right and the red Communist star at the center. Some of the English-language text on the front and Korean-language text on the back is:

English text on front:

The General Headquarters of the Korean People’s Army

Officers and men of the U.S., British & other foreign Forces! What are your thoughts today?

Over a year of bitter warfare…How much longer this useless, futile fight…Death for me, or crippled for life…Let the warmongers do their own dirty underhanded work…


Show this pass to the Korean People’s Army or the Chinese volunteers & they will guarantee for you:

Safe conduct in a P.O.W camp.
Full ration of food and tobacco.
Medical care
Suitable housing.
Clothing and necessities.


The Korean Text is mostly the same as the front, but with some interesting twists. Of course, King’s leaflets were translated by Koreans so the text might be expected to be different from the official American translations. Some of the Korean text on back is:

The Headquarters of the People’s Army of Chosen


To the puppet soldiers of Syngman Rhee

Do not throw away your precious lives and die for the deceiving Americans and Syngman Rhee’s gangs!


This pass will guarantee you the following; therefore it is a very precious document.

We will absolutely secure your life.
We guarantee you enough food and housing.
We offer proper medical treatment, clothes, and will provide the daily necessities and guarantee you the use of entertainment facilities.

…As for the reunification and peace of the fatherland you should drop your weapon and come over to the people’s Army or the Chinese volunteer army.

To those who bring this pass we protect their lives and treat them well.


The most amazing thing about this particular leaflet is that it was also produced by the United States with almost identical wording. I am not sure which side used this format first, but John Martin Campbell depicts the American version in Slinging the Bull in Korea, University of New Mexico Press, 2010. The Communist and American leaflets are the same except that the text has been changed in such a way that it now asks the Communists to surrender. Some of the U.S. text is:

Eighth United States Army Korea

Officers and men of the C.C.F., NKPA, & other foreign forces! What are your thoughts today?

Lay down your arms, live to see your friends again.

The only other case I can think of where both sides used virtually the same safe conduct pass was during WWII when the United States produced a pass for Germany signed by Eisenhower, and the Germans retaliated with the same pass but with slightly changed text. In that case the original text was:

The German soldier who carries this safe conduct is using it as a sign of his genuine wish to give himself up. He is to be disarmed, to be well looked after, to receive food and medical attention as required and to be removed from the danger zone as soon as possible. (Signed) Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force.

And the German retaliatory text was:

The German soldier who carries this safe conduct is using it as a sign of his genuine wish to go into captivity for the next ten years, to betray his fatherland, to return home a broken old man and very probably never see his parents, wife and children again. (Signed) Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force.

The Allied leaflets we will depict below were mostly dropped by USAF C-47 light cargo aircraft (Officially named “The Dakota” but fondly remembered as the “Gooney Bird” by the troops) over the enemy each evening at dusk. The aircraft were also equipped with loudspeakers and often made surrender appeals while flying over the enemy. Any enemy North Korean or Chinese soldier approaching the Allied lines with a surrender pass was allowed free passage to the rear. In some cases the enemy employed ruses to get close to the Americans so the Marines were always on high alert when one or more showed up with the leaflets in hand.

I should also point out that many of these leaflets appear in two versions with different code numbers. That is because they were printed in either Chinese or Korean and the message might slightly change according to the target.

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Safe Conduct Pass – MacArthur

Probably the leaflets dropped over the enemy in the greatest numbers were the various safe conduct passes. There were Dozens and perhaps hundreds of different types. Some were signed by generals in an attempt to make them more authoritative. The pass above is one of dozens signed by General Douglas MacArthur. These passes are found in both Korean and Chinese. This particular one exists in several varieties including a longer version with added propaganda text below the safe conduct pass. Prior to the Korean conflict, General Douglas MacArthur had been Commander in Chief, Far East Command, headquartered in Tokyo. Following United Nations approval of the intervention, MacArthur assumed the additional role of Commander in Chief, United Nations Command. On 11 April 1951, General MacArthur was relieved of his Korean command by President Harry S. Truman. Lt. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway replaced MacArthur as U.N. commander.

The text on this standard leaflet is:


Soldiers of the UN forces: This certificate guarantees good treatment to any enemy soldier desiring to cease fighting. Take this man to your nearest officer and treat him as an honorable prisoner of war. (Signed) Douglas MacArthur, General of the Army, Commander-in-Chief.

Notice the choice of words. As in MacArthur’s WWII safe conduct passes to the Japanese, nowhere does this leaflet mention the word “surrender.” The communists do not surrender, they simply “cease fighting.” This wording allows the soldier surrendering to “save face.”

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Safe Conduct Pass – Ridgway

Like General MacArthur, there seems to be dozens of safe conduct passes signed by General Ridgway. The one above is similar to the MacArthur leaflet and has the same message in English Chinese and Korean. The text is:


Soldiers of the UN forces: This certificate guarantees good treatment to any enemy soldier desiring to cease fighting. Take this man to your nearest officer and treat him as an honorable prisoner of war.

Matthew B. Ridgway
General, U.S. Army
Commander-in-Chief, United Nations Command.

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Leaflet 1077

This leaflet actually depicts a Ridgway safe conduct pass along with a vignette of Communist soldiers walking toward a U.N. Tent that is shown to be well stocked with medical goods. The back of the leaflet depicts what will happen to those soldiers who do not surrender. It shows a scene of death and destruction by U.N. tanks and aircraft. The official data sheet for this leaflet states that the title is “Three Choices.” It is aimed at the North Korean Army and depicts starvation, shell fire and exhaustion.

The brief text on the back is:

There are just three things the Communists can give to the soldiers of North Korea:

Starvation Bombardment Tiredness

At the bottom there is a skull and the word:


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Leaflet 1126

So far I have just depicted the front of signed Ridgway leaflets. Leaflet 1126 depicts the standard safe conduct pass signed by General Ridgway and a long propaganda text in the Korean language. The same leaflet was written in the Chinese language and coded 7104. In this case I depict the back of the leaflet, which shows North Korean troops being bombed and living miserably in their foxholes. The last image shows them in a U.N. camp feasting on fresh food. The official data sheet for this leaflet states that its title is “How to surrender” and illustrates steps to be taken by Korean soldiers in surrendering to United Nations forces.

Some of the text on the front of the Chinese language version is:


The longer you continue to fight for the Communists, the more certain you are of facing death. Perhaps you fight to become a hero; but heroism in death is a useless thing.

The real Chinese heroes are those who have gone over to the United Nations lines. They prefer life to death because they know they can best serve China alive….

The text on the back is:

Supply roads are totally destroyed.

Due to the many days of starvation we don’t have the strength to stand up.

The way to freedom and happiness is to surrender to the United Nations!

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Safe Conduct Leaflet –Van Fleet

The brunt of the U.N. action was borne by the U.S. Eighth Army. Lieutenant General James A. Van Fleet took command of the Eight Army on 14 April 1951 when Ridgeway became Commander in Chief of U.N. Forces. Although this leaflet claims that Van Fleet was Commanding General of UN Forces in Korea, as far as I know he only commanded the U.S. Eighth Army. My favorite quote by the general was when he was asked by a newsman, “How will we know when we have won the war?” Van Fleet shook his head and said, “I don’t know, somebody higher up will have to tell me.” The back of this leaflet depicts Communist Chinese troops surrendering in daylight or crawling away from their lines at night and then sitting around, their wounds bandaged, eating and smoking. Some of the text is:

After you read this U.N. leaflet tell your trusted friend about its contents.

The U.N. soldiers will warmly welcome you.

When you escape, do it at night time.

After you have made it to the U.N. side safely you will be fed food, treated warmly and receive proper medical treatment.

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Leaflet 1058

Some of the Allied leaflets simply tried to frighten the enemy. The above leaflet was printed in two versions. In both “Death” beats a drum while a blindfolded Communist soldier follows. In the Chinese-language version (7043) a dying man is on the ground at the right. In the Korean-language version (1058) a crying infant is shown on the ground at the lower right. The official data sheet for this leaflet states that its title is “Impending Death.” It is an anti-morale leaflet and depicts a North Korean soldier blindly following an imaginative personification of death, his back turned to a weeping Korean child. Some of the text is:

Why should I walk on the road of death in this attack?

Why did our officers deceive us about the dreadful power of the U.N. air planes, tank and artillery?

Why did they beat the drums of battle so loud to block my ears from hearing the crying of my wife and children?

Why can’t I be allowed to survive to see my loving family?

Elliot Harris mentions a problem with Chinese perception in The “Un-American” Weapon, Psychological Warfare, which might indicate that this leaflet would not work well on the Chinese. He says:

The Chinese did not appear to identify symbols in the way U.N. leaflets had intended. Skeletons were not identified as such.

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Leaflet 1067

This leaflet was entitled “Character of the United Nations Forces.” It was designed to show the nature and character of the international United Nations troops fighting in Korea. Communism is represented by the figure of Death, while the United Nations forces are depicted in the composite figure of a giant soldier. The text is:

Australia, Ethiopia, Columbia, Canada, France, Greece, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, Turkey South Africa, England and the United Stated of America.

We are the United Nations soldiers. We march to meet you. We are from all over the world, both big and small countries. We are united to destroy aggression. We have no personal grudge against the North Korean soldier. We welcomed those thousands of North Korean soldiers who have come over to our side.

With tears in our eyes we killed those thousands of obstinate North Korean soldiers who wished to carry on the war against their brothers. We will follow the old saying…

A friend to a friend.

An enemy to an enemy.

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Leaflet R-1072

This leaflet depicts the overwhelming might of the United Nations forces arrayed against North Korea. It shows a lone Communist soldier facing a solid wall of artillery, each cannon with the name of one of the United Nations countries. Curiously, the nations are named in English, something that the Korean soldier clearly could not read. Notice that the code has a prefix “R.” This means that the leaflet was considered so effective that an additional order was sent for a reprinting. Some of the text on the back is:

The 54 Free World countries are firmly united to defeat Red China which has tried to make North Korea into a country of slaves. There is no soldier so foolish as to fight alone against 54 soldiers. But, Red China is fighting against 54 countries using Korea as a battleground and wasting Korean resources and Korean blood.

Soldier; stop fighting for the Communist war of slavery and come over to the United Nations and follow all those who are already enjoying safe lives there.

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Leaflet 1102

This leaflet is entitled “Republic of Korean Reunion and Reunification.” It targets Korean soldiers serving with the Communists and attempts to exploit them through good treatment and unification themes. Both 1102 and 1103 depict soldiers with historic Korean personages. Some of the text is:

This is the letter from a Communist soldier who wants to come over to the United Nations side. Even without writing a letter like this you are welcome to the United Nations side.

Dear Republic of Korea Soldier,

North Korean soldiers have forcibly entered the Republic of Korea. I wish for the United Nation’s victory every hour of the day. This terrible war of brother against brother is caused by the Communists. I am so sorry that we have been forced to point guns at you who just want to be left alone in South Korea. I think of suicide but I want to like to see a united Korea and live a happy life there. I wait now and hope to soon see a United Nations victory.

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Leaflet 1121

This leaflet is entitled “Nostalgic” and is designed to show how the war is affecting civilians. It depicts a woman praying amid destruction. Some of the text is:

There are so many North Koreans without food, no place to go and hopeless, wandering in fear and emptiness.

Perhaps this woman could be your mother, loving wife or your sister whom even in your dreams you cannot forget. The Communists took without mercy her house, food, and even her family members. They will even take away her prayers which are her last possession.

Peace! Peace will come only after all the Communists who brought on this war have been driven out. Soldiers! You should cooperate to drive out the Communist aggressors in order to return to your loving family with honor.

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Leaflet 1124

This Korean-language leaflet depicts a peaceful scene of women and children in the market place before the war. The title of the leaflet is:

The United Nations and its aims in Korea

Some of the long text on the back is:

Once there was a peaceful time in Korea. The children ran and played in the villages where apricot flowers bloomed. Men gathered together smoking a long bamboo pipe and talked long hours telling old stories. Women busily shopped. Young men got married and had a happy life.

But one day the Communists started a terrible and miserable war. Peaceful villages were destroyed and people now live in fear. Not too long from now all the villages will be peaceful again when the United Nations brings back peace.

Once again Korea will be tranquil and in the villages we will hear the joyful voices of children. There will be an independent Korea with a free spirit. Faithfully cooperate with the United Nations in order to bring this peace to Korea.

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Leaflet R-1133 A

This leaflet depicts North Korean prisoners getting an issue of new clothing, warming themselves by a fire and getting fed warm food. The back depicts a United Nations emblem at the top and additional text. Some of the text on the front of the leaflet is:

The day when North Korean soldiers drop their rifles and knives and cease to fight, the United Nations will give you clothes, warm shelters and food. We will treat you well according to the Geneva Convention.

Some of the text on the back of the leaflet is:

We will treat you well according to the Geneva Convention!

A great number of your comrades are now treated well according to the Geneva Convention and happily living behind the United Nations lines.

While the Communist leaders stall the armistice hearings your lives are in danger just as is a candle flame in the wind.

We will treat you well according to the Geneva Convention!


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Leaflet 7040

Leaflet 7040 depicts North Korean soldiers trying to walk against the violent waters coming over a dam. The title is:

Can human bodies dam the flow of a river?

Some of the text on the back is:

Officers and Men of the North Korean Army!

You are very busy now because the Communist bosses are preparing for you to die in the foolish belief that the powerful United Nation forces can be defeated. Once again you will be ordered to attack.

We are waiting for you.

We do not wish to kill soldiers forced to fight. Can human flesh resist white-hot searing flame? A rain of steel from airplanes and high explosives that blanket the land?

Can human bodies dam the river or stop the ocean tides? Hundreds of thousands of North Korean soldiers have died needlessly and lie in lost graves because their Communist masters ordered them to attack against certain death.

More than 144,000 North Korean and Chinese soldiers now live in security and comfort provided by the United Nations. They found the way to stop fighting. They are the wise ones….

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Leaflet 8202

This leaflet depicts a diving U.S. fighter (it looks like the old F-80 “Shooting Star”), but the nose of the aircraft has been changed to that of an attacking hawk. It chases a terrified Communist chicken. The leaflet was printed by the Psychological Warfare Division of EUSAK and coded 8202. It was designed to destroy Communist troop morale by pointing out their lack of air support and that the United Nations Forces ruled the skies. This is very similar to WWII propaganda when the Americans asked the Germans, “Where is the Luftwaffe?” A secondary benefit of such propaganda is that an embarrassed Communist Air Force might take to the skies allowing the Allies to shoot down and destroy more of the enemy. Some of the Korean Language text is:


Day and night United Nations aircraft sweep the skies of North Korea. They search in vain for the Communist Air Force, but find the skies as empty as the promises of your leaders. The few Communist aircraft that dare to raise their wings flee from the UN challenge as a chicken before a hawk…

You are deceived! Your leaders promised air support to the front line ground forces,

but you have been left alone and isolated….

The UN Air Force shall continue to dominate the skies, unafraid, challenging, and eager for an opponent.

Curiously, this same leaflet appeared in the April 1952 issue of Air Force Magazine in the “Letters to the Editor” section. A U. S. Air Force Colonel writes in regard to an earlier article in the February issue of Air Force Magazine and says in part:

Recently Eighth Army in Korea produced the only leaflet to date exploiting the psychological impact of air power. This leaflet tells the Reds that despite their leaders’ promise of air support at the front, U. N. aircraft sweep North Korean skies in vain, searching for the Communist Air Force.

This leaflet depicts a “Shooting Star” because that was one of the most modern American fighters early in the Korean War. In fact, the USAF entered the war with WWII prop-driven P-51 Mustangs and Navy F-4U Corsairs. The Communists introduced the MiG-15 Fagot and it was the finest fighter of the war until the introduction of the American F-86 Sabre-Jet. This leaflet was issued again later in the war with an almost an identical image and Chinese text coded 8623.

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Leaflet 8608

I had no intention of adding this last Eighth U.S. Army propaganda leaflet for the Chinese, but when I looked at it I immediately said “I know this leaflet.” It is a perfect example of how a good idea lives on forever, and a good image may return in later wars. This leaflet depicts a female crying over the body of a dead Communist soldier. Steven E. Pease says about it in PSYWAR – Psychological Warfare in Korea 1950-1953, Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA 1992

The message of this U.N. leaflet is that the Chinese soldier’s wife or mother will weep when he dies on the battlefield.

The official data sheet calls this leaflet “Surrender Appeal” and says that survey results indicate that the mute cartoon characters employed in this leaflet convey the intended message to both literate and illiterate audiences in an effective manner.

A mother is at home missing her child, when are you coming home?
The wounded child is on the battlefield crying: Mom, I'm finished.

Some of the text is:

…The United Nations soldiers are trying to establish a buffer zone along the front battle lines to end the war. But the Communist leaders want to extend the battle lines back to the 38th Parallel which was the symbol of divided Korea for the last five years. Why should there be continuous suffering and blood-letting in order to just claim a few more miles of ground? Demand a ceasefire of this useless war…

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Vietnam Special Project Leaflet SP-2141

Over a decade later, another American PSYOP specialist used almost the same vignette on a leaflet aimed at the Communist Vietnamese troops. Leaflet SP-2141 depicts a mother crying over the image of her dead son, killed while fighting. The leaflet is designed to encourage enemy soldiers to rally to the government side before being killed in battle. PSYOP records indicate that 15 million copies of this leaflet were prepared in December 1967 and forwarded to Da Nang, Nha Trang, Pleiku, Bien Hoa, and Can Tho. The text on the front of the leaflet is:

We cry for the dead
We are bitter because of the Communists
have destroyed our families.
When will mothers and children be reunited?

There are a number of Korean War Chinese-language map leaflets coded from 8600. They all seem to show the Chinese routes to the south that they can use to surrender.

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Leaflet 8620

This Eighth U.S. Army Korea (EUSAK) leaflet is in red and depicts a map on the front with four arrows leading south. The vignette on the back shows a Smiling United Nations soldier smoking and holding a pack of cigarettes. A Chinese soldier is seen coming out of the woods with a surrender leaflet in his hand. He has apparently been seduced by the offer of the cigarettes. I have also seen a version of this same leaflet in brown on an 8 x 10-inch sheet with the UN symbol. The text on the front of this leaflet is:

This is our lifesaving gift to you.

(1) Select a well-covered hiding place where you will not be discovered, in front of your positions near the UN force.
(2) Sneak away from your unit at night and hide in this place.r
(3) Remain hidden and wait for daylight. r
(4) Throw away your weapons, at daylight come over to the UN forces and bring your wounded comrades.
(5) When approaching UN positions raise your hands.

The back has a tactical message to specific named Chinese regiments:

Officers and men of the 349th, 350th and 351st Regiments of the 117th division: This is the good news you have been waiting so long to hear! You must be fed up with the inhuman treatment given to you by the Communist party, no one could put up with it! Accept our good will offer and escape using the routes and instructions shown on the back and you won't have to suffer as a victim anymore!

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Leaflet 8621

This full sized 8 x 10-inch Eighth U.S. Army Korea sheet is printed in red-brown and depicts three arrows pointing southward toward safety. The title at the top of the map is: 

Here is a way out!

The term “way out” as written can also mean “livelihood” or “career change” or literally a “life road” or “living road.” It is an excellent use of the Chinese terminology. The surrender message beneath the map is identical to that of 8620 above.


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The Free World Daily Digest

Before we end this article I thought we should point out that it was not only leaflets that were dropped by United Nations aircraft. The U.N. also prepared a number of newspapers that were dropped on enemy troops to keep them updated on the state of the war and the political situation around the world, and in particular the facts concerning the armistice talks. This newspaper that King found on the ground is a regular issue of the Free World Daily Digest produced by the First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group, Psychological Warfare Section, General Headquarters of the Far East Command. This was a weekly news sheet that contained text, cartoons and photographs and was aimed at North Korean soldiers and civilians. The above is issue 40 dated 30 November 1951 and coded 2061.

This issue discusses the armistice talks, gives the latest war news, talks about an anti-Communist rally against the People’s Republic of China and has a number of “special reports.”

As always, the author hopes that this article will shed some light on wartime psychological operations. Readers who wish to comment on any aspect of this story are encouraged to e-mail the author.