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Kill 'em All': The American Military in Korea
By Jeremy Williams
In September 1999 an investigative team from the Associated Press broke a story that shocked America. Fifty years before, they claimed, refugees caught up in the Korean War were shot and strafed by US forces. Jeremy Williams explores the repercussions of a brutal episode in Cold War history.
The Forgotten War
The Korean War was a bloody conflict. It left Korea, North and South, with several million dead and the UN forces involved in the fighting with over 100,000 casualties. But despite fighting as intense and as violent as any other conflict since World War Two, Korea has always been history's 'Forgotten War'.
'...US commanders repeatedly, and without ambiguity, ordered forces under their control to target and kill Korean refugees caught on the battlefield.'
While atrocities conducted both by North and South Korean forces have already been documented, recently a much darker side to the US involvement in the Korean War has begun to emerge. It casts a shadow over the conduct of US forces during the conflict, particularly of officers and generals in command. Declassified military documents recently found in the US National Archives show clearly how US commanders repeatedly, and without ambiguity, ordered forces under their control to target and kill Korean refugees caught on the battlefield. More disturbing still have been the published testimonies of Korean survivors who recall such killings, and the frank accounts of those American veterans brave enough to admit involvement.
The Korean War began on 25 June 1950 when communist North Korea invaded the South with six army divisions. These North Korean forces, backed by impressive Soviet equipment including tanks, made quick gains into the territory. The United States decided to intervene in the defence of the South and, taking advantage of the Soviet absence from the UN Security Council, proceeded to press for UN resolutions condemning the invasion. Days later a resolution was passed calling upon member countries to give assistance to South Korea to repulse the attack. General Douglas MacArthur, then in charge of US forces in the Pacific and of the occupation of Japan, was appointed commander of the joint forces.
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