SGM HERBERT A. FRIEDMAN (Ret.)
Note: The historian for the 7th Air Force and the 8th Fighter Wing in Korea was granted permission to use text and/or images from this article in historical presentations on the Korean War and later history. Singapore has requested the use of images from our Korean War articles as part of their History O Level examinations, a source-based case study where students are provided with numerous sources on an issue and decide on the sources reliability. The theme is "Was American intervention in the Korean War necessary? Leaflets from this article were exhibited at the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum, Ashland, Nebraska; the images were in an interactive display titled The Air War over Korea. Leaflet images were in one open binder and text in an adjacent open binder. Visitors flipped between the two binders, selecting an image and the best text to go with it to build their own propaganda leaflet. An author writing the autobiography of Major General Charles A. Willoughby requested the use of reference material from this article. The University of Leicester requested material from this article for their study: Postwar Urban Reconstruction in China 1937 – 1958.
Kim Il Sung
Following Japans surrender in World War II, Korea was arbitrarily divided into zones of Soviet and American occupation, north and south of the 38th north parallel. By 1948, it was clear that reunification of the two countries was hopeless, in May 1948, the Republic of Korea (ROK) was created in the south, with Dr. Syngman Rhee as president, and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) was formed in the north. In April of 1948, President Harry S. Truman had stated, "The United States should not become so irrevocably involved in the Korean situation that an action taken by any faction in Korea, or by any other power in Korea could be considered a Casus belli (cause for war) for the United States." Kim Il Sung, the dictator of the DPRK, listened closely. He was finely attuned to the intricacies of political rhetoric, and interpreted the Presidents comment to mean that the United States would not become involved in any military action on the Korean peninsula. The U.S. withdrew its occupation forces in June 1949.
Possibly, because of this perceived "green light," 93,000 North Korean troops with approximately 100 Russian-made tanks attacked southward early on Sunday morning, 25 June 1950 in an attempt to force reunification. The forces of South Korea were almost pushed into the sea, and communist forces occupied the capital Seoul and much of South Korea.
Mark R. Jacobson mentions how the United States was taken completely by surprise in his PhD thesis, Minds then Hearts: U.S. Political and Psychological Warfare during the Korean War, 2005, Ohio State University:
The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff had just returned from a series of briefings at Far East Command in
where there had not been a hint of the possibility of a North Korean attack. By the time the armistice was signed three years later, The Korean War had resulted in major shifts in Tokyo Defense policy, including a tripling in the size of the armed forces and a doubling of the Pentagon budget. U.S.
Nicolas Eberstadt mentions the secrecy of the plan in The End of North Korea, AEI Press, Washington D.C. 1999:
In attempting to evaluate North Korean unification policy, the degree to which the plan was predicated on absolute secrecy (what the Soviets used to call Maskirovka) is an aspect that deserves special comment. The initial success of the attack hinged largely on the fact that it took Seoul and Washington almost completely by surprise - and it took them by surprise because Pyongyang expertly concealed both its capabilities and its intentions up until the moment of truth. Less than a week before the actual invasion, for example, the DPRK was floating diversionary proposals containing new ideas for possible steps towards peaceful and voluntary unification with the South. North Korea's top leadership also seems to have subjected its own administrative and military apparatuses to a corresponding measure of strategic deception as the invasion plan progressed. John Merrill notes:
Even secret Central Committee documents that were seized by United Nations forces when they captured Pyongyang made absolutely no mention of the forthcoming invasion. High ranking North Korean officers had only the barest presentiment of hostilities until the final orders were issued for the attack. So thorough and complete was the regime's devotion to strategic secrecy, in fact, that an accurate and substantive record of the proceedings leading up to the June 1950 offensive may simply not exist even in Pyongyang.
According to Shen Zhihua, the director of the Shanghai-based Center for Cold War International History Studies:
Kim Il-sung kept asking for Stalin and Mao Zedong's approval to use force to take South Korea. But at first both demurred as the Soviet Union didn't want to aggravate tensions with the U.S., and China was concentrating on its own reunification. But in late January 1950, Stalin suddenly changed his mind and agreed to Kim's plan to undertake military operations against South Korea. He also called Kim to Moscow for secret talks. In the April talks, Stalin gave final approval to Kim's plan to start the war. Stalin agreed to Kim's estimate that the U.S. would decline to or not have enough time to intervene in the war but emphasized that the Soviet Union will not help out in case of the U.S. intervention. Mao said that if the U.S. entered the war China would send its own armies to assist North Korea, and troops could be transferred to the China-Korea border right away.
It is hard to explain how totally the USA was caught by surprise. The American military had been so weakened after WWII that there were no highly trained units ready to take on the North Korean aggressors. The peninsula was held by a thread. The 2000 National Security booklet Signal Intelligence and the Pusan Perimeter says:
The North Koreans launched a massive offensive against South Korea on 25 June 1950. This devastating attack was led by 150 Soviet T-34 tanks, which the South Koreans had no weapon powerful enough to stop. In a matter of days, the Korean People’s Army had captured the South Korean capital, Seoul, and was continuing to push south in an apparent attempt to reunify the Korean peninsula under communist rule…General Douglas MacArthur, United States commander in chief in Asia, transferred units from the American army of occupation in Japan to Korea in early July. The arriving U.S. troops were out of shape, not well-equipped, poorly trained, and totally unfamiliar with the Korean terrain. As a result, the UN forces, consisting mostly of Americans and South Koreans, were terribly torn up by the North Korean attacks. Throughout July, the Korean People’s Army pushed the UN forces south, inflicting dreadful casualties in the process.
The CIA admitted major intelligence errors on their part in declassified reports entitled: Two Strategic Intelligence Mistakes in Korea, 1950. Six days before the invasion the CIA did not think the North had the power to defeat the South:
While North Korea could take control of parts of the South, it probably does not have the capability to destroy the South Korean government without Soviet or Chinese assistance
The CIA did not believe that China would enter the war:
While full-scale Chinese Communist intervention in Korea must be regarded as a continuing possibility, a consideration of all known factors leads to the conclusion that such action is not probable in 1950.
On 15 October, General Douglas MacArthur told President Harry Truman:
There is little chance of a large-scale Chinese intervention.
On the very next day, 30,000 Chinese troops poured across the Duman River followed by 150,000 more soldiers a few days later.
President Harry S. Truman determined to support the Republic of South Korea militarily and sought United Nations backing. An emergency session of the United Nations Security Council resolved to send troops to Korea. The USSR, having boycotted the session, was unable to veto this resolution. Had they been present, history would be rewritten. North Korean troops pushed the United Nations Forces into a small defensive perimeter at the tip of the Korean peninsula.
The American commander on the ground became General Walton Walker. In one of the finest pep talks ever given to a retreating force he told his American commanders on 29 July in what has become known as the Stand and Die order:
We are fighting a battle against time. There will be no more retreating, withdrawal, or readjustment of the lines or any other term you choose. There is no line behind us to which we can retreat. Every unit must counterattack to keep the enemy in a state of confusion. There will be no Dunkirk, there will be no Bataan; a retreat to Pusan would be one of the greatest butcheries in history. We must fight until the end. Capture by these people is worse than death itself. We will fight as a team. If some of us die, we will die fighting together. Any man who gives ground may be personally responsible for the death of thousands of his comrades. I want everybody to understand we are going to hold this line. We are going to win.
U.N. troops, largely from the U.S. and Japan and commanded by General Douglas MacArthur, landed at Inchon on 15 September and launched a counterattack. The operation involved some 75,000 troops and 261 naval vessels, and led to the recapture of the South Korean capital Seoul two weeks later. Initial success brought the U.N. troops to the Chinese border by late November 1950, but on 29 November, China entered the conflict and pushed the U.N. forces southward. Seoul fell again on 4 January 1951. Another U.N. counteroffensive in February and March drove the North Korean and Chinese troops back to the 38th parallel. Despite much bloody fighting, the battle lines remained stable for another two years. As the fighting moved up and down the peninsula, ravaging the land, there were an estimated three million casualties. Armistice talks began in July 1951 but repeatedly failed to reach agreement. A truce was signed on 27 July 1953 establishing a demilitarized zone along the 38th parallel and creating a framework for a permanent settlement of the war. Talks have continued fruitlessly ever since.
The Korean "police action" still confuses scholars today. Various leaders in Washington, the Pentagon, and the front lines were recommending actions as diverse as the simple defense of the South, the total destruction of North Korea, contaminating the Korean-Chinese border with radioactive fallout, and even the invasion of the Peoples Republic of China by the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek.
General Douglas MacArthur refused to concede that the Chinese had entered the war until it was almost too late to halt their advance. It was one of the greatest intelligence lapses in American military history. He was ultimately relieved of duty when President Truman felt that his orders were not being properly and promptly obeyed. The goals of the United Nations were so unclear that Lieutenant General James A. Van Fleet answered the question "How will we know when we have won the war?" with the answer, "I dont know, somebody higher up will have to tell me."
Even worse, early in the war the mention of
Chinaor the was forbidden in Allied leaflets because there was a fear that such comments might bring them deeper into the war. Later, they were not mentioned because it was feared that the knowledge that USSR Chinaand the were backing the North Korean armed forces might tend to demoralize South Korean civilians. Eventually they were mentioned in Leaflets, but opportunities had been missed. This problem with producing timely propaganda hampered the Allies all through the war. By the time the leaflets were approved at every level, the news was often old and stale. USSR
Corporal Raymond J. Krumenacker stands by at the drop door of an Air Force C-47 looking for concentrations of Chinese troops while members of the Psychological Warfare Section drop bundles of propaganda leaflets over Communist-held territory in Korea.
Propaganda was used extensively by both sides during the Korean conflict. Aircraft and artillery delivered United Nations leaflets. B-29 bombers dropped strategic propaganda deep behind the enemys rear lines. Front-line tactical propaganda was dropped by light bombers and spotter aircraft, or fired from 105mm howitzers. More than 20 million leaflets a week were prepared and disseminated by United Nations Forces at the height of the conflict. Curiously, there seems to be some evidence that the definition of Tactical leaflets during the early Korean War was simply within 40 miles of the front lines. If the target was more than 40 miles from the front line the leaflet became strategic.
To give an example of the daily leaflet war in Korea we quote the Periodic Intelligence Report of the U.S. X Corps.
Friendly: PSYWAR, G-2, General Headquarters Far Eastern Air Force Bomber Command dropped 2,680,000 leaflets along the line of contact on 27 November 1950. The type of leaflets and quantities dropped are as follows:
"Safe Conduct Pass" leaflets printed in Chinese. 620,000
"Good Treatment of PW" leaflets printed in Chinese. 720,000
"Safe Conduct Pass" leaflets printed in Korean. 620,000
"Good Treatment of PW" leaflets printed in Korean. 720,000
Enemy: Report of U.S. I Corps, 25 November 1950. Several enemy planes dropped three types of propaganda leaflets on the signal relay station 27 miles north of Pyongyang signed by the General Political Bureau, Korean People's Army. The contents of two of these leaflets written in English are as follows:
Leaflet 1. Officers and men of US armed forces surrender and you will not be killed. Prisoners of war are well treated. Lay down your arms and come over to us.
Leaflet 2. Officers and men US Army why are you going to die a meaningless death on an alien soil 10,000 miles away from your country? Your dear people at home are spending miserable days worrying about your fate. Why are you going to sacrifice your youthful life for an unjust cause leaving your dear people behind you? Lay down your arms immediately and surrender. The Korean Peoples Army treats prisoners of war well. The only way for you to get home soon is to surrender. Lose no time and come over to us.
General Van Fleet was named commander of the Eighth United States Army in Korea on 14 April 1951. He replaced General Matthew B. Ridgway who moved up to commander of all United Nations forces. Eight days later, on 22 April, Van Fleet was involved in the greatest battle of the war, the Chinese Fifth Offensive. Twenty-one Chinese and nine North Korean divisions attacked southward in human waves. This clash ultimately led to approximately 70,000 Communist casualties, and the capture of 10,000 troops. The enemy was in disarray after this battle, and their morale was low.
The Military Command Structure
General Van Fleet
Prior to the Korean conflict, General Douglas MacArthur had been Commander in Chief, Far East Command (CINC FECOM), headquartered in Tokyo. Following UN approval of the intervention, MacArthur assumed the additional role of Commander in Chief, United Nations Command (CINCUNC). On 11 April 1951, General MacArthur was relieved of his Korean command by President Harry Truman, following MacArthurs unauthorized and inflammatory policy statements. Lt. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway replaced MacArthur as U.N. commander. General Mark W. Clark assumed command from Ridgway on 12 May 1952, when Ridgway was appointed Commander of NATO.
President Truman relieves General MacArthur of his Command.
The brunt of the UN action was borne by the U.S. Eighth Army (EUSAK Eighth US Army in Korea). Commanding EUSAK at the beginning of the conflict was Lt. Gen. Walton H Walker. Ridgway succeeded him at EUSAK when Walker was killed in an automobile accident just before Christmas 1950. Lt. Gen. James A. Van Fleet replaced Ridgway when Ridgway became CINCUNC. Lt. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor followed Van Fleet.
We know quite a bit about the Psychological Warfare Division of EUSAK from various 1953 documents. For instance, we know that they had C-47 aircraft that could carry 160 leaflet bundles or 4,000 pounds and B-26 bombers that could carry six leaflet bombs or 1,800 pounds. The leaflets were mostly 5 x 8-inches in size and the newspapers were 8 x 10-inches. EUSAK flew leaflets from Airbase K-16 (
Seoul) to the United StatesI, IX, and X Corps, and to the and II Corps. Army Ordnance sent 10,000 leaflet artillery shells to EUSAK monthly. They were divided among the various corps with 500 held in reserve for emergency tactical use. One of the most interesting taboos was that no leaflet was ever to use the term Communist Guerillas on leaflets; they were only to use the term Bandits. Republicof Korea I
The State of American PSYOP
I mention several times in this article that the United States was totally unprepared at the start of the Korean War. Long after this article was published, Captain Jeremy S. Mushtare wrote his Naval Postgraduate school thesis entitled PSYOP in Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations: Preparing for Korean Reunification in 2005. He very succinctly mentions our unpreparedness and I thought I would partially quote him:
Despite the prevalence of psychological warfare in both World War I and World War II, such units no longer existed in the U.S. Army inventory at the outbreak of the Korean War. The importance of psychological warfare largely fell by the wayside and by the time the Korean War ignited in the summer of 1950, the U.S. Army was forced hastily to re-create and deploy PSYWAR units to fulfill the burgeoning needs in the Far East. Thus, the dismantling of the U.S. PSYWAR apparatuses and deemphasis on PSYWAR principles largely resulted in the delayed employment of untrained soldiers during the Korean War. These forces were mostly innocent of previously ascertained PSYWAR principles due to the depletion of critical institutional knowledge during the interim years of peace that occupied the late 1940s. Soldiers who possessed PSYWAR experience from World War II were not a part of the newly reinstituted units and the rapidity with which these forces were fielded did not allow for adequate training to occur prior to their deployment to East Asia. This greatly impeded PSYWAR progress in attaining a level in capability that was even commensurate with the PSYWAR units of World War II.
By the beginning of the Korean War on 25 June 1950, the Tactical Information Detachment of Aggressor Force at Fort Riley, Kansas was the only PSYWAR unit that remained in the entire United States Army that dealt with PSYWAR. Comprised of approximately twenty personnel, it focused mainly on simulating loudspeaker and leaflet operations against U.S. troops during training exercises.
While war plans that included psychological warfare particulars existed, and some missions were executed only days after the outbreak of the Korean War, PSYWAR forces continually lagged in their contributions to the overall war effort. Various personnel were scrounged within the theater, especially those possessing language capabilities, for bolstering PSYWAR operations. Despite these seemingly insurmountable challenges, remarkably the first leaflets disseminated by U.S. forces during the Korean War came less than twenty-four hours after President Truman authorized military intervention against the north, and the first broadcasts from Radio Japan began less than twenty-four hours after that. Both of these efforts, however, were conducted by the small staff in the Far East Theater and were in no way indicative of an actual capability to sustain a PSYWAR campaign.
By January 1951, the United States forces had disseminated over 160 million leaflets which targeted only four different target audiences. During the first five months, the thematic emphasis was on distributing safe conduct passes and surrender appeals. In December 1950, themes began to shift toward undermining enemy morale. By January 1951, the United States began to analyze the results from over six months of enemy prisoners of war interrogations to determine systemic evidence of the effects of psychological warfare products on the enemy. However, they still had not conducted key research on enemy target audiences and demographics. Thus, their inability to isolate specific target audiences forced message themes to be broad in nature in order to ensure as much applicability as possible.
On a wider and more national scene, Dr. Edward P. Lilly wrote a top secret 95-page report dated 19 December 1951 on the history of U.S. PSYOP from the end of WWII to the start of the Korean War titled: The Development of American Psychological Operations 1945-1951. It would seem to indicate that there was no specific policy and for about 6 years there was a constant fight between the State Department and multiple other agencies about who would be in charge of American psychological warfare. It seems amazing that the Americans were able to get anything done. Some of the reports comments are:
The Psychological Strategy Board was established by the Presidential directive of 4 April 1951. It studied WWI and found out that by the end of the war there was no attempt to remember the lessons of the war in regard to psychological warfare. The same thing happened after WWII. The OWI and OSS were disbanded quickly and few of their records were studied. By 1946 all trace of American PSYWAR was gone. The most qualified people had returned to their radio and newspaper careers and covert actions were abandoned. The American Congress was hostile to any psychological activities and as a result the Department of State was hampered. The Congress cut funds to all the information programs 50% between 1946 and 1948. As Russian propaganda became aggressively anti-American, the State Department hesitated to counter it with American propaganda lest Congress eliminate the entire information program.
The proposal for a permanent psychological warfare subcommittee to guide, coordinate, and execute the American psychological warfare effort under SNWCC (The State Department, War Department, Navy Department and Coordinating Committee) was approved on 30 April 1947. Although it changed its name to Special Studies and evaluations Committee, which was merely a cover name, this body presented the first postwar document on psychological warfare.
In 1948, Congress gave verbal and legislative support to the psychological effort. Most importantly Congress increased the appropriations for information work and promised more in succeeding years. It enacted the Smith-Mundt Act which for the first time gave a statutory basis for the State Departments information program.
In early 1949, The National Security Council staff proposed that there be immediately established a small organization in the State Department to plan and make preparations for the coordinated conduct of foreign and domestic information programs and overt psychological operations abroad in the event of war or threat of war as determined by the President. In late 1949 the Voice of America underwent a slow change. A Russian specialist became its director. Programs in Russian increased to around-the-clock. The tone of the broadcasts was becoming more aggressive.
One of the major problems was that the State Department had complete control of all psychological warfare programs regardless of the situation while the military, Joint Chiefs of Staff and CIA believed that in a time of warfare it should be controlled by the latter agencies. In December 1949, a Joint subsidiary plans Division was formally approved. It was under the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It would supervise the military services logistic planning for PSYWAR. Meanwhile, the Navy had one officer assigned to PSYWAR. The Air Force had a PSYWAR Section in its Planning Division. The Army had an awareness of the need for PSYWAR but did little before Korea. There was a belief that this was a subject that the State Department should be responsible for and the military should only be involved in a time of war.
In late June 1950, North Korea attacked the south. This state of war or Police Action allowed the military to finally start to take control of PSYWAR as had always been argued but never made policy. We might say that the invasion by North Korea was the basis for all future military psychological operations until the present.
The United States Information Service was operating in South Korea in June 1950. A psychological warfare planning nucleus had existed in the Intelligence Division of the Headquarters of the Far Eastern Command since 1949. The State Department was aware that in case of war, PSYWAR was supposed to come under the Theater Commander. There was an debate about the authority of the State Department over the Theater Commander. The Theater Commander claimed that his Psychological Warfare Division should determine the plans, and State disagreed. In August 1950, the State Department established a National Psychological Strategy Board to develop plans and guidance for Americas information program. The State Department insisted that it should be in charge of the planning. Meanwhile, the CIA wanted clearer directives for its covert actions.
In the fall of 1950, the battle between State and the Military, Defense and CIA went on until the President, tired of the bickering between the various sides formed an independent psychological strategy board in April, 1951. It was made up of all the agencies and answered to the President.
The MacArthur Legend
Some of the early Korean War leaflets depicted General MacArthur in an attempt to boost the morale of the South Koreans and assure them that an almost infallible and undefeatable military leader was coming to their defense.
Leaflet 1004 depicted a heroic image of General MacArthur and promises good treatment to any captured or surrendering North Korean troops. The text under the photograph is:
Listen each day at 2100 Korean time over 950 kilocycles to truthful news broadcasts from General MacArthurs headquarters.
The back is all text and says in part:
Personnel of the Armed Forces of North Korea and other persons of North Korea who are taken into custody or fall into the hands of armed forces now under my operational control in connection with hostilities in Korea will be treated in accordance with the humanitarian principals applied by and recognized by civilized nations involved in armed conflict
Leaflet 1002 depicts General MacArthur on one side and President Harry Truman on the other. Some of the MacArthur text is:
All patriotic Koreans will take heart at the news that general MacArthur himself has flown to Korea to give his personal supervision to this international aid His vast knowledge of the far East, as well as his world famed military genius, will be of tremendous value in the struggle to defend Korean independence and freedom.
This leaflet first attracted my attention because the back shows a flight of USAF F-180 shooting stars. When I looked at the front I found the portraits of a group of allied military leaders and a message meant to booster the morale of the Korean people. There are photographs of Generals MacArthur, Almond,
, Wright, and Whitney. Some of the text is: Willoughby
FREE WORLD AIDS
Under the brilliant and battle-tested leadership of General Douglas MacArthur, powerful aid is on the way from friendly democratic nations around the world. Britain, Australia, New Zealand, India, the Netherlands, Belgium, and
have pledged their support. China
The leaflet goes on to mention MacArthur three times in three short paragraphs. I should also point out that the mention of
China helping South Koreaactually indicates Formosa or as we now call it, . Taiwan
General MacArthur appears on or is quoted in many other early Korean War leaflets.For instance, leaflet 1017 is in the form of an official letter dated 20 August 1950 on the stationery of the United Nations Command General Headquarters to the Commander of North Korean forces. The enemy commander is told that U.N. forces will treat North Korean prisoners according to the laws of war and it is expected that the North Koreans will treat the U.N. prisoners the same way. It states that there have been reports of U.N. prisoners murdered and if this continues the North Korean commander and his officers will be held personally responsible. The letter is written in English on one side and Korean on the other. The letter is signed simply Douglas MacArthur.
This leaflet is in the form of a letter from General MacArthur to the Premier of North Korea explaining the legality of the American response to the North Korea invasion. It says in part:
This is to inform you of the action taken by the United Nations General Assembly on 8 October 1950 I as the United Nations Commander-in-Chief, for the last time, call upon you and the forces under your command, in whatever part of Korea situated, forthwith, to lay down your arms and cease hostilities .
U.S. PSYOP from World War II to the Korean War
At the end of World War II, operational military PSYOP units were disbanded, and official U.S. PSYOP activities were left as the responsibility of the CIAs Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). Although the military did not relish involvement in PSYOP, some Army personnel were seconded to the CIA, and a very limited PSYOP capability was retained within the military in the form of the very small Tactical Information Department at Fort Riley, Kansas. Prior to the Korean War, the Army had no real PSYOP plans, no doctrine, and almost no trained personnel.
Following the North Korean invasion of the South in 1950, President Truman created the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) to handle national PSYOP policy. In June 1951, after a year of the Korean War, the United States Army established a special staff agency, the Office of the Chief of Psychological Warfare (OCPW), headed by Brigadier General Robert A. McClure, to supervise its psychological warfare operations. In World War II, McClure had been head of the Psychological Warfare Branch of the Allied Forces Headquarters in North Africa and then the Psychological Warfare Division of SHAEF in London under Eisenhowe r. In April 1952, McClure established the Psychological Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, which has become the Armys principal training ground for PSYOP personnel. However, during the Korean War, control of PSYOP operations evolved continually and with various lines of responsibility as the Army adopted ad hoc tactics to cope with its lack of preparedness.
General MacArthurs PSYOP Organization
Meanwhile, in a farsighted decision in 1947, General MacArthur had activated a small Psychological Warfare Branch (PWB) in the G-2 division of General Headquarters, Far East Command (GHQ FECOM) in Tokyo. Major General Charles Willoughby, MacArthurs G-2 (intelligence), appointed a civilian and retired army colonel, J. Woodall Greene, to head the PWB. (During World War II, Willoughby, then a colonel, had been in charge of MacArthurs G-2.) Greene was active in psychological warfare in the pacific during WWII. Other members of the group included Colonel C.S. Myers who had eight years experience in PSYWAR in the Southwest Pacific and Lieutenant Colonel F.C. Dahlquist who had directed one of the Sino-American peace teams under General Marshall. In 1950 when Truman announced his decision to send U.S. troops to Korea under U.N. command, MacArthurs people were ready. Within a day, the six-person PWB had designed, printed, and airdropped the first propaganda leaflets over the enemy. The unit had grown to 35 persons by the end of December, and by summer 1951, PWB had grown to 55 people (mostly civilians, with some military personnel on temporary loan from other organizations) and was renamed the Psychological Warfare Section (PWS) and eventually placed under G-3 (operations) Far East Command. Throughout the war, the PWS retained a dominant strategic role in white PSYOP, and served as coordinator of all United Nations PSYOP activities.
An Air Force printer operates a printing press at the Far East Command Printing and
Decades after I wrote this article, Jay Caldwell wrote to say that the unidentified printer at the Far East Command Printing and Publications Center was his father, Airman Second Class Glenn W. Caldwell, 581st Air Resupply and Communications Wing, United States Air Force. The 581st did drop millions of propaganda leaflets on the enemy during the Korean War.
A Psychological Warfare Section was formed in the Eighth Army under Lieutenant-Colonel Hatsel L. Harris. After X Corps became operational, it also formed a Psychological Warfare Section with Major Thomas P. Ewing commanding. The Far East Command Printing and
commanded by Colonel O. B. Powers printed hundreds of millions of tactical and strategic leaflets on extremely short notice. Publications Center
A very condensed look at the Allied PSYOP order of battle is:
1. The Far East Command controlled tactical PSYOP operations in the first three months of the war because there was no other trained organization able to do the job. On 16 July 1950, a tactical PSYOP detachment of five specialists from the Far East Command HQ were assigned to the Eighth U.S. Army Korea as a PSYOP team. At first PSYOP was the responsibility of the G2 section (Intelligence). On 24 January 1951, PSYOP was transferred to G3 (Operations). This was called the G3 Psychological Warfare Division. One document states that G3 produced 711 different leaflets, though the total number is not listed and could total well into the millions. The unit had the ability to print millions of copies of each leaflet daily.
2. The 1st Leaflet and Loudspeaker Company deployed to Korea in the spring of 1951 and provided combat or tactical PSYOP support to EUSAK and its subordinate fighting organizations. Army records show that the Company printed 280,663,500 leaflets while in Korea.
Reports from other sources state that the United Nations dropped a total of 2.5 billion leaflets during the Korean War. Of these, there were 1,200 separate messages.
Daniel A. Castro adds in his 2007 Naval Postgraduate School thesis: Do Psychological Operations Benefit from the use of Host Nation Media:
By April of 1952, three organizations were conducting PSYOP operations in the battle for Korea. Strategic PSYOP was conducted by the Psychological Warfare Section, GHQ, FECOM, in Tokyo.
The Psychological Warfare Division, G-3, Eighth Army, eventually located in Seoul, conducted operational and tactical PSYOP with the help of 139 military, civilian and indigenous personnel (which included 10 professional Chinese and Korean translators and interviewers).
Consolidation activities (dissemination of war and morale news in an attempt to bring peace by convincing the populace to support their government) were conducted by the State Departments U.S. Information Service, based in Pusan. These PSYOP efforts utilized host nation personnel and assets, and were starting to have success against the North Koreans and Chinese. This is evidenced by increasing percentages of enemy POWs responding to PSYOP messages.
Far East Command Printing Plant
During the Korean War the Far East Command had an Adjutant General Administrative Center and Class B Field Printing Plant in Kawasaki city.
A document dated 14 July 1955 discusses the Webendorfer 3-color roll fed press and states that the table of Organization (TO&E) requires that the press be able to print 60 million leaflets a month, or two million each day. The press could produce propaganda products in 10.5 x 16-inches, 8 x 10.5-inches, 5.25 x 8-inches and 4 x 5.25-inches.The presses could be fed by paper rolls or sheets. They could print in one or three colors. The numbers of product printed using the various systems differ, so we list some of the totals here for the reader.
In regard to an individual press, using the paper roll they could print 80,000 three-color leaflets per hour. The daily production of an eight-hour shift was 640,000 leaflets. Using two shifts a day the daily production was about 1,280,000 three-color leaflets. Using two presses with double shifts the plant could produce 2,400,000 leaflets a day.
A printer loads leaflets into a box for dissemination
Using the sheet-fed method they could print 36,000 one-color leaflets per hour. The daily production of an eight-hour shift was 288,000 leaflets. Using two shifts a day the daily production was about 576,000 one-color leaflets or 192,000 three-color leaflets. Using two presses with double shifts the plant could produce 384,000 three-color leaflets a day.
Starting about the Vietnam War, mathematical calculations and formulae proved that the 3 x 6-inch leaflet was the most accurate for air-dropping on a specific target. During the Korean War, the three-color 5.25 x 8-inch leaflet was used most extensively and considered the standard. The daily production of this sized leaflet using paper rolls with two presses and two shifts (16 hours) was 2,400,000 leaflets. Using sheet fed paper the total dropped to 384,000 leaflets. One can see that a lot of production was lost in carrying sheets of paper to and from the presses.
Looking at the military staff assigned to the Offset Pressroom we note that the ranking soldier was the Offset Supervisor who was a Master Sergeant. The Offset Foremen were led by a Sergeant First Class. The actual pressmen were Corporals and Privates First Class. Besides the military staff, we note that the majority of the people working in the Offset Section were Japanese nationals.
To give an example of how unprepared the Eighth Army was to prepare propaganda, Major Albert C. Brauer, who served in the Eighth U.S. Army Korea as Chief of the Projects Branch, Psychological Warfare Division, G3 Section (February 1951 to January 1952) was an infantry officer. He prepared a paper for Georgetown University in 1953 entitled Psychological Warfare Korea 1951. He said in regard to the early days of his unit:
Shortly after General Matthew B. Ridgway assumed command of the Eighth United States Army in Korea, December 1950, an increased emphasis on Psychological Warfare was ordered. At that time ten officers and myself were assigned to the Army's reorganized Psychological Warfare Division. With the exception of one officer none of us had had any previous psychological warfare experience. During initial operations, aid was given to us by Mr. Charles Dauthey from the Operation Research Office who had gained some psychological warfare experience against the Japanese in WWII. A member of the Chinese Nationalist Embassy staff was also placed on thirty days temporary duty with the Division. About this time, we were also favored with a three-day visit from Doctor Paul M. A. Linebarger. Dr. Linebarger inspired us all in the possibilities of psychological warfare and gave us many valuable suggestions. Upon his departure he presented us a copy of his book, "Psychological Warfare."
Following his assignment as commander of the U.N. forces in Korea, MacArthur also established a top-secret Joint Services Operation (JSO) to combine U.S., Japanese, and Korean intelligence and counterintelligence activities. This unit was organized and headed by Willoughby. Executive responsibility lay with Major General Holmes E. Dager. The JSO unit probably functioned as a secret group reporting directly to MacArthur, affording MacArthur some personal financial and operational control over PSYOP activities. JSO was assigned a role in psychological warfare and leaflet production, although few details are known.
It is worth noting here that in what must have been an amazing show of complete faith and trust, Korean President Syngman Rhee turned over command of his entire Armed Forces on 14 July 1950 to General MacArthur:
In view of the common military effort of the United Nations on behalf of the Republic of Korea, in which all military forces, land, sea and air, of all the United Nations fighting in or near Korea have been placed under your operational command, and in which you have been designated Supreme Commander United Nations Forces, I am happy to assign to you command authority over all land, sea, and air forces of the Republic of Korea during the period of the continuation of the present state of hostilities, such command to be exercised either by you personally or by such military commander or commanders to whom you may delegate the exercise of this authority within Korea or in adjacent seas.
Basic white information, including war and morale news, was the province of the State Departments US Information Service, particularly its USIS Korea group. (In August 1953, the Smith-Mundt Act created the US Information Agency (USIA), which then took over USIS as USIAs overseas agency.)
By April 1952, three organizations were conducting white PSYOP operations for Korea. Strategic operations were conducted by the Psychological Warfare Section, GHQ, FECOM, operating from Tokyo. The Psychological Warfare Division, G-3, HQ, Eighth Army, eventually located in Seoul conducted tactical operations. Consolidation activities (dissemination of war and morale news in an attempt to bring peace by convincing the civilian population to support their government) were conducted by the State Departments US Information Service, based in Pusan.
Perhaps one of the most important reference documents in regard to Allied PSYOP in Korea is the declassified secret technical memorandum, US Psywar Operations in the Korean War, written by George S. Pettee under the auspices of the Operations Research Office (ORO) of the Johns Hopkins University. Only 200 copies were printed of the working paper which attempted to assess the past operations and effectiveness of
psychological warfare and possible means for gaining an increased effect. This is an early paper, dated 23 January 1951, so the data covers only the very 205 days of the war that started on 27 June 1950 and would continue until 27 July 1953. Some of the information will be repetitious, and that is because conclusions made at this early stage of the war will be made again later in the Police Action. US
Pettee gives a background to operations. He says that at the start of the war,
USPSYOP in the Far East consisted of seven persons working in the Special Projects Branch of Civil Intelligence, G2, General Headquarters, Far EastCommand. Three days after the start of the war this small group prepared and dropped several million leaflets on . By 31 October the group consisted of 25 personnel. By 11 January 1951 it had 55 members. Korea
An Early Korean War PSYOP Leaflet
Within twenty-four hours after President Harry S. Truman announced
U.S.troops would assist the invaded Republicof South Korea; leaflets were dropped over telling of the decision. Buck Sergeant Rocco Trapani of the USAF deployed to Korea Korea2 July 1950 from . Upon landing he found the above uncoded leaflet on the ground. Although the leaflet bore no code, we now know that it was leaflet 1001. It appears to be among the earliest of U.N. Propaganda leaflets. The leaflet shows the Japan seal on front and back, and the same message in English on one side and Korean on the other: US
THE UNITED NATIONS has appealed to American forces in
to assist the peace-loving citizens of the Japan in your struggle against the unprovoked aggression from the north. we shall give you every support. Be steadfast, be calm, be courageous, resist firmly. together we shall drive the aggressor from your territory. of republic korea
Leaflets being handed to the pilot for air drop
Some of Pettees more interesting comments are:
There really was no psywar readiness in the Far East Theatre before 25 June 1950. In the first seven months of the war the leaflet product was about 160,000,000 copies with 105 different kinds of leaflets. Ninety percent of the leaflets were delivered by aircraft, ten percent by the artillery of the 1st Marine Division and the 7th Infantry Division. The leaflets were addressed to four different audiences; enemy troops, enemy civilians, ROK troops and ROK civilians. Pettee recommends that the
should distribute at least 50 million leaflets a month. At least twenty different tactical leaflets should be prepared each month and loudspeakers should be used at a rate of at least 100 missions per week. US
Only two trailer-mounted loudspeakers and two air-borne loudspeakers were available, and they have been hampered by a lack of spare parts. Printing presses should be provided to each Corps, and if possible, to each division.
The provision of trained, experienced and competent psywar personnel from the
has been far from adequate. The military should establish a roster of qualified psywar personnel. [Note: Similar reports from the Vietnam War about 17 years later make the very same complaint about the lack of trained personnel]. United States
The production of leaflets has been adequate for strategic purposes only. The production of tactical psywar materials in
has been very small, either for leaflet or for loudspeaker activities. [Note: Strategic psychological operations advance broad or long-term objectives. Global in nature, they may be directed toward large audiences or at key communicators. Tactical psychological operations are more limited, used by commanders to secure immediate and near-term goals. In this environment, these force-enhancing activities serve as a means to lower the morale and efficiency of enemy forces.]. Korea
The dissemination of leaflets has been largely by B-29 bombers based at
. The aircraft and the leaflet bomb are not satisfactory, but they were all that was available. The B-29 can load 32 M-16-A bombs, each containing about 22,500 leaflets. [Note: The bomb was known as the M16-A1 cluster Adapter of WWII origin. It held 45,000 four-by-five-inch leaflets or 22,500 five-by-eight-inch leaflets. The bomb carried a time delay separation charge. After release at 15,000 to 25,000 feet, the bomb halves separated at 1,000 to 2,000 feet to concentrate the leaflets over a specific target area.]. Pettee says that a more effective alternative should be studied and states that some leaflets have been dropped by the Air Force T-6 Texan, Marine F4U Corsair and C-47 Skytrain loudspeaker aircraft. Yokota, Japan
The enemy psywar operation differs from the American in many respects, and is far more elaborate and intensive in the aggregate. The enemy has attempted, with his resources, to copy our methods of production and dissemination, He has done so only on a small scale however, and has in general relied upon other methods, especially agitation and internal propaganda, for which his resources are ample and highly developed. Enemy psywar uses posters and other media in great variety and with high skill in areas under enemy control.
On 28 June, just 24 hours after President Trumans announcement that the United States would oppose aggression in Korea, Far East Command had written, translated, printed and dropped over 12,000,000 leaflets over South Korea During the first thirty days of the war, Far East Command dropped almost 30 million copies of about nine different leaflets over Korea. By 1951, Far East Command had dropped over 160 million leaflets of over 100 different types By the end of the war about 2.5 billion leaflets had been distributed by air, artillery, and even by hand As one historian has put it, the Korean War represented a peak of U.S. leaflet psywar in terms of artwork and originality.
The structure of clandestine psychological warfare activities in Korea is complex and confusing. The State Department, the CIA, the army, the air force, and the navy wanted control of PSYOP activities, but only the CIA wanted anything to do with black propaganda. Turf battles resulted in bewildering and changing organizational structures. Here we touch only on points of relevance to propaganda leaflet production.
So, how many propaganda leaflets were printed by U.N. forces during the Korean War? According the Headquarters, U.S. Army Forces Far East, the total number of leaflets disseminated were 2,460,084,000. Yes, that is two billion. This information was listed in: HQ, USAFFE, SUBJECT: Psychological Warfare Activities, 28 June 1950 through 27 July 1953. In the Report on the Psychological Warfare Conducted By the Eighth Army Units in Korea, 25 June 1950 thru 27 July 1953, Air Operations state that they dropped 1, 411,255,700 leaflets so the rest were probably fired by artillery or disseminated by patrols.
USAF Korean War Pro-PSYOP Booklet
Government authorized comic books that were really a form of internal propaganda. For instance, in 1951 the U.S. United StatesGovernment Printing Office and the Air Force Psychological Warfare Division produced a 5-page booklet entitled Bullets or Words. It was written by Herb Block and drawn by Milton Caniff, best known for his U.S. cartoons. The comic discussed the history of psychological operations, the war in Steve Canyon Koreaand ended with a recruitment advertisement for Syke-Air, which the booklet explains is the Air Force word for Air Psychological Warfare Activities. U.S.
Colonel Robert L. Gleason implies that the USAF was not ready for the PSYOP war in Psychological Operations and Air Power: Its Hits and Misses, Air University Review, March-April 1971:
Although about half a billion leaflets were dropped during the Korean War, postwar surveys indicated that more than one-third of the bundles or leaflet bombs failed to open. Another revealing
statistic is that out of 220 different leaflets examined in one postwar analysis, only 22 alluded to or contained themes on air operations or bombardment.This was a far cry from the Korea psywar campaigns of World War II. Japan
In February 1951 the Air Force, becoming painfully aware of its weakness in PSYOP and unconventional warfare, took a giant step in the right direction. It formed three aerial resupply and communications (ARC) wings. These units were equipped with aircraft that included long-range B-29 and SA-16 amphibians. Although their primary mission was the logistical support of friendly guerrilla units, their almost equally important secondary mission was PSYOP.Concurrently, the Air Force initiated a comprehensive program with
for training officers in psychological operations. This university instruction was followed by a training period with either the Voice of Georgetown University or an Army psychological warfare unit. Specialization training was also given ARC wing personnel at a psywar and intelligence school at America . Mountain Home AFB, Idaho
Some of the USAF units involved in Korean War psychological operations are mentioned in John Martin Campbell's book, Slinging the Bull in
He discusses the Air Force's three psychological operation units, the 580, 581 and 582 Air Resupply and Communication Service (ARCS) Wings. He tells us that "Pilots, mechanics and psychological warfare officers were rotated into the war zones in small groups to receive 'on the job' training under the command of the Eighth Army or Fifth Air Force." Each Wing consisted of an Air Resupply Squadron, a Holding and Briefing Squadron, a Maintenance Squadron, an Air Materials Assembly Squadron, a Communications Squadron and a Reproduction Squadron. The aircraft utilized were twelve B-29s carrying thirty-two 175-pound leaflets bombs containing a million and a half 4 x 5-inch leaflets or 225-pound bombs which could carry 30,000 5.5 x 8.5-inch leaflets each. Other aircraft organic to the wing were four C-119 heavy transports, four SA-16 amphibians, and four H-19A helicopters.
Michael E. Haas also mentions the ARCS wings in Apollo's Warriors: United States Air Force Special Operations During the Cold War.
Like the WWII Air commandoes in the CBI, the 581st was a composite wing with different types of aircraft An ARC was the only USAF organization built from the ground up for psychological warfare The Reproduction Squadron produced covert propaganda material and overt Propaganda leaflets. The squadron was expected to produce up to 4 million 2-color 5 x 7-inch leaflets per day.
The 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet (RB&L) Group - "The Ganders"
The recruitment of staff for the first PSYOP Group to be deployed to Korea is mentioned in a reunion book entitled Psychological Warfare in Korea - 1952 Life and Times of the First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group - 50 years Later, Klein, Herguth and McConaughey, RHP Books, 2002:
"The Army, to find enlisted men for jobs that required a university degree, set up a special classification and assignment unit at Ft. Myer, in Arlington, Virginia. Towards the end of 1950, orders went out to send all draftees with college degrees to Ft. Myer after they finished basic training to be interviewed for possible special assignments. It was through this process that draftees with experience in journalism, radio, advertising and graphic arts found themselves in the 1st RB&L Group."
The unit was formed in Ft. Riley Kansas. It was created by Fifth Army General Order #176, April 1951. The first commander was LTC Homer E. Shields, former Chief of Psywar section of the Sixth Army Group, and later executive officer to General McClure, head of the Psychological Warfare Division, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). General McClure personally selected Shields for this post.
The Group arrived in Tokyo, Japan, on 6 August 1951. They were headquartered on the 6th floor of Empire House. The enlisted personnel were quartered in the Japanese government Finance Building on B Avenue in the heart of Tokyo. The Officers were billeted in Officer's Clubs around Tokyo.
The group consisted of three companies. Paul Linebarger discusses them in Psychological Warfare, Combat Forces Press, Washington DC, 1954. He says, "The Headquarters and Headquarters Company contained the command, administrative, supervisory and creative personnel necessary for propaganda operations. The 3rd Reproduction Company contained intricate equipment and skilled personnel capable of producing leaflets and newspapers of varying sizes and multiple color. The 4th Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company was designed to replace or augment other means of broadcasting radio propaganda."
The Radio Company had three platoons, each with a complete mobile transmitter that could be attached to more powerful theater elements. In 1953, a Consolidation Company was added to the group when it became clear that there was a need to prepare propaganda specifically aimed at civilians in the rear or in occupied areas under Allied control.
Stephen E Pease says in PSYWAR - Psychological Warfare in Korea 1950-1953, Stackpole Books, Harrisburg PA, 1992,
Its job was to support long-term objectives aimed at both the South and North Korean populaces as well as the Communist Chinese forces and North Korean People's Army.
Charles H. Briscoe writes about the Group in Veritas, Volume 7, No. 1, 2011. He says that the Headquarters Company was based in Tokyo, Japan, with the strength of 19 officers, three warrant officers and 111 enlisted personnel.
The Third Reproduction Company was based in Motosumiyoshi, Japan. Its strength was three officers and 54 enlisted personnel. They were tasked with leaflet production and were authorized cameras, lithographic plates, printing presses and the use of USAF aircraft to include C-47, C-46, B-26 and B-29.
The Fourth Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company was based in Tokyo, Pusan and Seoul. It consisted of 16 officers and 99 enlisted personnel. It was authorized various mobile radio broadcasting systems to transmit Psywar messages in the field in a variety of languages and dialects.
South Korean soldier reads script while recording a broadcast
An Operations research Office report entitled Technical Memorandum Strategic Radio Psywar in FEC by Murray Dyer discusses the Allied propaganda radio in the early stages of the war up until January 1951.
Dyer tells of Major Tom O. Mathews being ordered to produce 30 minutes of radio propaganda against
on 29 June 1950. The Major had no staff, no transmitters, no translators and no news facilities. He was a can do officer and at 2100 that evening he broadcast his first program to North Korea Koreafrom a small studio in Radio . He was soon broadcasting around the clock from Tokyo . He hired Koreans living in Tokyo as writers and translators. He then found a number of Korean radio technicians who had come under the control of Allied forces on the peninsula. His staff rose to eleven native-borne Koreans. Within a few days of North Korean invasion Mathews had 19 medium and shortwave transmitters of the Japan Broadcasting Corporation sending programs to Tokyo . It was later learned that many North Koreans found ways of listening to the forbidden broadcasts. Korea
Translators working on leaflets and scripts at the Seoul radio station
Once Seoul was retaken by U.N. Forces, Mathews augmented the station in the capitol city with a 50-kilowatt medium transmitter and a 10 kilowatt short wave transmitter under the command of the General Headquarters. His translators worked on both leaflet and radio texts and were on the air about six hours a day. The Psychological Warfare Branch installed a 500-kilowatt short wave station to serve
When the station first went on the air the target was the South Korean civilian population. As the United Nations gained ground, propaganda against North Korea was produced. Later, the programs were combined and the target became
as a whole. The major theme in the early days was the United Nations determination and ultimate victory. The radio broadcasters were lacking target intelligence. Some of the questions the News people asked are: Korea
What folk songs are known and sung in
What articles of food do they relish?
What are the winter activities?
What are the summer activities?
What superstitions still hold sway?
It is clear that in the early days the radio personnel did not get the support they needed to produce the kind of texts that might influence a target audience.
A U.S. Army PSYOP Mobile Radio Station during the Korean War
Daniel A. Castro adds:
Throughout the war, many of the millions of PSYOP leaflets that were being dropped on the enemy soon began to be augmented with limited radio broadcasts that utilized Koreans in the PSYOP effort. The first radio station was set up in the destroyed American embassy in Seoul on October 4, 1950. This station began its broadcasts with General Douglas MacArthur's demand that Kim Il-Sung, the chief of the North Korean troops, surrender. As battle lines changed and the Korean War progressed, the station broadcast from mobile trucks and had many names such as: Radio Kilroy, Radio Vagabond, Radio Comet, and Radio Mercury. Such radio stations, albeit possessing a small daily broadcast cycle compared to the Soviets and the Chinese, along with the hundreds of millions of leaflets dropped began to have moderate success with getting North Koreans and Chinese to surrender.
Speaking of radio, in a letter dated 27 January 1951, Colonel C. S. Myers, Military Intelligence Section, Headquarters, Far East Command reported to the Chief, Psychological Warfare Special Staff, U.S. Army, the summary of psychological warfare operations from 17 through 23 January 1951.
Radio Pusan continued to broadcast psychological warfare programs eight and one-quarter hours daily. Seven days a week the daily schedule includes 45 minutes of programs relayed from Radio Tokyo. Radio Tokyo continued to broadcast psychological warfare programs for two and three-quarter hours daily.
One C-47 aircraft with loudspeaker was employed on 21 January in two missions over North Korean troops. One mission covered the North Korean Army V Corps units in a 60 square mile area north of Wonju and was made in conjunction with the dissemination of leaflet serial # 8011. The second mission covered three areas north of Andong with instructions concerning a safe route to be used in surrendering. In conjunction with this mission, safe-conduct passes were disseminated.
One loudspeaker section of the leaflet and loudspeaker company has been assigned to IX Corps. Tests have been made with a loudspeaker mounted on a M-24 Tank. It was determined that a speaker which operates satisfactorily from generating equipment functional to the tank can be welded in place within 3 hours.
At the same time, the Chinese were broadcasting to the Korean people one hour a day and the Russians three and one-half hours a day on as many as 13 frequencies.
When the Chinese first attacked southward in October 1950, the UN forbid broadcasting to them because it had not declared war on the Chinese. However, themes to the Korean people included Chinese aims in
, Chinese rejection of ceasefire proposals, the claim that Chinese troops were volunteers, and Chinese looting and imperialism. By the end of 1950 there were plans for broadcasting to the Chinese for eight hours a day from 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Korea
When the 1st RB&L Group arrived in Japan in the summer of 1951, it assumed control over all strategic PSYWAR operations in Korea, although the PSYWAR section continued to provide overall direction. The Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company was a direct descendant of the mobile radio companies of World War II and used some of the same equipment. "
Paul M. A. Linebarger says in Psychological Warfare, Infantry Journal Press, Washington D.C., 1948:
Radio in the Korean conflict was used jointly as a strategic and a consolidation medium. From the beginning of the war, radio was the voice of our military policy. An ambitious network, supervised in 1950-51 directly by PWS and thereafter by the 1st RB&L Group, became known and recognized as the Voice of the United Nations Command. The Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) and the Japan Broadcasting System (JBS) transmitted on a cooperative basis, with the U.S. Government buying air time. The 1st RB&L Group's radio unit furnished programming assistance through key stations in Seoul (KBS), Taegu (KBS), Pusan (KBS) and Tokyo (JBS). In addition, the Group furnished technical assistance to KBS in order to keep as many as twelve network stations on the air.
Alfred H. Paddock Jr., lists the duties in greater detail in U.S. Army Special Warfare, University Press of Kansas, 2002:
The 1st RB&L Group was specifically designed to conduct strategic propaganda in direct support of military operations. Directed at enemy forces, populations, or enemy-occupied areas, strategic propaganda was intended to further long-term aims. The Group supervised a radio station network known as the Voice of the United Nations and often produced more than 200 million leaflets a week disseminated by aircraft or by specially designed artillery shells.
General Walker and MacArthur discuss strategy
We mention radio a lot but there was also the devious side of radio as both sides listened to each other’s radio traffic and tried to break their codes. North Korea was not high on the list of American priorities so there were almost no Americans listening to their radio traffic. No Americans were interested until 1949. On 21 April 1950, one intercept site was authorized in Japan to listen to their radio. In June, a second site was authorized and when the war started, they had collected 200 messages. There were two North Korean networks being followed, one military and one police. Within two weeks after the war started there were 12 intercept sites. The Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA) began receiving the Korean radio intercepts within an hour of it being broadcast. By 14 July, the first decrypts were delivered to military leaders. By the time that the Americans were desperately trying to hold the Pusan perimeter against the North Koreans, they were getting regular reports on the expected attacks, the morale and ammunition situation of their enemy forces, and their expected movement. This helped General Walton H. Walker hold the perimeter until the tide turned with General MacArthur’s successful landings behind enemy lines at Inchon.
A Korean Worker loads a Leaflet Artillery Shell for his American Allies
Early in the Korean War the military did not have a dedicated artillery leaflet shell. The 105 mm howitzer smoke shell and the British 25 pounder smoke shell were most suitable to convert to leaflet shells. With the smoke canister removed each shell could hold about 400 4 x 5-inch leaflets. Artillery can disseminate leaflets with great accuracy and is unaffected by weather conditions. They are best used immediately after an artillery bombardment, preferably at dawn or dusk when the enemy can pick up the leaflets without being seen. During the Korean War artillery was the most accurate means of delivery. Between June 1950 and July 1953 the Eighth
Army delivered over 100 million leaflets by artillery, with over 15,000 shells a month being fired at the enemy during peak periods. U.S.
A Four-Color Experiment by the 3rd Reproduction Company
U.S. Army Private Charles R. Gaush was a photo-lithographer assigned to the 3rd Reproduction Company, 8239th Army Unit, 1st Radio Broadcasting & Leaflet Group. He was deployed to Japan in early 1953. He told me about a very difficult printing job his unit did producing a four-color leaflet for Korea. He said:
We did a 5.5 x 8.5-inch job which included a four-color printing from a painting done at HQ in Tokyo. The Harris LTV is a single-color press, so if you want two or more colors, you have to run the sheets as many times as you have colors. My point is that our unit was not equipped to do four-color halftones both because of the difficult photolithography and the printing. However, we had a very smart Section Chief named Master Sergeant William E Stewart and he was anxious to try running it through four times in perfect alignment. We did it and the leaflet turned out perfect and was disseminated. Another problem we had with printing multicolored leaflets was due to the rapid humidity changes which varied the size of the sheets between colors. It was very difficult to keep the image in register. Sometimes it would be a week or so before the pressmen could get to the next color. We managed to turn those leaflets out because of our dedicated men and leaders.
The Printing of leaflets was the responsibility of the 3rd Reproduction Company of the 1st RB&L Group. Leaflets were prepared at the Far East Command Printing and Publication Center outside Yokohama near a railroad station called "Motosumiyoshi." About 250 Americans and 900 Japanese civilian employees worked in the Center. After the leaflets were printed and cut they were rolled and placed inside leaflet bombs by the 3rd Reproduction Company troops. They were then delivered to Tachikawa air base to the planes that dropped them on the Chinese or North Korean troops. From August to September 1951 the Group produced about 13 million leaflets a week. By December 1951 the 50-millionth leaflet was produced. Meanwhile, in Korea, the leaflet missions were planned and organized by the Operations Officer, Kimpo Air Base, Seoul.
The reunion book says about the members of the Group, "The creative psywarriors were all young men, mostly in their early twenties, just starting careers in journalism, advertising and the graphic arts. Their leadership was just slightly older, World War II reservists with only a few years experience in the communications field. Despite their youth, this group produced a cohesive and vital message in the name of the United Nations Command. After leaving the Army, many of these psywarriors went on to successful careers in journalism, TV, advertising, and public relations. A dozen made their mark as university professors."
In regard to the first Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company deployed earlier to Korea, Linebarger says, "The Group's junior partner in the conduct of PsyWar support operations was the Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company. This unit specifically supported an army in the field with adequate propaganda support...its targets were smaller, lived under unusual circumstances, and presented highly vulnerable, rapidly changing propaganda opportunities..."
1st Loudspeaker and Leaflet (L&L) Company
1st Loudspeaker & Leaflet Company - the Heart of PSY-WAR
From the onset of hostilities in June 1950 until late January 1951, tactical PSYOP operations in the field were confined largely to one man, a lieutenant colonel operating at Eighth Army headquarters as a liaison for FECOM. During this period no operational PSYOP personnel were assigned anywhere within EUSAK. In the fall of 1950, the Armys small Technical Information Detachment (TID)of four officers and twenty enlisted was notified that it was to be changed to a Loudspeaker and leaflet Company on 1 September 1950. It was put on alert for Korea and sent from Ft. Riley, Kansas, to Seattle, and then on to Korea, arriving on 4 November 1950. The unit was reorganized in January 1951 as the First Loudspeaker and Leaflet (L&L) Company with a complement of 8 officers, ninety-nine enlisted men, 3 printing presses, 12 loudspeakers, and 27 vehicles, and assigned to a newly created Psychological Warfare Division (PWD) operating within G-3 of the Eighth Army in Korea. PWD then assumed control of tactical PSYOP operations from the PWS, which remained headquartered in Tokyo. The 1st L&L Company became operational April 1951and 9 loudspeaker teams were dispatched to divisions in the field.
The First L&L Company prepared leaflets in the field throughout the Korean War, serving until 21 February 1955. The 1st L&L's Publication Platoon reported printing 280,663,500 leaflets from 1951 to July 1953.
In August 1951, the Armys First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group arrived in Japan from Ft. Riley, Kansas, and was attached to the PWS in Tokyo.
Leaflet # 8721 "All are getting wounded and hurt and we don't have proper medical facilities."
Paul A. Wolfgeher mentions the 1st Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company in an article entitled "Psychological Warfare" submitted to the Korean War Educator. He says,
The 1st Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company in Korea earned credit for participating in eight campaigns during the Korean War and was awarded two meritorious unit commendations and a Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation (ROKPUC). The 1st Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company served as the Armys Tactical Psychological Warfare unit until the end of the Korean War. This unit was the first of its kind to serve in a combat zone, with loudspeakers on vehicles and aircraft, and which also disseminated propaganda from the aircraft. Some of the leaflets promised medical treatment for frostbite, undermined faith in their officers, and similarly instilled fear for soldiers safety. Another theme told of the mounting enemy dead.
First Lieutenant Marvin R. Warshaw (Ret.), was the wartime commander of the Leaflet Company of the 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group. He says in part in correspondence with psywar expert Rod Oakland published in issue number 183 of the Falling Leaf:
at the time was headquarters for the Adjutant Generals Publishing and Printing Department. I recruited a staff for my printing company by going to the department, and offering promotions to anyone applying for transfer to my outfit. Fort Riley
As commanding officer of the printing company, I worked with a civilian from a printing press making company; together he and I designed a mobile printing press, sitting on a steel bed that could be jacked up and leveled in the field.
I asked a B-29 squadron leader for permission to modify an empty 500 pound finned bomb casing by cutting the casing in half vertically, and having five shelves welded into half of the casing, so that when the casing was closed and held together by a proximity fuse, the shelves each covered the entire interior diameter of the casing. We used these bombs by inserting what we called leaflet pies curled up and held together by a piece of string.
Private First Class Wilson, Sergeant Lawrence OBrien, and Yang Yunn broadcast to the
Chinese near Munye-ri. This loudspeaker team Sergeant was later awarded a Silver Star.
Colonel Jack K. Norris says in his
On paper, the 1st L&L Company contained about 100 personnel divided into two platoons and a headquarters element. The heart of the 1st L&L was the hog callers (loudspeaker teams) The loudspeaker platoon contained three loud speaker teams on paper but during the Korean War the 1st L&L operated closer to twenty-one teams on the battlefield.
Charles H. Briscoe discusses the 1st L&L Company in 1st L&L in Korea, a Photographers Record 1952-1953, Veritas, Vol. 3, No. 4, 2007. He says in part:
The 1st L&L mission was to conduct tactical propaganda for a field army and to provide qualified Psywar specialists as advisors to the army and subordinate corps staffs. Dissemination of tactical propaganda was to be done by leaflet, information sheets and loudspeaker
The Korean War veterans of the 1st Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company, Eighth U.S. Army, held their first reunion at Ft. Bragg, N.C., in May 2007. Four psywar veterans who were killed in action in
Koreawere commemorated when their names were added to the Army Special Operations Command Memorial Wall. U.S.
Charles H. Briscoe writes about the company again in Veritas, Volume 7, No. 1, 2011. He adds:
Chinese and Korean propaganda scripts and taped broadcasts were approved by the Projects Branch Chief of the G-3 Psywar Division before being distributed to loudspeaker teams. English, Chinese and Korean translations were done by university-educated writers isolated from reality in Seoul. Most scripts were too sophisticated for majority of the target audience uneducated conscripted Chinese and North Korean peasants.
The Publications Platoon turned the artwork, photography, and written messages prepared by the Propaganda Platoon into paper leaflets, information sheets, and poster dissemination for loudspeaker teams, Air Force and Army aircraft and artillery. Leaflets were delivered to a nearby Army ordnance company where they were packed into 105 mm artillery shells for shipment to howitzer battalions supporting the front line units. Artillery delivery of leaflets was the most accurate.
Still, the primary means was to airdrop packages of leaflets with time fuses from C-47s. The leaflet packages were shoveled, kicked and thrown out like they had been in WWI and WWII. Some 15 million propaganda leaflets were dumped on enemy front line troops each week by Psywar units.
"The Speaker" was one of the aircraft used to make loudspeaker
broadcasts during the Korean War.
Note the mounted loudspeakers in the open side door.
What are the duties of a Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company? A Korean War era publication of the Fifth L & L says: "The L & L Company is a combat support weapon. It does its job with loudspeakers, set up close to the front line, hurling out messages to the enemy, and with leaflets thrown out by the thousands over enemy troops from airplanes or artillery shells. An L & L Company is also an American propaganda agency. It is the voice of the United States Army addressing the enemy. Its words are as official as the commanding generals signature. Thus, each broadcast and each written message must be carefully prepared, must be accurate, and must conform to established policy. In a sense, the L & L men are simply the transmitters of messages from a whole people."
What was the Policy Guidance? Early in the war it was quite different than that mentioned above. The very first PWB guidance was as follows:
1. To speak always from a U.N. and not a
2. To treat the conflict as aggression and not as civil war
3. To attack Communism in terms of its visible effects on everyday life and not in ideological and theoretical terms.
4. To concentrate on simple and concrete subjects, simply expressed, with direct bearing on
From the very beginning of the campaign, PSYOP had been based on a weekly plan specifying themes to be used in radio, leaflets and other media. The themes changed frequently according to the tactical situation. The one essential ingredient that never changed was truthfulness.
In the first few months of the war before the Chinese entered the fray the major objectives forwarded from the Intelligence and Research Section were:
1. To weaken the effectiveness and resistance of the North Korean Troops.
2. To bring the truth about the war to the people of
. North Korea
3. To bolster the morale of the South Korean troops and civilian population.
There followed a constant stream of new guidance. In order not to infuriate the major Communist powers, PWB Guidance 1 reminded the PSYOP troops not to use the term puppet of link China or Russia to the North Koreans. By 10 November PWB #17 finally recognized the Chinese entrance into the war and stated:
Factual reporting of Chinese soldiers in
is now authorized, under the following conditions only Korea
South Korean interpreter prepare to conduct aerial loudspeaker broadcasts
Clayton D. Laurie evaluates early American PSYOP in Korea in a section entitled "Psychological Warfare," in The Encyclopedia of the Korean War, ABC-CLIO, 2000. He says:
Leaflets, radio broadcasts, and loudspeakers were credited as a major factor in the heavy increase in prisoners after July 1951, and interrogations of Communist Chinese prisoners of war showed that one in three were influenced to surrender by leaflets. Interrogations of civilians in North and South Korea further revealed that UN radio broadcasts reached a considerable audience and stirred some civilian opposition to the Communist regime. One authority has determined that Chinese enlisted men were found the most amenable to UN psychological warfare messages, while the hardcore North Korean officer corps were least inclined to believe or act on such appeals.
Pettee is not complimentary in regard to the company. He says that they could have
provided excellent propaganda if they were combat ready when they reached
The Tactical Information Detachment consisting of four officers and twenty enlisted men sailed from
on 15 September 1950. It's one printing press was under repair in Seattle at the time. It was authorized 3 loudspeakers on vehicles, 3 vans and accessory equipment. It needed tractors for its vans, dark-room equipment, water purification equipment, and other items. On 4 November it was designated the 1st Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company and authorized eight officers, 99 enlisted men, 3 presses, 12 speakers and 27 vehicles. By 30 November the equipment was still in Chicago . Two speakers had arrived, only one of which was operable. At last notice the Company had about 55 personnel. So far as known, the operations of this company as an active psywar unit did not begin before 1951. Yokohama
In the Volume 1, number 2, issue of Veritas, the Journal of Army Special Operations History, Charles H. Briscoe talks about the successes of the unit later in the war in an article entitled Volunteering for Combat: Loudspeaker Psywar in Korea.
It was April 1951 before the company was combat effective, and nine loudspeaker teams were dispatched to the divisions on line. By the end of June 1951, the company had eleven loudspeaker teams in action.
Briscoe also mentions the recruiting methods of the Company, quoting Private Gerald Rose. Rose is on a Korean troop train when it suddenly came to a stop:
a soldier entered the darkened railroad car and asked if anyone had training in psychology.
Rose, who had taken a basic psychology course in college, said, I have.
the shanghaied Rose was put on a train to
In less than one year Rose completed 253 tactical loudspeaker missions, was awarded a Bronze Star, a Combat Infantrymans Badge, and two Purple hearts for wounds received while on loudspeaker teams on the front lines.
The March 1953 photograph above is from the World Wide Photo Agency. The title was PSYWAR in Action. The text explains in part:
PSYWAR personnel are continuously improving and devising new methods of playing upon the enemy soldiers fears, jealousies, hope and suspicions in order to lower his fighting ability.
Stanley Sandler evaluates the Korean War leaflets in "Army Psywarriors - A History of U.S. Army Psychological Operations - Part I - Colonial America to Korea" published in Mindbenders, Vol. 8, No.1, 1995. Some of his comments are:
These tactical psywarriors relied on vehicle and aircraft mounted loudspeakers to get their verbal messages across. But, as in previous U.S. wars, the leaflet was still the major medium.
The most impressive psychological weapon of the U.S. Army in Korea, or at least the one that has left the most evidence, was the leaflet. Probably at no time before or since has the Army fielded such effective printed propaganda.
Korean War Army leaflets used the time-tested themes of the happy POW, good soldier-bad leaders, surrender and you will be well-treated, we can crush you, and nostalgia for home, family and women.
In addition, Army psychological warriors cleverly worked on latent Chinese anti-Russian feeling, harping on the brutal Soviet liberation of Manchuria in 1945, and proclaiming that Stalin will fight to the last Korean.
Surveys taken in UN POW camps documented the effectiveness of these leaflets in the field as well as loudspeaker broadcasts. But the most stunning psychological warfare victory for the UN was the refusal of no less than 33,000 enemy prisoners of war to return to their homelands, In contrast, a mere 21 U.S. military personnel refused repatriation.
About effectiveness, in a letter dated 27 January 1951, Colonel C. S. Myers, Military Intelligence Section, Headquarters, Far East Command reported to the Chief, Psychological Warfare Special Staff, U.S. Army, Washington, DC on the effectiveness of psychological warfare operations:
Of the reports received during the week on interrogation of prisoners, 35 concerned prisoners captured since 10 December (3 Chinese, 30 North Korean). 12 of this group-all Koreans-commented on psychological warfare factors. 3 of the prisoners had been influenced by leaflets; 5 had not seen leaflets; and 4 remarked they had seen leaflets but were skeptical and still feared that they would be killed if captured by UN Forces. The following comments on psychological warfare factors were extracted from these reports and from preliminary field interrogations:
A North Korean prisoner captured on 7 January said he had wanted to surrender after reading a UN leaflet but had been afraid of being killed by his officers.
Another North Korean prisoner said he had picked up a leaflet in early January and had formed a determination to surrender at the earliest opportunity.
After seeing a surrender leaflet on 14 January, a Chinese soldier deserted his unit and surrendered to UN Forces on 17 January.
A junior lieutenant of the Chinese 38th Army who said that a UN leaflet had influence him to surrender described the morale of his unit as being low because of inadequate clothing and insufficient food. The prisoner said that in the 336th Regiment 10 soldiers died every day from illness, exposure, and other reasons not related to combat. He averred that a member of the 2nd Battalion of the Regiment had shot himself in the leg in the hope of being evacuated to Manchuria. The prisoner also said that the troops in his unit had been to that they would not cross the 38th parallel and that crossing into South Korea occasioned considerable complaints among the troops. A factor in these complaints, he said was increased fear of air attacks in the open country encountered during the southward movement.
Paul M. A. Linebarger observed that:
The airborne loudspeaker was the object of experimentation, but the bulk of loudspeaker broadcasts were made from vehicle mounts, such as tanks, and from emplacements. During the static battle situation of 1951-53, most of the broadcasts were of the latter kind. Range of the voice casts was short, something like two thousand yards under ideal conditions. Personnel and equipment were supplied by the 1st L&L Company, and scripts were prepared by PsyWar Division, G3, EUSAK.
The January 1951 memorandum Psychological Warfare Operations gives examples of such operations. For instance:
One C-47 aircraft with loudspeaker was employed on 21 January in two missions over North Korean troops. One mission covered North Korean Army V Corps units in a 60 square-mile area north of Wonju and was made in conjunction with the dissemination of anti-morale leaflets 8011.The second mission covered three areas northeast of Andong with instructions concerning a safe route to be used in surrendering. In conjunction with this mission, safe-conduct passes were disseminated.
Retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel Robert D. Childre flew leaflet drops and loudspeaker
missions out of airbase K-16, (
Insignia of the 6167th Air Base Group B Flight
The Korean War Project website says:
Originating as the 6153rd Air Base Unit in October 1950, this organization operated the Seoul Airdrome except when forced to leave in the face of the Chinese advances in December 1950. From around February 1952, the organization also began flying combat support missions under direct control of Headquarters, Fifth Air Force. Flying unarmed, modified C-46, C-47, and B-26 aircraft, the group dropped flares in front line support and for B-26-night interdiction flights. In addition, its aircraft dropped leaflets and in B-26 and C-47 aircraft fitted with speakers and amplifiers flew "voice" psychological warfare missions. Working in close harmony with ground and air intelligence, the 6167th also performed some agent drops and resupply missions deep behind enemy lines during the hours of darkness. The 6167th Operations Squadron received a Distinguished Unit Citation for actions of May-November 1952. Beginning in early 1953, pilots from the 581st Air Resupply and Communications Wing, a special operations organization based in the Philippines, augmented aircrews of the 6167th Air Base Group.
NOTE: The photographs below were sent to me by Military Historian Mike Sumrell of Fayetteville, NC who stated that they are all copyrighted, and no reader has his permission to copy the photographs or use them in any way.
Unidentified pilot in the cockpit C-47 while at Leopard Base on the island of
Paengnyong-do, 125 miles behind enemy lines, 2 June 1952
At one point, the Air Force fought to control U.S. Propaganda. They felt that it was their aircraft that dropped the leaflets and sent the loudspeaker messages to the enemy, so why shouldn’t they be the main proponent. The Army later won that battle, but at the present, the Marines have opened their own psychological operations school and many Navy ships carry presses that can print leaflets to be dropped by naval aircraft at sea.
The same unidentified Pilot near the back door on a leaflet mission; July 1952
Formed from the 6167th Air Base Unit in October 1950 to operate flare aircraft, psychological operations, and behind-the-lines agent insertions and resupply drops during the war. Its designation served as a cover for its actual special operations activities. Its 6167th Operations Squadron was augmented by aircrews from the Clark AB, Philippines-based 581st Air Resupply and Communications Wing (581st ARCW), a cover designation for a special operations unit. Aircraft operated were the B-26 Invader, C-46 Commando, and C-47s.
Captain Han of the Korean army and his “kicker.”
They throw and “kick” leaflet bundles out of the aircraft – July 1952
Two SA-16 Albatrosses were sent to K-16 (Seoul Airport) in South Korea by the 581st ARCW to augment B Flight of the 6167th Air Base Group. In addition, four Sikorsky H-19A helicopters were also forward deployed to K-16 in support of the 2157th Air Rescue Squadron (in fact, they were co-located with the 2157th but supported B Flight, as did the two SA-16s).
Combined Command Reconnaissance Activities, Korea (CCRAK) maintained Operational Control of these forces and employed them into North Korea along with B Flight and Special Air Missions detachment aircraft.
Captain “Red” garrison flying C-47 during demonstration – 14 June 1952
The 6167th Operations Squadron operated C-47s and B-26s, equipped for both leaflet drops and psychological warfare voice missions. In 1952–1953, almost all flying operations were nighttime missions and included occasional drops of very young teenaged Korean nationals whose parents were well paid to allow their children to parachute into North Korea. Their assignments were to visually obtain strategic intelligence on production facilities, transportation, troop placement, and other specifics. They were to walk back to the battle lines and, using passwords, pass through to deliver the intelligence gathered to the proper US military authorities.
B flight operations, K16 - 12 June 1952
The Devil & Aircraft painted on the end of the Quonset hut is the Squadron Insignia
Colonel Michael E. Hass, mentioned the 6167th Air Base Group in Apollo’s Warriors: United States Air Force Special Operations during the Cold War, Air University Press, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, 1977 (edited for brevity):
Twenty-four years after the close of the Korean War, the U.S. Government finally declassified the Special Operations wartime activities of B Flight, 6167th Operations Squadron, Fifth Air Force. B Flight’s PSYWAR operations were:
Conduct missions assigned by the psychological warfare section of the 5th Air Force and the 8th Army encompassing leaflet drops and speaker missions.
The two Korean girls who do the voice casting over the loudspeakers under
They fly at 7,000 feet and tell the communists to surrender. 14 June 1952.
The use of female voices added insult to injury to the North Korean troops, who fear airpower above all other U.S. weapons encountered in combat.
B Flight’s leaflet drops were made from 7,500 feet, a safer altitude than the much lower levels attempted earlier in the war. B flight eventually dropped its early attempts to use B-25s and C-47s for PSYWAR loudspeaker missions. Flown at 5,000 feet or lower, these flights took the same enemy ground-fire punishment meted out to all loudspeaker flights. B Flight eventually suspended loudspeaker missions with the cryptic note, “Due to battle damage and scarcity of speaker parts, this method of psychological warfare has been curtailed.”
"The Speaker" C47 aircraft
Airman First Class Glenn L. Bloesch was also stationed at K16 (
The unit emblem resembled a cloaked figure with a batman like mask holding a dagger point down across his chest. We were known as the Psywarriors. Our squadron consisted of three flights - A, B, and C.
A flight were very comfortable B-17 bombers that hauled Brigadier Generals from
Koreato and back. The tour was 21 months. Japan
We were B flight. When flying broadcast missions, there was an additional crew of Koreans onboard, one to man the audio transmitter while another spoke in different dialects. Our tour was 75 missions over enemy territory.
C flight was cargo flights to
and back. The tour of was duty 21 months. Japan
B Flight had its own anthem to the tune of Hail to our Alma Mater. Some of the lyrics were:
Here we go our leaflets scattered,
over hill and dale.
Some for their side, some for our side,
some on every trail
Open up another keg boys,
heres a B Flight toast.
To the boys who drive the Goonies
up and down the coast.
Some of the background on the two aircraft is told by retired Chief Warrant Officer 2 Harry D. Lance on his Internet report: A Short History of The Voice of the United Nations. He says in part:
The Air Force supplied two C-47 aircraft. Sound equipment was obtained from the US Navy and the job of retrofitting two aerial platforms was assigned to FEAMCOM Air Base at Tachikawa, Japan. The Navy equipment was known as Amplifier AN/AIA-4 and had been designed at Western Electric Laboratories near the end of World War Two. There were only two complete sets of the AIA-4 ever produced, each consisting of four 500 watt audio amplifiers and four DC power supplies. Both aircraft were ready by October 1950.
During the early Allied advance, The Speaker" was sent to Airbase K27 Air Base at Yonpo in North Korea to support the X Corps. With the entrance of the Chinese into the war, in early December the aircraft was relocated to Airbase K16 which was the Seoul Municipal Airport.
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Jim Gibson Ford tells us more in his Internet report: The Voice (A Tactical Operation). Once again, I quote just a few lines:
General Douglas MacArthur and General White, the Air Force Chief-of-Staff had personally directed the implementation of this project as part of the psychological warfare effort in Korea. The Radio Operators cubical was modified to include a "Broadcast position" to be used by a Korean announcer speaking in the native language of the enemy troops on the ground.
Ford tells of a mission where he spotted what appeared to be a battalion of enemy troops fleeing north at Kuni Re. He wrote several messages for his Korean broadcaster to transmit immediately. One such message was:
If you continue north you will be killed by U.N. planes. Turn around! Go south! Wave white flags! Throw down your arms! Now! You will receive hot food and a good rest place. Just now! Wave white flags! Go south.
Glenn Bloesch sent me some of the leaflets that he dropped on
This Symbol - The Mark of Slavery and Death
Text on the back is:
WHY SLAVERY -- BECAUSE
1. You are under continued surveillance! Is this not slavery?
2. You are told what to think! Is this not slavery?
3. You are afraid to whom you talk! Is this not slavery?
4. You are afraid to complain about anything! Is this not slavery?
5. You are forced to public self-criticism! Is this not slavery?
WHY DEATH -- BECAUSE
1. Communist tactics are that
has more men than UN has bullets! China
2. Communists make your unarmed second waves use weapons of the first wave dead!
Chinacannot defeat the UN in ! South Korea
4. Not even Chinese can fight, dig and carry heavy loads day and night forever!
5. Too many of Huang-ti's innocent descendants already are dead in the Korean mountains!
REMEMBER THE COMMUNIST SYMBOL!
IT IS THE MARK OF SLAVERY AND DEATH!
Note: Huang-ti was the first emperor and founder of
The 1951 memorandum Psychological Warfare Operations also mentions loudspeaker tanks:
Tests have been made with a loudspeaker mounted on an M-24 tank. It was determined that a speaker which operates satisfactorily from generating equipment functional to the tank can be welded in place within three hours.
A U.S. tank equipped with louspeaker
Briscoe mentions the tank loudspeakers in Veritas. He points out the advantage of the tank in allowing the loudspeakers to move far forward, well into that neutral zone between the friendly and enemy lines. However, there were numerous problems. The engine had to be kept running to power the loudspeakers, and that meant that the loudspeakers had to be set on maximum to be heard over the engine. Between the engine and the loudspeaker noise, the tank crew, buttoned up inside the tank could not hear approaching danger. The loudspeaker team had to communicate with the crew through the outside telephone, but because of all the noise, they could not hear each other. Meanwhile, the loudspeaker tank became a magnet for attack.
The Headquarters of the Eighth United States Army Awarded the 1st Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company an Award of Meritorious Commendation on General Orders #243 dated 28 February 1953. The citation read:
By direction of the Secretary of the Army, under the provisions of AR 220-315, the Meritorious Unit Commendation is awarded to the following unit of the United States Army for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service during the period indicated: The 1st LOUDSPEAKER AND LEAFLET COMPANY is cited for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service in support of combat operations in Korea during the period 1 August 1952 to 1 February 1953. The personnel of the 1st LOUDSPEAKER AND LEAFLET COMPANY, the only unit of this kind in the combat zone, performed their duties with determination and aggressiveness. Equipped with bulky public address systems best adapted to vehicular use, the loudspeaker teams hand carried their equipment to isolated peaks on the front in order to render close psychological warfare support to infantry line units. The unit conducted a constant attack by leaflets on the fighting efficiency of the opposing forces. On many occasions the unit operated its presses twenty-four hours daily for extended periods of time in order to satisfy tactical requirements for leaflets. The 1st LOUDSPEAKER AND LEAFLET COMPANY displayed such outstanding devotion to duty in the performance of unusually difficult tasks as to set it apart from and above other units. The devotion to duty, esprit de corps, and loyalty exhibited by the members of this company throughout this period reflect great credit on themselves and the military service of the United States.
Morale Poster 8240th Army Unit
In 1951, the Eighth Army authorized a unit with the innocuous name "G3 Miscellaneous Division." G3 is the general staff title for operations. G3 Misc. was to be responsible for the planning, training, and support of unconventional operations.
Original pin back 8240th AU unofficial Spook Badge. These badges came in 3 sizes with 3 different styles of attachment, pin back, clutch back and screw back. These were made using confidential funds and given out to operational types at 8240th HQ in Seoul.
On 10 December 1951, the 8240th Army Unit was activated under Eighth Army G3 Misc. The 8240th consisted largely of its "Guerilla Division", which, as the obscurely named chain of command suggests, was largely a maverick operation engaged in a variety of clandestine activities.
In January of 1952 the Combined Command Reconnaissance Activities, Korea (CCRAK) was activated. This was actually a cover name for the classified designation, "Covert, Clandestine, and Related Activities - Korea." Most of the partisan warfare units came under the command or control of these two organizations. Within these units there were operational areas called wolf packs, unconventional warfare groups in sections, task forces, and even small groups called "donkeys," "white tigers," or "rabbits." There have been several books written on this subject and interested readers can search them out. I recommend Colonel Michael E. Haas's books Apollo's Warriors, Air University Press, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, 1997, and In the Devil's Shadow, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 2000.
Although this leaflet was not prepared specifically for black operations it depicts a South Korean partisan fighting the communist cadres. Such partisan action behind the lines would be almost by definition, black. The leaflet depicts a South Korean patriot aiming a rifle at a terrified Communist. It was produced 8 December 1952 to induce the farmers of Huang Hao-do to protect and defend the partisans. Some of the text is:
The partisan is fighting for your liberation from Communist aggression.
Protect the partisan and he will protect you.
This leaflet mentions South Koreans fighting in the North and might be in regard to the 8240th. It pictures anti-Communist partisans attacking a police station and at the far right a policeman. The image was designed by Republic of Korea artists and printed by the Psychological Warfare Division G3 (Operations) of the U.S. Eighth Army. It also bears a Korean code number E-126. The text on the front is:
COOPERATE WITH THE PATRIOTS WHO ARE FIGHTING HEROICALLY FOR THE REALIZATION OF A FREE KOREA!
DOWN WITH KIM IL SUNG, THE GREATEST TRAITOR IN OUR HISTORY!
Haeju Police Station
The back is all text and says in part:
Look! The patriotic struggle of the heroes fighting for the realization of a free Korea!
Do you know the fact that the heroes fighting for the realization of a free Korea are rising up spontaneously everywhere in North Korea and are fighting for freedom?
They are destroying Communist installations, cutting off Communist communication routes and capturing weapons of the North Korean Peoples Army and police Down with Kim Il Sung! Drive out the Chinese Communist rascals.
Meanwhile, the army and the CIA, bitterly vying for control of behind-the-lines actions in Korea, agreed to form a Combined Command Reconnaissance Activities, Korea (CCRAK). This was a cover name for a classified designation, "Covert, Clandestine, and Related Activities Korea," which was intended to be a joint army and CIA operation with the CIA in overall charge, and with the air force and navy supporting the execution of missions. By January 1952, when CCRAK was activated, actual control ended up with the armys FECOM-G2. The CIA promptly formed a new unit, JACK, nominally under CCRAK but in reality operating independently. This smoldering distrust continued throughout the Korean War.
In the years following the cease-fire in Korea, PSYOP operations continued occasionally against the North Koreans. In the 1960s, the Seventh Psychological Operations Group, Korea Detachment, headquartered in Okinawa, produced and disseminated leaflets under the code name Operation Jilli (Jilli is Korean for "truth"). Some of these leaflets were printed at Fort Bragg.
A Bill Mauldin Homage
Courtesy Rod Oakland
Bill Mauldin was an American editorial cartoonist who won two Pulitzer Prizes for his work. He was most famous for his World War II cartoons depicting two American soldiers, Willie and Joe, weary and bedraggled infantry troopers who stoically endured the difficulties and dangers of duty in the field. These cartoons were widely published and distributed in the American army, abroad and in the United States. One Stars and Stripes cartoon showed the two GIs firing artillery and saying: Tell them leaflet people the krauts aint got time fer readin' today. Here, another cartoonist has copied Mauldins style and made a cartoon of Communist Chinese surrendering during the Korean War. Mauldin drew the exact same cartoon during WWII showing German soldiers surrendering.
This EUSAK G-3 leaflet to the North Korean Army uses a cartoon character and no text to convey a surrender message to both literate and illiterate troops in an efficient manner. There are six cartoon panels showing the unhappy soldier finding a United Nations leaflet and surrendering. The United Nations knew that many of the North Korean soldiers were illiterate farmers and workers who would be unable to read the text on propaganda leaflets. In fact, we find a note from an Eighth United States Army Korea (EUSAK) officer that discusses that very subject:
One problem we were confronted with was how to effectively reach the sometimes large (80%) illiterate target audience. This so-called "Sad Sack" leaflet, named after a popular G.I. comic character of WWII fame (Stars and Stripes) proved to be the answer. Other leaflets in the same cartoon form were 8407, 8591, 8601, 8610, and 8907.
The American Comic Character "Sad Sack"
The back of the leaflet bears a short simply-written Korean-language text for those troops that can read:
Cease resistance! Come over to the United Nations side. Do not die for nothing! You safety is absolutely guaranteed! The United Nations will give you good treatment.
There are many such leaflets aimed at the illiterates among the enemy. I depict three more. Even if you cannot read, the message is clear. In leaflet 1049 entitled How to surrender and receive U.N. Good treatment, a North Korean soldier finds a surrender pass and shares it with a friend. He destroys his rifle by beating it on a rock. He surrenders with two friends to UN forces. In the final panel he is comfortable in a POW camp and his injured friend has been medically treated. This leaflet was printed by General Headquarters, Far East Command.
This cartoon is like leaflet 1049 above. Once again it is a safe conduct pass on one side and a 4-panel cartoon showing the enemy how to surrender on the other. This leaflet is for Chinese soldier. In the first panel Chinese soldiers find a leaflet, they throw away their weapons and head toward the UN lines, across the lines they raise their hands and in the last panel they are safely within a UN compound. The back of the leaflet bears a formal safe conduct pass in Chinese, English, and Korean signed by General MacArthur. This leaflet was printed by General Headquarters, Far East Command.
Leaflet 1051 to the North Koreans features an 8-panel cartoon. The title is Unfulfilled promises. Without reading a word you can see that the Communists promised you food but delivered empty boxes, promised medicines but again delivered only empty boxes, promised you air cover but so far all you have seen is mosquitoes, and promised you a great victory but all you have seen is falling UN bombs. This leaflet was printed by General Headquarters, Far East Command.
Leaflet 1070 is an example of a perfect leaflet operation as shown on an American propaganda leaflet. Here a North Korean officer surrenders to U.N. forces holding a safe conduct leaflet in his hand. On the back of the leaflet, the same officer returns home to his family alive and well after the war.
The text is:
United Nations Forces do not discriminate against the North Korean soldiers who come to the U. N. side.
Whether you are a Communist Party member or an ordinary soldier, you can expect the same treatment promised by the United Nations.
Within 24 hours after President Truman announced that
Most of our information on leaflet operations comes from the
Psychological warfare and leafleting were under the same command. We had a mobile printing press that we pulled with a trailer, printing thousands of leaflets right in the field. For a year and a half, I worked with different kinds of balloons. Because of their size and shape, we referred to them as pillow balloons. We loaded them with leaflets, perhaps a thousand sheets of paper, and then added the helium. The pillow balloons, like all the balloons we used, were open at the bottom. When the balloon reached one thousand feet, the gas would expel from the opening. This helped it drop to a lower altitude. Then it would rip open and dispense its leaflets. The more we helium-filled the balloons and lightened the loads, the further they would go. Our average target was ten to fifteen miles away to reach enemy soldiers on their way to the front and to educate village people everywhere we could We also dropped loosely tied leaflets from low-flying C-47s, the two-engine cargo planes. These flights were made at night from low altitudes. We tied the leaflets with weak twine, and when the packages flew out of the planes into the slipstream, the twine broke, the packages opened, and leaflets filled the air.
Surrendering enemy soldiers fresh from the battlefield were also used to test Allied leaflets.They were fed, clothed, and told that they were safe and could be completely honest. They were then handed a pointer. On the wall, we had copies of all the leaflets we had sent out within the past few months. Each man pointed to the one which had impressed him most. Eventually, we knew which ones worked best and which ones didnt work at all.
Jin-Heon Jung says in his 2014 working paper Ballooning Evangelism: Psychological Warfare and Christianity in the Divided Korea:
Inter-Korean propaganda competitions originated during the Korean War when US forces and their allies spread about 2.5 billion leaflets in the areas occupied by or sheltering North Korean and Chinese forces. US General MacArthur commanded that they “bury the enemy in leaflets.” Respectively, North Korean forces spread about 30 million leaflets. A historical study estimates that the quantity of the UN leaflets, circa 2.5 billion, was enough to cover the entire peninsula in a layer 35 leaflets deep. It can thus be argued that the UN leaflet-psywar exhibited capitalist characteristics: namely, not only overproducing and but also over consuming materials to demonstrate “superiority” over the other.
Public Opinion Quarterly notes:
Of the three major media of Psychological Warfare leaflets, loudspeakers and radio the first two have been primarily directed against enemy troops. The larger of these two operations, and thus the more effective, has been the leaflet program, directed by Robert M. Spaulding.
During the first 125 days of the operation more than one hundred million leaflets were disseminated, and 70 different leaflets have been produced, each one designed to support one of the three major objectives of the PSYWAR program.
Paul M. A. Linebarger writes that:
As in World War II, leaflets were delivered primarily by two means: aircraft and artillery. B-29s of the Far East Air Force ferried leaflet bombs on night missions deep into strategic areas. Light bombers and liaison craft in support of EUSAK dropped both leaflet bombs and bundles on tactical targets. The leaflet bundle was a Korean war development. It was wrapped, tied, and fused in such a manner that it would open and release its leaflets in mid-air. The 105mm. howitzer remained the principal artillery piece for placing propaganda-loaded shells on pinpoint targets.
Tremendous quantities of leaflets were printed. The 1st RB&L Group on many occasions averaged better than twenty million pieces of printed propaganda every week. To this, the lst L&L Company in Korea added an average of three and a half million leaflets per week.
Air Delivery of Leaflets
B-29 with bomb bay doors open prepared to disseminate leaflets
The workhorse of air delivery of leaflets in the Korean War was the C-47 Transport Aircraft. Also used was the B-29 Superfortress, which could distribute one million leaflets per flight. Some B-26 gunships were equipped with special pods that held several hundred pounds of leaflets, which could be dribbled out at a slow rate or dumped in bulk in a few seconds. By the end of the war, more than 2.5 billion leaflets had been dropped over enemy positions.
What is the main purpose of the leaflet? Wolfgeher explains: "Leaflets are the
work-horse of Psywar. After the North Koreans crossed the 38th parallel on 25 June1950,
enough leaflets were used in Korea to provide one for every person on earth. Leaflets were
dropped by leaflet bombs and timed fused bundles. They were shot across the lines by
leaflet shells, and carried and distributed by infantry patrols. The standard size of a
leaflet used in Korea was 5 ˝ x 8 ˝. These leaflets could be retained and passed on from
person to person without distortion. The leaflet could be hidden and read later in
A properly developed and designed message can have a deep and lasting effect on the target audience. The heading of the leaflet is the most important part because it is what your eyes see first. It has to be forceful and short, gain the interest of the target audience, and contain actual facts and details. Color on a leaflet should contrast sharply with the predominant color of the terrain over which the leaflet will be used. It has to stand out so that the individual would want to pick it up. Through intelligence you can learn the favorable colors of the target audience.
Pictures on leaflets showing bombed enemy cities are proof to the soldier that their homeland is subject to air raids. During the Korean War, the leaflet themes centered around the happy POW, good soldiers, bad leaders, surrender, you will be treated well, and nostalgia for home, family, and woman."
The primary means of dispersing leaflets was the leaflet bomb. Fully loaded with 30,000 fliers, a bomb weighed 225 pounds. Before the leaflets were packed into the bomb, a fuse was placed between the two halves of the bomb. The fuse was set to ignite at a predetermined altitude; the fuse detonated the primer cord, which separated the two body sections, detached the fins, and released the leaflets. Wind currents dispersed the leaflets, hopefully over the chosen area.
Loading M16A1 Cluster Adaptor Leaflet Bomb
The USAF in Korea: Campaigns, Units, and Stations 19501953, Organizational History Branch, Research Division, Air Force Historical Research Agency, 2001, mentions the various squadrons that dropped leaflets over the enemy:
The 92d Bombardment Group, (Medium) arrived in early July 1950, and almost immediately flew a leaflet mission to Seoul.
The 98th Bombardment Wing, (Medium) arrived on 1 April 1951. It took part in support of UN ground forces, and propaganda leaflet drops. The units last bombing mission, flown on 25 July 1953, was followed on the last day of the war with a propaganda-leaflet drop.
The 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, (Medium, Photographic) was formed on 15 November 1950, performed target and bomb-damage assessment photo and visual reconnaissance, and conducted electronic ferret reconnaissance to determine frequency, location, and other characteristics of enemy ground radar. The squadron also performed shipping surveillance over the Sea of Japan near the Siberian coast and leaflet drops over North Korea.
The 512th Reconnaissance Squadron, (Very Long Range, Weather) conducted shipping surveillance and visual reconnaissance, and accomplished electronic countermeasures reconnaissance until 20 February 1951. In the early days of the conflict, the squadron also dropped leaflets.
The 315th Troop Carrier Wing, (Medium) activated on 10 June 1952, transported between Japan and Korea nearly 55,500,000 pounds of cargo, along with more than 656,000 passengers, paratroopers, and medical evacuees. It also airdropped gasoline, bombs, ammunition, and propaganda leaflets.
The 6167th Air Base Group flying unarmed, modified C46, C47, and B26 aircraft, dropped flares in frontline support and B26 night interdiction flights. In addition, its aircraft dropped leaflets, and using B26 and C47 aircraft fitted with speakers and amplifiers, it flew voice psychological warfare missions.
An article entitled "Psychological Warfare in Korea," Public Opinion Quarterly, spring, 1951, adds:
Over friendly territory the leaflets were simply dropped from low flying aircraft in loosely wrapped bundles that came apart in the air. The typical drop was made from altitudes of about 500 to 1,200 feet.
Over hostile territory, the WWII leaflet bomb was replaced by the M-16-A1 cluster adapter, a hollow thin-skinned bomb approximately the size of a standard 500-pound bomb. Each unit carried 22,500 five x eight-inch leaflets, or 45,000 4 x 5 inch leaflets. An airplane normally carried 32 bombs, each of which weighed 170 pounds fully loaded. Thirty-two bombs constitute one aircraft load. Pilots released the bombs at altitudes of 15,000-25,000 feet and the fuse functioned at about 1000 feet to spread the leaflets.
Soldiers load leaflets into leaflet bombs
Similar information is found in a declassified 3 January 1951 working paper entitled "Leaflet Dropping in Korea by the Far Eastern Air Force." In that paper William Daugherty interviews flight crews and reviews the dissemination of leaflets up to that date.
Up until 10 December 1950 the Far Eastern Air Force (FEAF) had assigned just two B-29 bombers for two sorties a week for leaflet operations. As of 12 December 1950 the Special Projects Branch had printed and disseminated over 147,000,000 leaflets. 88% of those leaflets were dropped by B-29s of the 98th Bomb Group stationed in Yokota, Japan. The B-29 carried a maximum of 32 of the cluster bombs, each carrying 22,500 leaflets measuring 5 x 8 inches, or 45,000 leaflets measuring 4 x 5 inches.
South Korean soldiers preparing leaflet bombs
The workhorse of air delivery of leaflets in the Korean War was the C-47 Transport Aircraft. Also used was the B-29 Superfortress, which could distribute one million leaflets per flight. Some B-26 gunships were equipped with special pods that held several hundred pounds of leaflets, which could be dribbled out at a slow rate or dumped in bulk in a few seconds. By the end of the war, more than 2.5 billion leaflets had been dropped over enemy positions.
On 19 December 1950 FEAF agreed to assign one B-29 that could fly a sortie a day. The medium of distribution by the B-29s was the WWII-era M-16 500-pound bomb (cluster adapter) fitted with the M-111-A2 fuse. There were a number of problems with the leaflet bomb. It tended to tumble when released, often losing its tail and thus its accuracy, the casing frequently came apart in the bomb bay, and faulty fuses caused the bombs to split open early, or remain closed all the way to the ground. Because of these faults that became apparent at Aberdeen Proving Grounds and Elgin Air Force Base, two improved bombs were in development. They are the M-105 and the M16A-1.
Daugherty concludes that the M16 bomb is ineffective and inefficient and that if there is a better leaflet bomb in the inventory, then someone needs to motivate the logistics people to get those bombs forward to where they are needed. He also states that the B-29 bomber is a poor medium of dissemination. He recommends other aircraft, artillery dissemination, or troops on the ground be used to distribute propaganda leaflets.
The technical memorandum Eighth Army Psychological Warfare in the Korean War seems to agree that the leaflet bombs were a problem:
The psywar intelligence process in EUSAK, adequate for situational data, is essentially unreliable as a means of determining the crucially Important cultural and psychological peculiarities of the target audiences. EUSAK Psywar does not have, either within its own ranks or at its disposal, a qualified area expert on China or Korea or even any American who knows the language of either of the two countries. The dependence upon native translators of varying degrees of bilingual expertise is a weak link in the chain of preparing psywar output and deprives the psywar organization of any sure means of controlling from moment to moment what it is saying to the enemy.
EUSAK Psywar dropped an average of more than 14,000,000 leaflets per week during the months of June, July, and August 1951. Approximately 15 percent of the leaflets dropped were prepared and produced at Eighth Army Itself; the remaining 85 percent by the Psywar Section, General Headquarters, in Tokyo.
EUSAK Psywar at no time had at its disposal even the leaflet bomb used in World War II Psywar operations. The leaflet dissemination procedure currently in use was Improvised early in EUSAK Psywar history by the present Air-Ground Liaison Officer and is a further instance of the organization’s successful adjustment to the equipment shortages characteristic of the entire Korean campaign. Leaflets have normally been delivered to the airstrip in bundles of about 2,500 held together with twine. They are initially loaded in the forward area of the C-47, In such fashion that there is a separate pile for each type of leaflet to be "mixed” in the drop. Once the plane is airborne, the personnel who perform the actual dissemination (late teen-age Korean boys) shift the piles to the platform in front and on either side of the rear cargo door (which always remains open during air-drop flights) Meanwhile, the Air-Ground Liaison Officer is in constant consultation with the pilot and copilot: the plane must be cleared to enter the target area; details of the actual strike, the width and depth of the sector to be hit, the direction of flight during the strike, the speed at which the plane is to fly, etcetera, must be worked out with them. When the plane is over the target, a red light beside the cargo door flashes, and the disseminators begin the drop: the bundles, taken from different piles in a specified ratio (to provide the right mix all along the course) are tossed through the open door at specified intervals (equal to the number of seconds the plane is to remain over the target divided by the number of leaflet bundles to be dropped). Approximately ten percent of the bundles are Immediately torn apart by the slipstream and are carried by the wind every which way over the area. The remainder hold together until they hit the ground, where they can be seen billowing up like small artillery bursts; the wind then picks them up and scatters them over a relatively small area.
The drops are known to have been highly inaccurate through an early period of experimentation, leaflets often missing their targets by as much as ten miles. Now, however, the operators claim, based on both observation during actual leaflet drops and of tests conducted in friendly territory, that the drops are about 90 percent accurate. In the present phase of the war, at least, air dissemination of leaflets is not regarded as posing any considerable unsolved problems.
Recommendations for leaflet topics and campaigns are discussed in An Evaluation of Psywar Influence on North Korean Troops, written by the International Public Opinion Research Corporation and subsidized by the Operations Research Office (ORO) of the Johns Hopkins University dated 23 July 1951. This 120-page classified report, with a printing of just 150 copies evaluated the Allied leaflet campaign of the first 205 days of the Korean War after interviewing over 2,000 prisoners of war. It is understood that this is an early survey and as the war continued other recommendations might take priority as the needs and desires of the prisoners was better understood. Some of the recommendations are:
1. Increase the leaflet bombardment of enemy troops. Leaflets have a demonstrable effect in producing surrenders. However, only half of the respondents in the study had seen them.
2. Coordinate the leaflet bombardment with tactical military operations
3. Emphasize the following themes in leaflets:
a. UN forces treat prisoners well. It is absolutely essential that North Korean troops be convinced that they will not be killed if taken prisoner.
b. The components of good treatment including comfortable sleeping conditions, warm winter clothing and food. There is one other component of good treatment which might be emphasized. This is cigarettes. The prisoners in camps were crazy for cigarettes and would run out of formations to pick up and hoard cigarette butts. It is possible that a few cigarettes dropped on enemy troops along with the leaflets promising more in POW camps would be extremely effective.
c. Disagreeable aspect of military life avoided such as hard work, marching, and being killed.
d. Being sent home when the war is over. This assurance decreases the fear of being killed when taken prisoner and also operates upon the potent factor of homesickness.
ORO seems to have been very busy in the early days of the Korean War. I find close to a half-dozen of their reports. A Confidential Staff Memorandum titled Recommendations for Psychological Warfare in Korea was written 8 October 1952 by Kim KiIchoon for the Operations Research Office, The Johns Hopkins University, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington 25, D.C. Some of the comments are (edited for brevity):
Communists are as good, if not better, at guerilla activities as they are in a conventional war. Stragglers in mountain areas can be a serious menace to our rear. A prominent publisher, Mr. Song Jung Who on, met numerous North Korean stragglers in small groups practically in every mountain pass he came through. Mr. Song told me they never showed any desire to give up fighting. If they are ever to be induced to surrender, this is the time when every effort should be made. Communist guerillas in the past years proved that they could survive the severe winters in the mountains with few provisions.
When properly approached, most of them would undoubtedly be willing to surrender. On the other hand, if they are left alone, they may become desperate bandits. Most of the prisoners I interviewed had been afraid to surrender for fear of maltreatment. Those stragglers who are not in immediate contact with our troops may have stronger fears than those who are engaged in combat.
Almost all the prisoners surrendered because they did not want to die, although they would not admit that was their prime motive. We must lead the enemy to rationalize to a better motive, more unselfish and noble. Appeal to their patriotic zeal by telling them that future Korea needs every young man to help build a happy and free nation. The most patriotic and enthusiastic Koreans are found among those of high school and college ages - the ages of North Korean fighting men. "Surrender-or-die" type of leaflets may cause them to be more fanatical.
If possible, assign a well-qualified Korean to write the text for leaflets or for broadcast. A writer or translator should be cautioned to use simple language which can be easily understood by the North Korean soldiers who generally have very poor educational backgrounds. Use prisoners of war for broadcasting and use their pictures to show how they are treated. Besides using prisoner-of-war broadcasts and pictures, prisoners should be permitted to write personal letters to their relatives or friends to be delivered by air drop since there is no other means of delivery quick enough to serve the purpose. It is necessary to let them know that we believe they were misled by communism, and we can do it without making direct or sharp criticism of their leaders.
Practically all prisoners of war agreed that B-29 broadcasts would be the best medium, "if it will work." Increase the volume of propaganda. Quality is very important, but our experience shows that quantity is also an important factor. The lower the intellectual level of our targets, the more we should put emphasis on quantity. Most of the prisoners of war that surrendered on 27 and 28 September did not hear anything about the fighting in Seoul. Most of them did not even know of the landing at Inchon.
[author’s note] That last comment is an odd one. Reports from all the recent wars indicate that far too many leaflets were dropped. They littered the forests and the mountains. Every recommendation said that more specific leaflets for tactical and strategic purposes should be carefully prepared and dropped on specific targets. The concept that more is better, like body counts, has been criticized. In Vietnam there were complaints that all the PSYOP commanders cared about were total numbers of leaflets dropped and total hours of loudspeaker messages broadcast, regardless of needs and effectiveness.
Themes and their codenames are listed in Conrad C. Cranes Operation Research Office report American Airpower Strategy in
Checkmate - Your situation is hopeless.
Bulldozer - We have material superiority, we are stronger, and you will lose.
Sweat and Toil You have put up with winter, digging fox holes, weariness.
Home and mother You are homesick and resentful of your situation.
Iago How can you trust you superiors, your allies, the Communists.
Skinsaver You can still save your life.
Nightingale We will treat you well when you surrender.
Signpost It is safe to surrender if you follow instructions.
Desdemona Our war aims are honorable, we have no wish to harm you.
On the subject of codenames, during the Korean War the United Nations Command took part in a number of specific psychological operations including leaflet drops and radio broadcasts that were given codenames. Jacobson mentions some of them:
Deadline (28 November 27 December 1951), Hold-up (28 December July 1952), meant to explain the meaning and purpose of the United Nations.
. Campaigns to portray the UN negotiators as working hard at the Armistice talks to bring peace to the peninsula. As the talks went on without success the leaflet themes changes slightly to cast continued blame on the Communists. Concord
Rupture and Severance. Designed to establish Communist responsibility should the peace negotiations fail.
Blizzard (24 December 26 December 1951) and Dragon (19 January 27 January 1952). Blizzard used New Year and the U.N.s efforts to restore peace as its theme. Dragon used the theme of nostalgia and longing for home during the lunar New Year holiday season.
Sell-out and Swindle (28 January 23 February 1952). Sell-out claimed that
Chinahad made ruinous deals with the . Plan Swindle demonstrated the false promises and hopes offered by the Chinese government. USSR
Patriot (24 February 15 March 1952). An attempt to intensify Korean patriotic pride, remind the Koreans of the 1919 Revolt for freedom, and attack the Communists for blocking reunification.
Invader (15 June 5 July 1952). An attempt to cause resentment against the Communist leaders for prolonging the war against the South.
Fraud (April - June 1952) Plan Fraud was designed to show that the North Korean regime was corrupt and incompetent.
It is important to note that some of these named operations ran for a month or more, while others were just for a few days. An example of the latter is the holiday season when a campaign might run for all of three days.
Other named psychological operations were:
Strike - The strategic bombing of
. North Korea
Eyewash The design and production of a 12-panel travelling Psywar exhibit.
Rat Killer A campaign to rid South Korea of thousands of Communist guerillas left behind during the North Korean retreat. December 1951 to March 1952.
Fraud - Designed to convince target audience that Soviet Control of
is the aim of the North Korean Communist leaders. Korea
Divider - Designed to stimulate longing for normal human relationships and to create dissension against the Communist government which denies them.
Goodfellow Promises of good treatment from capture to permanent POW camp.
1191/3 To induce NK civilians to let the war pass them by and help ROK partisans.
Cities Designed to turn NK college students against the regime.
Captive To reinforce NK civilians antagonism toward NK for refusal to exchange POWs
Farmer To induce farmers to check fields for bombs before spring plowing.
Founder Reminds the Chinese that the communists have rejected Sun Yat Sens principles.
Divide Fosters dissension between the CCF and NKPA.
[Note] Leaflets with * after the code number indicates that they were recommended by the Korean Psywar EUSAK
William E. Daugherty also wrote the secret technical memorandum Evaluation and Analysis of Leaflet program in the Korean Campaign June December 1950, under the auspices of the Operations research Office of the Johns Hopkins University, dated 23 January 1951. It is important to note that this memorandum only covers the first 205 days of the war. Some of his more pertinent points are:
Through 5 December 1950, slightly more than one-half of all leaflets disseminated by B-29s were directed at either Korean civilians or friend ROK troops; less than one-half were addressed to enemy troops.
Through 28 December, the PWB G-2 had prepared 52 different general-purpose Korean-language leaflets, 19 separate issues of a propaganda series called Parachute News, and 14 Chinese language general-purpose leaflets.
Parachute News No. 11
Parachute News No. 11 coded 2011 is all text with the following stories:
United Nations Troops Break Red Offensive, Red Timetables Falter, Red Troops Starving, UN Air Force Bolstered, and
Netherlandsto send Forces to . Korea
Parachute News No. 18
Parachute News No. 18 coded 2018 depicts a map of Korea on the front showing with white arrows how the United Nations and Republic of Korea forces have surrounded North Korean forces. The title is NORTH KOREAN FORCES HAVE BEEN CUT OFF AND ARE NOW BEING SURROUNDED BY UN AND ROK Forces. The news stories on the back include:
Relief funds for
Korea,New advances of United Nations and . Republicof Korea Armies Continue
The main story explains:
United Nations and Republic of Korea Troops have moved westward through Kwanju,
Chonjuand Kusan to . After liberating Mokpo , United Nations forces marched steadily northward, and were joined at Pyontack by United Nations troops from the Seoul-Inchon area. In the northeast sectors, Taejon units recaptured Chungju, Wonju, Chechon, Hongchon, and Andong and continued on far beyond those cities. Republicof Korea
Daugherty criticizes the Parachute News leaflet as being inept and inefficient:
Beginning 7 July and continuing for three months, 19 separate issues of the Korean language leaflet series (numbers 2001 to 2019) were issued under the misnomer Parachute News. Altogether 14,686,000 copies of leaflets in this series were dropped in
Koreaby based B-29s. This series was obviously named for a very successful and popular Japanese language newspaper Rakkasan Jiho (Parachute News) which was prepared by the Psychological Warfare Branch, Southwest Pacific Area, in World War Two. However, there is to be noted one difference of great importance; the World War II Rakkasan News was a facsimile newspaper, whereas no one could rightfully call any leaflet in the Korean-language Parachute News series anything but a simple propaganda throw-away. Furthermore, in the opinion of the writer, the issues in this series did not constitute acceptable propaganda The series was suspended after 19 issues. The news sheets were not newspapers or news commentaries in any usually accepted sense. They were only poorly constructed and biased news summaries of headline length. Japan
As the war progressed the
Free World Weekly Digest Issue 68
I selected this 9 June 1952 newspaper leaflet coded 2089 because it depicts U.S.
President Harry S. Truman warmly greeting General Dwight D. Eisenhower, candidate for the
Free World Weekly Digest Issue 122
As I mention above, this newspaper was printed in both Korean and Chinese. Here, I depict the Chinese-language version of the same newspaper, but from a much later date. This is issue 122, dated 29 July 1953 and coded 5145. It features a photo of Korean troops moving forward behind a U.S. Tank and some of the stories are: U.S. gives food to hungry East Germans; Communists in Korea agree to U.N. truce terms; and a list of Communist Chinese leaders recently purged. My issues of the Chinese-language paper start at code 5022 and end with code 5501.
I should also point out that since the war never officially ended the U.N. continued to print and distribute this newspaper for many years after the end of the shooting in 1953.
Free World Digest Issue 1
The data sheet for this newspaper says Proposed by the Republic of Korea. Newspapers have proved to be very effective against the enemy." This is the first issue, dated 11 August 1952. Most of the images I show here are pristine from my files. This is a worn newspaper that fully shows the wear and tear of 7 decades age. Some of the stories are: Russia is a big trouble-maker; the Communists are out of date; The U.N. has spent 450 million dollars to rehabilitate Korea, and South Korean pilot flies his 100th mission.
Rehabilitation News Issue 7
This 16 July 1952 newspaper leaflet coded 2606 is one of a series designed to show North Koreans the progress being made in rehabilitation in the Republic of Korea. Three pictures on the front depict schools being destroyed by Communist invaders, Danish workers distributing books and clothes to boys and girls, and Korean workers using donated United Nations Civil Assistance Command Korea, material to rebuild a high school in Korea.
A memorandum entitled Psychological Warfare Operations; dated 27 January 1951, explains the system for assigning serial numbers to Allied printed propaganda. It gives the series numbers first, then an explanation of the type of PSYOP.
1000: 5x8-inch Korean language leaflets of exceptional appeal with interesting
pictures and cartoons (except news sheets).
2000: Korean-language news sheets, in particular "Parachute News."
3000: Korean-language posters.
4000: Reserved for future use.
5000: reserved for future use.
6000: 4x5-inch reduced-size Chinese-language anti-morale leaflets, suitable for artillery dissemination.
7000: 5x8-inch Chinese-language leaflets with miscellaneous subjects, and all after the Allied landing at Inchon.
8000: Leaflets by Eighth Army and subordinate commands.
9000: 4x5-inch reduced-size Korean-language anti-morale leaflets suitable for artillery dissemination.
Types of Leaflets
A Board Displaying the Various Themes of Leaflets used in Korea
As in every psychological warfare operation, there were numerous themes used by the United Nations Forces during the Korean War. Pease lists the themes as:
Themes used against North Koreans and Chinese troops
1. Surrender and receive good food, humane treatment, medical care and shelter from the dangers of war.
2. Surrender and you will stay alive to return to your home after the UN forces win the war.
3. UN Forces have superior firepower. You cannot win.
4. A living North Korean patriot is better than a dead one.
Themes used on Civilians for consolidation efforts in recently liberated areas
1. The Chinese and Korean Communists have conspired to make Korea a puppet state to make you a slave.
2. The Communists will exploit all of Korea for their own purposes.
3. The Communists lie when they preach peace and unity and their reactions reveal the truth.
4. All Koreans are brothers. The Communists war immorally pits them against one another.
5. The free nations of the world, through the United Nations, support the Republic of Korea against the Communist aggression.
The official public access web site for the Department of Defense Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War adds:
Some leaflets promised medical treatment for frostbite, undermined faith in officers, and similarly instilled fear for soldiers safety. Other themes for tactical operations told of the mounting enemy dead and the U.N. materiel superiority. Many enemy POWs claimed that the signature of General MacArthur on a surrender pass convinced them that promises of good treatment would be honored.
Secretary of the Army Frank Pace, Jr. believed Korea offered an especial opportunity for highly profitable exploitation of psychological warfare, and the secretary advocated quality rather than quantity in producing leaflets and radio broadcasts. In spring 1951, strategic plans were under way to double an effort of about 13 million propaganda leaflets a week and to augment thirteen hours of daily radio broadcasts in Korean by adding short-wave broadcasts in Chinese to Chinese troops in Korea and Manchuria. Aircraft by then were flying leaflet missions nearly every day of the week. Leaflets and loudspeakers were credited as a factor in a heavy increase in prisoners as the Korean War moved into its second year. Pace considered psywar as the cheapest form of warfare, and Ridgway, when he moved into charge in Tokyo of the Far East command, wanted personnel of integrity and intellectual capacity for a psywar planning group.
In the first six months of the war the Allies produced about 10 leaflets in order to
meet special needs or situations. The
Leaflet 8007 depicts a sad Chinese wife at home with her children wondering where her husband is, and if he is alive or dead. Some of the text is:
For what are you fighting in
Do you know you are falling victim to our guns and dying for nothing?
It has been a long time since you parted from your beloved family, wife and children.
Dont you know how poorly they are situated, verging on starvation and trembling with cold and fear?
Hurry, go back home! Or come over to the U.N. Forces and
. Then you shall be sent home without fear of your life. Republicof Korea Forces
Leaflet 8008 depicts North Korean leader Kim Il Sung being fed by a Chinese soldier dressed in the traditional padded jacket while a starving Chinese woman and her four children beg for food. The back is all text:
You are good people of
who love peace and independence. Surely you wish to do your best for China . China
What are you fighting for in
Do you respect Mao Tse Tung and Kim Il Sung when they make a scapegoat of you and endanger your life for nothing?
Isn't your family on the verge of starvation, and trembling from cold and fear?
Hurry. Go home to take care of them or come over to the United Nations forces and
forces. Then you will be sent home without fear for your life. Republicof Korea
800,000 copies of all-text leaflet 8003 were printed overnight on the order of Lieutenant General Walton H. Walker, Commander of all the United NationsGround Forces. Some of the text is:
Officers and Men of the Army of the
Since the first onslaught of the enemy of 25 June, you have been continually in battle. You have met many disappointments and military reversals forced on you by the overwhelming odds of a ruthless foe...It is my belief that the overextended enemy is making his last attack while the forces of the United Nations are becoming stronger each day Let us tear him apart now so that the road to victory will be that much nearer and quicker.
Leaflet 8002 is all-text and addressed, Attention Soldiers of
The odds are against you! Time is running out! You are fighting against superior forces. More and more artillery is arriving every day ready to go into action. More powerful ammunition is arriving every day Life or death is your choice Surrender and your life is safe.
800,000 copies of leaflet 8004 asked Korean soldiers to fight harder and civilians to stay loyal to the government. They were printed and dropped on the same day. The title of the leaflet is "Continue the War Effort." The all-text leaflet says in part:
UN Forces have landed in
. Already our troops have severed the enemys main communications and transportation lines from the north The battle must go on until every Communist soldier has surrendered or been killed Officers and men: Redouble your efforts. Advance. Attack the enemy where you find him and destroy him. Civilians work hard in support of your Army and you government. Inchon
Leaflet 8005 was printed in
The ROK Marine Corps offers you an opportunity to change your mind instead of fighting to a useless death...While you wander through the cold and frosty night of winter, your parents and family are gathered in warm rooms wondering where you are. Do not fail to take advantage of this final offer. Anyone who comes in with this leaflet is assured of protection.
300,000 leaflets coded 8006 were to be printed in Hanhung, Korea, asking Korean civilians to stay off the roads during a U.N. retreat, but they lost power due to the intense fighting and as a result, only 18,000 were printed by a hand press. The leaflet is all-text and says in part:
Return to your homes immediately and stay there for your own safety and protection. Do not approach roads and trails being used by UN forces. Do not obstruct the movement of UN forces. UN forces will not be responsible for the consequences if the above are violated. Any violation of these orders will endanger your life.
The message of Leaflet 8006 sounds good until you realize that thousands of
civilians wanted to flee south to avoid the tyranny of the returning Communist forces.
Many were probably willing to risk the consequences in an attempt to reach the
safety of the
Leaflets 8007 and 8008 were a special request by the ROK Department of Defense urging the Chinese to quit the war. About 500,000 copies of leaflet 8007 were disseminated over the enemy.
Leaflet 8009 was the last of the special need leaflets, produced in late December of
1950 urging Korean civilians not to cross the
Troops will fire on anyone attempting to cross
Another early leaflet was prepared by the 24th Infantry Division G-2 by mimeograph
machine and allowed the division to make contact with the 19th Infantry Regiment in
Chiampo. These leaflets are fairly crude and it is clear that they were produced quickly
on an emergency basis. The leaflets produced in
A General MacArthur Safe Conduct Pass
The first theme is surrender and receive good food, humane treatment, medical care and shelter from the dangers of war. Safe conduct and surrender passes are always among the most disseminated in every war. General Douglas MacArthur was the Command-in-Chief of all military operations in Korea and his signature appears on many safe conduct passes. Several have the identical front as shown above, but with different messages on the back in either the Korean or Chinese languages. The text on this standard leaflet is, "SAFE CONDUCT PASS. 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 MacArthurs WWII safe conduct passes to the Japanese, nowhere does this leaflet mention the word "surrender." The communists do not surrender, they simply "cease fighting." A fine point of "face" to the Asian mind.
Carl Berger mentions the passierschein in his report: An Introduction to Wartime Leaflets, written under contract to the U.S. Army in 1959:
During the Korean conflict a half-dozen different versions of a U.N. and Eighth Army Safe Conduct Pass made their appearance, producing in at least one case a distressing situation for a Chinese Communist soldier who finally surrendered. When this man finally got up his courage and slipped over to U.N. lines, he had several copies of the various passes on his person. He told U.N. interrogators that he had postponed surrendering for fear that the latest edition would be required, an item he thought might not be in his collection.
The typical U.N. Safe Conduct was written in two languages, Korean and English, or Chinese and English, and usually carried the signature of the United Nations Commander, General Douglas MacArthur or his successor, General Matthew Ridgway. The Eighth Army also issued its own distinctive "Official Safe Conduct Pass," signed by General James Van Fleet. The typical U.N. “how to surrender” instructions, given in the Safe Conducts, read as follows:
WHEN YOU COME OVER TO THE U. N. FORCES, IT
IS IMPORTANT TO FOLLOW THESE STEPS.
1. Wait for a favorable time to escape secretly from your unit.
2. Destroy or bury your weapons.
3. Make your way to the nearest UN Forces during daylight hours only.
4. Come down an open road in single file, with both hands raised above your head.
5. Bring your wounded brothers with you.
Surrender passes were dropped all through the war. They were quite effective. Even
as the North Koreans advanced in July and August of 1950, many used the passes to come
over to the UN side. There was a sharp rise in surrenders when the North Koreans were
stalled on the Taegu-Pusan perimeter, and even more after MacArthurs
Another General MacArthur Safe Conduct Pass
Another MacArthur surrender pass bears the United Nations seal at the top. The leaflet is colored in a prominent red and black and should stand out on a snowy Korean hillside. The text in English, Korean and Chinese is:
ATTENTION ALL SOLDIERS OF THE UNITED NATION FORCES
This leaflet guarantees humane treatment to any North Korean desiring to cease fighting. Take this man to your nearest commissioned officer at once. Treat him as an honorable prisoner of war.
By command of General MacArthur.
A third General MacArthur safe conduct pass coded 1018 bears the U.N. flag at the top and a certificate insuring safe conduct and signed by MacArthur at the bottom. Some of the text is:
Dear North Korean Soldier,
This pass guarantees your safety as a prisoner of war. Come to our side and you will be safe. We welcome you and will give you food and medical care. Once the war is over, we guarantee your safe passage back home.
General of the Army,
Commander in Chief United Nations Forces
The leaflet explains to the North Korean soldiers exactly how they are to surrender. It gives them four rules to follow:
A General Ridgway Safe Conduct Pass
General Ridgway signed another leaflet similar in appearance to the MacArthur safe conduct pass. This leaflet has the same message in English Chinese and Korean. The text is:
SAFE CONDUCT PASS.
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.
General Matthew B. Ridgway was enthusiastic about psychological warfare and frequently passed along suggestions to the psychological warfare department for consideration. He once suggested he would prefer greater use of art on leaflets, especially those depicting to the enemy the horrors of their comrades deaths on the battlefields. PSYOP theory is not to use pictures of dead or horrible disfigured enemy because it aggravates them and sometimes make them fight more fiercely, but General Ridgway knew what he wanted. As an example, Ridgway once recommended a message, disseminated by artillery and aircraft which broke every rule of PSYOP messaging:
Comrades! Soldiers of the North Korean Army! U.N. airplanes are overhead prepared to strike your positions. They are loaded with rockets, napalm and machineguns. U.N. artillery is aiming at you. At my command they will bring you death. You have seen your positions littered with the burned, blackened, and shattered bodies of your buddies after our planes and artillery come down upon you. You have seen your buddies with their clothes and bodies blown limb from limb by our shells. Even if you are not hit directly, your nose and ears will bleed, your eardrums will be broken, your organs deranged, and your minds will cease to function. . . . Raise both hands high over your head and walk in the open toward U.N. lines. You are guaranteed good treatment. Act now. You have five minutes.
Another safe conduct pass signed by Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgway is coded 7045. The text on the front is in Chinese and Korean. The Chinese text is:
Guaranteed Safety Ticket
The above text in English is the Allied Army Commander Ridgways signature. Commander Ridgway ordered the Allied soldiers to welcome and protect you. We ask you to stop fighting immediately and then you will be well treated. The writing to the left is Commander Ridgways translation in Korean.
The back depicts three photographs of happy prisoners-of-war. Their eyes have been blocked out so they cannot be identified and their families placed in jeopardy. Hiding the faces of prisoners is always a two-edged sword because the enemy can claim that they were not truly Chinese. The Chinese text is:
A Wise Chinese Soldiers Story
I ran as fast as I could to the Allied army side after I was wounded. The friendly Americans immediately gave me medical aid.
I was then quickly moved to a medical hospital. I got the best treatment and medicines in the hospital. I quickly got well.
My partner and I eat together, wear clean clothes and live in a nice house.
Their eyes were covered because we have to protect their familys safety.
A General Van Fleet Safe Conduct Pass
The safe conduct pass was produced late in the war for the Chinese as you can see by the code number, EUSAK 8854 Chinese. It is one of the few that actually called itself Official. The same message appears on the back of the leaflet in Chinese. The text is:
EIGHTH UNITED STATES ARMY
OFFICIAL EIGHTH ARMY SURRENDER PASS
It is hereby ordered that accommodations and good treatment be given to the bearer of this certificate and his followers.
The have voluntarily disarmed themselves, ceased resistance, and surrender to the UN forces in accordance with proper procedure.
JAMES A. VAN FLEET
Another 8th Army Safe Conduct Pass
This is one of the strangest leaflets I have seen. The code is all wrong; 615130 is not a standard U.N. code, all of which had a maximum of four digits. At the top, instead of an Eighth Army insignia, we see a red star which would seem to imply it is Communist. Blue doves of peace are at each upper corner. The text even sounds Communist. Who else uses a term like warmongers? The text is Korean on one side and English on the other. I suspect this was designed by the South Koreans and dropped by U.N. aircraft. Some of the text is:
Officers and Men of the CCF, NKPA, & 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 How can I help stop this death and destruction Surrender Go home?
One would almost think this is a black Communist leaflet pretending to be from the Allies. The text is such that I assume it must be from the U.N. forces, but it certainly is extraordinary.
Which came First?
Years after I wrote the above, about the Eighth Army leaflet I saw this second leaflet. This is clearly a Communist leaflet so we must ask again, was the first leaflet a parody of some kind. We do not see the other side. Or did one side copy the other’s leaflet by simply turning the wording all around. I have not a clue. I ended the first part by saying this leaflet was extraordinary. I now double that to extra extraordinary.
The above safe conduct pass is particularly interesting, because it is actually depicted on another leaflet that tells the Chinese how to defect. The leaflet was printed by the 1st Radio Broadcast and Leaflet group on 24 November 1951. The four panels on the front show Chinese soldiers finding the United Nations leaflet, crawling away from their own lines, surrendering to an American soldier and then enjoying food, tobacco and medical care in a POW camp. The text is:
Read U.N. leaflets and talk them over with your trusted friends.
When you decide to escape from the Communists, leave at night.
The U.N. troops will treat you well.
Safe, you will enjoy good food, good treatment and prompt medical care.
The back bears a safe conduct pass written in Chinese, Korean and English addressed to the Officers and Men of the Chinese Army. It says in part:
The real Chinese heroes are those who have gone over to the United Nations lines. They prefer life to death because they know that they can best serve China alive.
A word about surrender leaflets. Most of the 8600 leaflet series were produced by the Eighth U.S. Army in Korea (EUSAK) in mid-1952 and asked the Chinese to surrender. For example about a dozen are titled Escape Route and tell the Chinese how to defect. Other leaflets show the hammer and sickle on the back of Chinese soldiers like vermin, Chinese soldiers shaking hands with American soldiers, or with the greeting Welcome. Others ask the Chinese to Think or assure them of good treatment if they surrender.
Leaflet 8639A is something very different. It depicts a Chinese soldier surrendering but was apparently made for Allied forces because it explains in English what the leaflet means and asks the readers to learn the term Tow Shong which the Chinese will say and, Hahng Pok Hahmnida which the North Koreans will say. This is the kind of leaflet we seldom see, meant to be read by the Americans and British and telling them what the Allies are promising and explaining how they should act.
A General Van Fleet Banknote Safe Conduct Pass (Chinese)
This signed General Van Fleet safe conduct pass was produced in the form of a banknote
by the Psychological Warfare Section (PWS) of the Eighth
Good care guaranteed by the
It was not only the American generals who signed safe conduct passes. The above surrender pass is signed by Chung Il Kwon, who became a national hero at the age of 32 while commanding Korean forces at the start of the Korean War in 1950. During periods of the fiercest fighting with North Korean and Chinese forces, General Chung served as a tactical commander of his country's forces. As a major general, he led South Korean units during the landing of United Nations forces at Inchon. He left the army in 1957 as a four-star general and served for 20 years in high positions in the South Korean Government. He was the Prime Minister in 1964, during a period of sustained economic growth. This leaflet targets guerrilla troops in the southwest. The Korean designation is KA-K-4. The front depicts General Kwon and says in part:
Officers and soldiers of the North Korean Army:
In accordance with the provisions of international law you are ordered to give humane treatment to any partisan desiring to cease fighting and especially to do your best in furnishing food and medical care....
Chung Il Kwon,
Lieutenant general of the Republic of Korea Army,
The back depicts a guerrilla surrendering and says in part:
This partisan was smart to surrender. He washed his hands of the life of a hunted wild animal and chose freedom. Now he is cared for by the United Nations and Republic of Korea armies along with many of his former comrades. He is receiving square meals, clean clothing and good medical care. Turn in your weapons immediately to the Republic of Korea Army or National Police. Show this certificate and start new life.
During the war Kwon signed a number of safe conduct passes such as 8116, 8121, 8124 and 8516 among others.
The above EUSAK leaflet was coded 8124 by the UN forces and KA-E-18 by the Koreans. The front depicts enemy soldiers being bombed and enemy POWs living a happy life in captivity. The back shows the signature (chop) of the General and both Korean and Chinese text. It says in part:
To the men of North Korea: Who, with dauntless bravery, hurled their bodies against a solid wall of flaming steel. We honor you for your courage. Such bravery in a hopeless cause, deserves to share in the fruits of victory and truth...In accordance with the provisions of international law you are ordered to give humane treatment to any enemy soldier desiring to cease fighting Chung Il Kwon, Lieutenant general, Commander in Chief, Korea.
One theme that is not mentioned but that is very interesting is the traditional
friendship between the
IN THE TIME OF FLOOD...
....AND DURING WORLD WAR TWO...
....CHINESE AND AMERICANS WORKED SIDE BY SIDE AS BROTHERS.
The back is all text:
suffered flood and famine, the American people sent food and medical aid. China
During World War Two Chinese and Americans joined hand in hand to fight aggression.
There has always been true friendship between the Chinese and American people.
The Americans and other peoples of the United Nations forces are friends of
. They have no wish to kill the Chinese people. China
It is only the Chinese political officers who try to deceive you.
HOW LONG WILL YOU LET THE COMMUNIST POLITICAL OFFICERS TURN BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER?
Leaflet # 7126 - Korean family leaflet
The second theme is surrender and you will stay alive to return to your home after the UN forces win the war. Leaflet coded 7126 shows a Korean family waiting and wondering if their son, husband, father will ever return home alive.
"The UN troops treat them good." - 7211
This leaflet shows a happy Chinese soldier and depicts the life of a smiling prisoner of war on the front. The text is:
UN troops treat them good.
The back of the leaflet teaches the enemy soldier how to defect. There are five cartoon panels and in the first he finds a leaflet dropped by a U.N. aircraft. In the following four panels he awaits his chance and then defects.
Chose the Allies. The Allied safe conduct pass really moved me, causing me to flee the terrible life in the Chinese communist army.
1. I was going to flee across the barbed wire so I waited until dark.
2. I then lay concealed in a bomb crater alongside the road and waited until daybreak.
3. At dawn I saw two allied soldiers so I raised both hands up high, stood up and shouted.
4. In the allied reception camp I am treated really well.
This leaflet has the same theme as the leaflet above; how to safely defect to the Allies. On the front it depicts a Chinese soldier holding a leaflet surrendering to a U.N. soldier. The text is:
You too can come over here to the Allied side and receive the Free Worlds good treatment and safety!
Once again the back depicts five cartoon panels where the Chinese soldier follows the leaflet instructions and waits until early in the morning to slip over to the U.N. side. In Korean it says:
This is a leaflet directed at Chinese Communist soldiers; if you find it please pass it on to them.
The defector explains:
I hated the Communist Party and the war, so I decided to escape. This is the story of my escape.
1. I manned a telephone at company headquarters, sending out sentries near the front lines.
2. The sentries ordinarily changed shifts at 0400 in the morning. Early one morning at 0300, the sentry squad phoned me asking for the time.
3. It clearly was only 0300, but I told them it was already 0400. Therefore, the squad of sentries returned an hour early.
4. Taking advantage of the time that there were no sentries on the lookout, I fled toward the Allied lines.
5. Just after daybreak I saw an Allied soldier, threw down my weapon, held both hands up high and said Hello! The Allied soldier welcomed me, gave me some hot food and brought me to a safe place.
Use your brain. You too can do the same and flee over here to the Allied side and receive safety and good treatment.
Inferior Equipment -1276
The third theme is the superior equipment of the UN Command. Leaflet 1276 is entitled "Inferior Equipment" and dated 2 February 1953. It is targeted at the North Korean Army and civilians. The front depicts a 76.2mm divisional gun, M1902/30, labelled "The North Korean Army has this." The second gun is a modern 152mm howitzer M1943, labelled "The Chinese Army has this." The text is, "The North Korean Army weapons are inferior to the Chinese Army weapons." The back has a sketch of Mao eating rice labelled "Korea." The text is, "The Chinese give inferior weapons to the North Korean Army and keeps the best weapons for itself. Why? To keep North Korea weak, so China can swallow Korea like so much rice. North Korean people! Now you know why the Chinese Army gives the North Korean Army its inferior weapons! The Chinese Army is your real enemy!"
The black and red leaflet 7079 is targeted at the Chinese Army and the theme is to accentuate the enemy's fear of U.N. artillery. The front depicts a single Chinese soldier in the center of a giant target. The leaflet was disseminated on 24 August 1951. The text is:
DEATH IS COMING!
The back depicts a large hole in the ground caused by an artillery explosion:
Death that comes at you continually. It comes with the sun. It comes with the rain. It seeks you out in the night.
THE SWIFT AND DEADLY ARTILLERY SHELL.
It will soon find you with its purr of death and will kill you as it has killed so many of your comrades. How many artillery shells did you hear yesterday? Will you live to hear them again tomorrow? Death is coming, soldier.
Death is coming - UNLESS YOU COME OVER TO THE UN FORCES WHO ASSURE YOU OF GOOD TREATMENT, GOOD FOOD AND SWIFT MEDICAL ATTENTION.
As I said earlier, leaflets in the 6000 series were 4x5-inch reduced-size Chinese-language anti-morale leaflets, suitable for artillery dissemination. The next three are both smaller leaflets with a crude cartoon image and a simple message for the Chinese soldier, you are being betrayed by your officers.
A rather crude leaflet depicting a Chinese soldier with his bayonet up against the chest of his officer. The text on the front says:
Recognize exactly who your true enemy is
Chinese Soldier - Chinese Communist Troop Officer
The back is all text:
Your Chinese Communist troop officers are your true enemies. They force you to take part in the Korean War because of the USSR’s Communist Party and are letting you die in vain. They have been deceiving you and restricting your freedom.
Turn the muzzle of your gun toward your officers and shoot them. As soon as you have successfully done this, run to the United Nations forces side and surrender. We will guarantee the safety of your life. We will never inflict any pain or suffering on you. We will treat you well.
My original notes on leaflet 6004 written decades ago was: “UN aircraft bombs Chinese soldiers, many dead on the ground. ‘Where did your officers run away and disappear to?’ The text claims that Chinese officers always run away from bombings.”
This leaflet seems to be drawn by the same artist who drew 6004. The front depicts dead Chinese troops everywhere and not an officer to be seen. The text is:
Where did your officers run away and disappear to?
The back is all text:
Your companions-in-arms who were taken prisoner after being wounded, always said, “Whenever we were attacked, bombed and machinegunned by aircraft, there were no officers who remained with us at our position. They all ran away from our position leaving us behind and always disappeared without fail.”
Where had they run away to and disappeared? Why are we expected to obey the orders of our officers who run away and disappear leaving us behind? Why are we needed to fight on the battlefields of Korea for sake of ghosts who run away and hide?
Your cowardly officers run away and hide leaving you to behind with no thought of your safety. Why do you need to fight on the battlefields of Korea and die?
It wasnt only death by artillery that the communists feared. Their morale could
also be attacked using the theme of death from aircraft. This leaflet depicts a diving
WHERE IS THE COMMUNIST AIR FORCE?
Day and night United Nations aircraft sweep the skies of
. They search in vain for the Communist Air Force, but find the skies as empty as the promises of your leaders. North Korea
The few Communist aircraft that dare to raise their wings flee from the UN challenge as a chicken before a hawk.
Why? Why? Why?
Because your leaders feed you with false promises. They have promised you air support at the front, but you stand alone, unaided. You know it is true. Your own eyes tell you that the UN controls the skies. Your eyes do not deceive you as do your leaders.
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
Recently Eighth Army in
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. Korea
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.
Major Albert C. Brauer mentioned this leaflet in an article titled Psychological Warfare Korea 1951:
One more example of the use of an illustration suitable for Americans but too subtle for the Oriental. The simple Communist soldier trying to figure this one out probably thought we were crazy trying to make him believe in a half bird and plane creature. This leaflet was one of the first prepared by my replacement. The illustration had appeared on the cover of Time and the Chief of the Psychological Warfare section thought it a sure thing. The leaflet was not tested on POWs nor was the Chinese on staff consulted. I volunteered my thought that it was of questionable value. One year later when I revisited Korea my replacement admitted that enemy reaction to it had been negative.
Another leaflet that used the same theme is coded 1206 and dated 10 July 1952. It depicts an explosion caused by aerial bombing. It was part of the campaign named Plan Strike. To the right of the explosion is:
You were warned!
The back is all text except for the top where a pair of hands is depicted manacled between two hammer and sickles. Some of the text is:
COMMUNIST MILITARY TARGETS DESTROYED
The United Nations Command warned you that targets in this area would be destroyed.
Many of them have been destroyed. Others will continue to be destroyed
Where is the Communist Air Force?
Did the rulers send their airplanes to protect you? Or, is their talk of an air force just so much wind?
Here is another warning. Some of the bombs dropped in the raid will not explode immediately. They are set to go off hours and days later.
Do not go near the danger area. You will only risk your life.
As the war went on, more and more leaflets used the theme of Allied air power and the futility of trying to win the war when opposed by UN air supremacy.