COMMUNIST KOREAN WAR LEAFLETS
SGM HERBERT A. FRIEDMAN (Ret.)
Note: This article has been reproduced in part by the Singapore Ministry of Education as a reference document in their curriculum package to be used in the study of the Korean War by their students. In May 2018, images from this article were used in a book and a set of CDs on the music of the Korean War entitled "Battleground Korea: Songs and Sounds of Americans Forgotten War." In March 2019, we approved a request to use images from this article in retired Republic of Koreas Colonel Youn-Son Chung book "The Korean War and American Novels." In 2019 the University of Cambridge Assessment International Education used this article in one of their Examination Papers.In 2020, the British Historical Association requested the use of images from this article for a publication on the Korean War for A Level students analyzing Britains role in the war.
Believe it or not, these are POWs
During the Korean War, (1950-1953), the North Koreans and their Chinese "volunteer" comrades produced and disseminated a great number of psychological warfare leaflets with propaganda text attacking both South Korea and its allies. America was a prime target. Numerous leaflets depicted the problems of American minorities back in the United States (this was also a ploy used by the National Liberation Front a decade later in Vietnam). Other leaflets told the Americans of the good treatment they would receive in a North Korean prison camp. In general, the quality of the leaflet, the inarticulate language used, and the political rhetoric made most of the leaflets laughable and unsuccessful.
Captain Jeremy S. Mushtare wrote his Naval Postgraduate school thesis entitled PSYOP in Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations: Preparing for Korean Reunification in 2005. He says about Communist propaganda during the Korean War:
Psychological warfare played a central and significant role in communist North Koreas war fighting strategies during the Korean War. Their propaganda machine actively targeted a host of varied audiences including their own civilians and military. Many of their propaganda operations adapted Stalinist or Maoist practices, while others were even modeled on U.S. concepts. These imitations and the heavy measures that the North Koreans undertook psychologically to inoculate their forces, betrayed the communist fears of the threat posed by credible U.S. PSYWAR.
Similar to the message dissemination techniques that were utilized against them, the communists likewise conducted leaflet operations, radio broadcasts, and loudspeaker operations. However, they further expanded their propaganda activities to include agitation and the massive use of communist workers to blend propaganda with organizational structure.
The North Korean propaganda activities were fully coordinated with their invasion force as it attacked into South Korea. Their preparation was underscored by a broadcast disseminated to the North Korean populace by the DPRK Department of the Interior on 25 June 1950:
The South Korean puppet national defense army suddenly attacked North Korea at the 38th parallel, in the early morning of June 25. The enemy attacked at three points (names of the places omitted here) and advanced from one to two miles. The Department of the Interior of the Democratic Peoples Republic has ordered its police forces to beat off the invading forces. At present, the Republics police guard is resisting the enemy, and a severe defensive war is in progress.
The communists directed propaganda against their own soldiers to mitigate the effects of any U.S. PSYWAR products that might reach them. North Korean soldiers were routinely indoctrinated before impending contact with enemy forces. Each North Korean Army (NKA) division had a cultural section that was comprised of approximately 250 personnel whose responsibilities included assurance of the political indoctrination of communist units.206 These cultural sections claimed that U.S. forces invariably executed any prisoners of war.
Reports told of lectures and mass rallies being held to indoctrinate enemy soldiers against the leaflets. Soldiers were being threatened with reprisals against their families if they should surrender. Troops were exhorted to commit suicide rather than face torture and execution by United Nations forces. They were reminded that they would be shot by their own security troops if they should attempt surrender.
Themes alleging the barbarity of U.S. soldiers were common as were claims of the chemical-biological contamination of U.S. leaflets. This was a preemptive effort by the communists to stop their soldiers from picking up the leaflets, thereby preventing the U.S. message from even being read. Leaflets that depicted the guaranteed medical care and humane treatment granted to U.S. enemy prisoners of war (EPWs) as a compelling reason for surrender were twisted by the communists as examples of the horrible atrocities of U.S. germ warfare experimentation. Black bars were routinely printed over EPW faces in the U.S. leaflet pictures to protect their identities. However, this practice was discontinued after repeated claims by the communists that such alterations were necessary to conceal the disfigurements that resulted from the gross human experimentation that was conducted on United States held prisoners of war.
Since we mention the North Korean promises of good treatment, note that this leaflet coded 196 says in part:
It is widely known by now that the Korean Peoples Army and the Chinese Peoples
Volunteers are generous to prisoners of war. The photo on top gives you an idea of
How good POWs life is
The back is all text that says in part:
You are simply victims who have unfortunately been duped into fighting. So it is quite natural that, once you lay down your arms, we give you generous treatment.
A John Hopkins University 1951 "Operations Research Office" paper on North Korean propaganda says:
As is to be expected, the North Korean propaganda machine follows closely the pattern of the Soviets, where propaganda is a function of the government and is a component part of the government organization of the state. Being a function of the Communist Party, the Party alone determines and controls the propaganda, even exercising this civilian control over army-conducted psychological warfare activities. Intelligence reports that North Korean consolidation propaganda, though conducted by the military to a large extent, is totally subject to control by the Party Committee in each province or town. Only in straight combat propaganda both the enemy soldiers and enemy population does the North Korean military propaganda apparatus exercise its own discretion in the implementation of Party policies. The Party alone, however, controls the domestic propaganda output, even by the Peoples Army to its own soldiers Note: Propaganda to the non-Korean elements of the UN forces by the North Korean is in the hands of a specially constituted sub-organization of the Partys Central Committee, which maintains its own facilities for the implementation of the central policy.
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
The conduct of psywar by the enemy has been marked by his usual highly professional skill in revolutionary propaganda and agitation. 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. The enemy uses radio fairly heavily, speaking in Korean to both North and South Koreans. Forty six different enemy leaflets for military propaganda have been found in the first six months of the war.
Stephen E. Pease lists five themes of the North Korean propaganda in Psywar Psychological Warfare in Korea 1950-1953, Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA, 1992. He first says concerning the North Korean occupation of South Korea:
Every aspect of the (Communist) consolidation program must be supported with a planned and deliberate PSYWAR program. Propaganda must reflect long-range objectives and avoid easy short-range objectives if they differ from the long-range plan.
He then lists five major propaganda themes aimed at the South Koreans, "The emancipation of women, the emancipation of labor from capitalism, a youth program, redistribution of land, and nationalism and the Communist ideal." Other themes aimed at the Americans included the profits made by big business while the soldier fought at the front, the loneliness of the soldiers wife and children, questions about why the Americans were fighting in a Korean civil war, claims that South Korea and the United States instigated the war, alleged letters to family members found on the bodies of dead GIs, Korea for the Koreans, and even various types of Christmas cards and greetings.
Chung Yong Wook discusses Communist themes in Leaflets, and the nature of the Korean War as Psychological Warfare, The Review of Korean Studies, Vol. 17, No. 3, 2004:
A United States Information Agency report titled North Korean Propaganda: Themes and Tactics dated March 1966 lists four major themes utilized by Pyongyang’s anti-American campaign:
Stanley Sandler discusses the Communist leaflets in Cease Resistance: Its Good for You: A History of U.S. Army Combat Psychological Operations. He says:
The enemy's leaflets ranged from the professional to the pathetic, although they were usually superior to their loudspeaker messages. Lacking air power, these leaflets were often distributed by farmers or even small boys carrying their propaganda in nondescript sacks, although the excellent Communist mortar leaflet shells were occasionally employed for short-range delivery.
Looking through my reference material I find that Peter Robbs wrote one of the very early reports on the number of Communist leaflets in The Falling Leaf, the journal of the Psywar Society, in issue number two, dated April 1958. Robbs records the titles of 59 different leaflets that he has seen, including: Its money or your life; Old soldiers never die but young ones do and Death in vain on T-Bone Hill. He adds:
The number and variety of enemy leaflets to American and British troops is much greater than commonly believed In addition, great numbers were addressed to the Republic of Korea forces and occasional disseminations made to troops from Puerto Rico, Turkey, etc.
The North Koreans also used the radio as a media of propaganda. Pease mentions that they disguised their war plans by calling for open elections in Korea a week before they invaded the South. During the war, they constantly called for peace talks in an attempt to confuse the United Nations Command. They broadcast reports of imaginary victories on the land and in the air. In February 1952, the North Koreans started a radio and newspaper campaign claiming that the United Nations Forces were using germ warfare. The claims were obvious fabrications, but some third-world countries gave them limited credence.
Former Air Force Lieutenant John Martin Campbell's book, Slinging
the Bull in Korea,
Fifteen hundred Chinese troops had been reported to be seriously affected by
disease in the areas of
The North Koreans even propagandized their own troops. Korean Lieutenant No Kum-Sok, who would later fly to the west with his MiG-15 fighter, told me how he heard about the war:
Sunday, June 25, 1950, is a day I can never forget. It was the day that the North Korean Peoples Army invaded South Korea at 0400. I was at North Korean Naval Academy. We were taken to a mountain on that fateful day and had several hours of infantry combat training by crawling on rough mountain terrain with the heavy type A Russian rifle. As an ardent anti-Communist, I hated being in the communist military academy. Once enrolled, there is no way to resign. Resignation is considered treason.
After we returned from the mountain, soaking wet with sweat, we lined up in front of the mess-hall. A serious looking political officer stood in front of us and reported the outbreak of the war. He said South Korean troops had invaded all along the north of the 38th Parallel and advanced 2 to 4 kilometers early that morning. The North Korean Peoples Army counterattacked the invaders and advanced 40 to 50 kilometers south of the border by noon. The fighting was continuing and the enemy troops were retreating in disarray.
I could not believe that the weak South Korean Army had started the war and was being defeated so badly. I began to wonder who really started the war. North Korean daily propaganda has repeated ever since that South Korea invaded North Korea by the order of the United States. Even today, all North Koreans believe that South Korea invaded North Korea.
On 13 August 1950 Sue announced that USS Sicily with its Black Sheep
squadron of Marines would be wiped out to avenge the people of Free
A retired Marine officer told me that after the 1st
She announced that the 5th Marines were mustering in a telephone booth. Sad thing, she was a hell of a lot more correct than I'd guess she dreamed of being.
Time of 21 August 1950 mentioned that U.S. 1st Cavalry troops near the Naktong River listened to a North Korean station and heard the brassy blare of a John Philip Sousa march:
It was followed by the honeyed words (in English) of a woman announcer, urging the boys to "go back home to your corner drugstores" and boasting of fantastic North Korean successes, Already there are 6,000
dead A veteran master sergeant complained: Hell, U.S. Rose used to entertain you. This babe's just a bore. Now if she'd only play some Benny Goodman or something like that, she'd get some listeners. Tokyo
On another occasion Sue announced that
Sue was also mentioned in an Air Force drinking song sung to the music of Im Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover. The 317th Fighter Interceptor Squadron Songbook lists the chorus of the song as:
Seoul City Sue, Seoul City Sue,
Your hair is black, your eyes are too
I'd swap my honey cart for you.
Seoul City Sue, Seoul City Sue,
No one smells of Kimchie,
Like my sweet
Sue was also mentioned by Corporal Radar OReilly in one episode of MASH. Radar
mentions that there is nothing on the radio but
A Spanish Language Leaflet to Puerto Ricans in the American Forces
The leaflet above coded 203 was written specifically for Puerto Rican soldiers in Spanish and depicts three prisoners; Alfredo Aguirre, Ricardo Deleon and Joe A. Hinojosa happily playing a guitar and singing while in a Communist prisoner of war camp.
The North Korean and Chinese propaganda radio messages were broadcast in English and
Korean while their leaflets were written in English, Korean and Spanish (for American
soldiers of Puerto Rican descent). Sue was not the only female propagandist on the
communist airwaves. There was also
It is interesting to note that the North Koreans still hold to these lies. One North Korean propaganda site on the Internet still says, "In the period from January to March 1952 when they began an all-out germ war the U.S. aggressors dropped various germ bombs a total of 804 times over 169 places in alpine, coastal and mountainous areas of the north. One fourth of the planes involved in air raids on the North Korea participated in the germ war. Some days their number reached 480 planes. The U.S. aggressors brutally killed POWs of the Korean People's Army by using them as guinea pigs for germ weapon experiment. They committed serious crimes to use a chemical weapon. They made 33 poison-gas bomb attacks against various areas of the North Korea from Feb. 27 to Apr. 9, 1952. They used at least 15 million napalm-shells. Their planes dropped even food, leaflets and false money containing poisonous substance. They also unhesitatingly killed POWs of the KPA by using them as guinea pigs for a poisonous substance test. The U.S. aggressors massacred POWs of our side as they pleased during the Korean War in gross violation of the publicly recognized international laws and war law and regulations. They staged such farces as "voluntary repatriation," "private interview and screening" and "petition for release" in a bid to detain POWs of the KPA by force. They mercilessly killed everyone who did not comply with their demands."
Sandler mentions the North Korean use of loudspeakers and their unsophisticated messages: "You have expended all your left-over equipment from World War II. It will start costing you to continue," "You should play it safe and stay inside," and "You are merely tools for capitalist gain." In one case the Communists even used a sexy female voice that said, "Come on over and surrender. I will give you a good time." He quotes one entire loudspeaker script:
Now we can achieve peace even though we are firing at each other. Now is the time to lay down your arms. Your big man, General Clark, and our big man should get together. How can we have peace when your planes and our planes bomb each other? The Chase National Bank had $2,700,000,000 and now has $5,400,000,000. This is an increase of 3 billion dollars. It is a shame to travel 5,000 miles to fight a war, which is not yours. We are spending money; the bigwigs are making it. There should be no more war. Then everyone could go to school and grow up to be an intelligent person.
Mark R. Jacobson mentions a Chinese loudspeaker message in his PhD thesis, Minds
then Hearts: U.S. Political and Psychological Warfare during the Korean War, 2005,
Hello my G.I. friends. Good morning. This is your regular morning broadcast courtesy of the Chinese Peoples Volunteer Army. G.I. friends, this is the dawn of the ten-hundredth and twentieth day of the forgotten war; what your politician chose to call a police action, a minor affair, which has already caused you more casualties than your war of independence. G.I. friends, you want peace. We want peace. We too are young; we too have to leave our homes to fight on foreign soil. Why? Shown your stubborn generals haggling at
Panmunjomthat you will no longer fight for a line on the map. Show them that you want peace just as we want peace. Lay down your arms and we will lay down ours.
Maj. Gen. Raymond E. Mason Jr. writing under the pseudonym Allan Reed Millett mentions Communist Chinese propaganda in his book Their War for Korea: American, Asian, and European Combatants and Civilians, 1945-1953, Brassey's Inc., Dulles VA, 2002. Discussing how the Chinese saw themselves he says:
Gallant if simple peasants and workers of the Renmin Zhiyuanjun (Chinese Peoples Volunteers) endure crushing and cowardly artillery fire and air strikes and close with the Americans (or puppet South Koreans) and win the battle because of their moral superiority. The enemy is craven, eager to surrender, and without honor or unit pride. The common American soldier is a poor white, a Latino, or an African-American slave laborer who has been sent to the war designed by Japanese and American capitalists eager to reestablish the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere and destroy the Chinese revolution. This army of mercenaries and ignorant conscripts cannot stand against the ardor of the Chinese soldier, whose spirit will always prevail over Western firepower.
Locked in battle, the U.N. troops howled like wolves, gibbered like monkeys, bleated like sheep, fought like cornered rats, and died like dogs. Whether the allusions were born in barnyards or astrological calendars, the portrait of the enemy provides not just the obligatory dehumanization, but stresses the fact that Chinese soldiers were stoic comrades who suffered in silence and willingly sacrificed their lives for their squads. In one tale, a Chinese soldier burns to death silently so he will not reveal his squads assault position. The Chinese authors became especially rhapsodic when large, hairy Americans surrendered to gallant Chinese youths half their size.
The mention of Japanese in the propaganda message is interesting. The Communist sometimes used the threat of the hated Japanese in the rumors that they used as a form of propaganda. Jacobson says:
Far East Command found it difficult to quickly counteract significant rumors such as those in December 1950 that MacArthur had landed 250,000 Japanese troops at Inchon to help fight the Chinese Within forty-eight hours a large portion of the Korean population was convinced the rumors were correct .
In general, the Communist propaganda was not very good. The PSYOP commander of the Eighth Army in Korea (EUSAK) stated, "The Communist leaflets were a waste of effort, extravagant and exaggerated. They mirrored a communist picture of America, but not America."
The Army Information Digest of 6 January 1951 quotes what it believes to be the first and possibly only Communist leaflet that was air-dropped in July 1950:
Dear Conscientious officers and sergeants! Do surrender as soon as possible with all the men under your command. Dear Friends! Be relieved and surrender.
One might ask, How do we know about all of these Communist leaflets? The answer is told in the publication Report on the Psychological Warfare conducted by Eighth Army Units in Korea. It says:
Enemy leaflets were generally received by the Intelligence Branch through G2 channels after they had already been analyzed and processed as enemy documents. Two large scrapbooks were maintained, one of enemy leaflets in Korean and one of enemy leaflets in English in which the first copy of a leaflet received was placed. Additional copies were placed in a permanent file or forwarded to Theater Headquarters.
An example of the U.N. troops fighting the war for the profit of American big business is North Korean leaflet number 914155. It depicts GIs looking to walk a path identified as "The way leading to your home." The leaflet pictures two hands. One has the flag of the United States on the sleeve and holds a pistol. The other has a dollar sign on the sleeve and releases more troops into Korea. At the upper left a child asks "Whenll papa be home, mum?" Text at the top of the leaflet is "WHO BLOCK UP THE ROAD FOR YOU TO RETURN TO YOUR DEAR HOME?"
Another example of this theme of profit is in the form of an all-text letter
written by a T. Campbell of
Some of the leaflet text is:
Let the American millionaires and their gangster-politicians do their own fighting.
Son, I hope you are alright. I am glad you are out of danger being a prisoner. The other soldiers are having a rotten time and still there is no sign of the government breaking with
who are the course of all the trouble. They are going to cause a world war and America is just doing what they want them to do. England
Another divide-and-conquer leaflet tells British soldiers that the Americans are taking over their empire, destroying the British economy, favoring the Germans and the Japanese and looking to grab the Middle East. The back of the leaflet says that the Americans are taking over their nation and their homes and depicts anti-American protesters marching in the streets of Britain. Some of the text is:
YOUR COUNTRY IS IN REAL DANGER
The American billionaire who already control most of Canadas industries and raw materials, are now taking over in Australia and New Zealand
The American Ruling Circle
Leaflet 12525 is another with the theme that the rich profit from the Korean War. The leaflet depicts a millionaire holding stacks of banknotes seemingly coming from the barrel of a cannon. The propaganda text is:
Why is the American ruling circle busily expanding armament, disregarding the hardship and misery of the people? It is because their only concern is war and war profits and not peace and peaceful construction.
The back depicts a flood in the United States. Apparently, the Communists hoped that worry about the damage and loss of life would lower American morale.
YOU ARE BEING FORCED...
Another leaflet numbered 615129 depicts U.N. troops squeezed out of a toothpaste tube and into a cannon where they are fired northward, only to leave the barrel as skulls. The text on the front is:
You are being forced to become cannon fodder for the aggression of Korea by Wall Street warmongers. Oppose the aggressive war and surrender to the People’s Army. This only can give you a new life and happiness.
General Political Bureau of the Korean People’s Army.
The back of the leaflet is in blue and written in Korean. It seems to depict a dead Korean wife and baby. The leaflet is coded 615129. At the top of the back the soldier that filed this leaflet has hand-written, “Doc No. 205756.”
An example of a leaflet that lies about both the origin of the war and the air victories of the North Koreans is coded 12528 and depicts U.S. aircraft falling from the sky and crashed on the ground. The text is, "ON 25 June 1950: The US ruling circle thus instigated an aggressive war in an attempt to conquer whole Korea as a stroke." The back of the leaflet continues, "On 25 June 1952: The US ruling circle has lost even the illusion of air superiority like this. The more they try to continue and extend this aggressive war, the longer you will be separated from your loved ones and the harder it will become for you to escape dying for no purpose."
Another leaflet imitated a German WWII campaign that warned of dying in the final days of the war. It showed a clock with the time 11:55 and a dead G.I. The text is "Dont get killed at five to twelve." The message on the back claimed that the Korean and Chinese peoples wanted to end the war but the U.S. Generals kept it going on. It warned the soldier, "Dont be a last-minute sucker!"
The Chinese Communists mention rotation points in this leaflet. The Americans had a formula that allowed a soldier to rotate home after a certain number of points was achieved. Here the Communists remind the soldier that he may never reach that point. Some of the text is:
He waited for rotation, but he died waiting
He had only a few more weeks to go. But he was careless. He stuck his neck out in an attack
Rotation or Runaround?
Another Korean Communist leaflet coded 165 that uses Rotation as a theme for its propaganda. The leaflet shows the gradual rise in points needed before an American soldier can return home. The leaflet concludes:
THATS FIVE TIMES THEYVE SWITCHED THEIR PROMISES TO YOU, SOLDIER.
THINK YOULL EVER GET HOME, OR WILL YOU BE KILLED FIRST?
July 11 Sept. 5
This Communist leaflet coded 104 mentions the casualties during a two month period. 58,900 troops wounded or killed and 414 aircraft lost and 15 tanks destroyed. The leaflet depicts dead troops and weapon systems and above an F-80 is falling from the sky in flames. The back is all text and says in slightly stilted English:
Ridgway is supposed to have agreed to talk peace, but why in hell does he keep you fighting just the same? He doesnt seem to give a damn to your lives! But havent you suffered enough in this mess? Nothing is more outrageous than this which burns one up. Youve got to do something before its too late. To avoid fighting is practical at times. Better still would be to go over to the Koreans and Chinese. That would be your ticket home for sure.
The continuance of the war
Death was a favorite topic of the North Korean leaflets. Another leaflet coded 12625
Depicted an American Army officer ordering his men forward and as they do so they slowly turn into burial crosses. The text in English and Korean is:
The continuance of the war only means death to you!
The back of the leaflet is interesting because it is busy with conflicting colors, an almost looks like one of the post-war leaflets that the Communists produced during the 1960s Cold War. The leaflet depicts a cannon with North Korean flag, an American solider with a money sign on his helmet, and eight smaller drawings. It talks about the cost of the war to the Allies between June 1950 and June 1951. Some of the text is:
[Men] Dead, wounded, captured and surrendered - 325,470
[Ships] Sunk and damaged 84
[Tanks] Seized and destroyed 912
[Aircraft] Shot down and damaged 5,922
WHAT TRUMANS ARMS BUDGET COULD BUY
Another leaflet that talks about the cost of the war is coded 106. I am not sure why the Communists would worry about what Truman could pay for, but it depicts the cost of lost parks, schools, homes and hospital beds. The back of the leaflet is blank.
One leaflet taught the GIs How to surrender. It told them that "Tow shong" meant, "I surrender" and guaranteed good treatment from the Chinese Peoples Volunteer Forces. It copied a photo from Life Magazine showing a soldier kissing his wife goodbye, and added "Leave Korea to the Koreans." This propaganda is similar to the WWII Japanese campaign when they attacked the European colonies and used to theme "Asia for the Asians." The back of the leaflet depicted bodies in a mass open grave and reminded the soldier, " Dont finish like this! Its not your war "
How the Chinese Treated me
Another leaflet that mentions the good treatment that the Chinese provided was allegedly written by Private First Class Henry C. Comer. Comer was wounded and medically treated by the Chinese Peoples Volunteer Forces. The letter is a one-fold 4-page brochure. Comer claims excellent medical treatment, warm clothes and delicious food. He ends with the desire to learn more about the heroic struggle of the people of China and to learn about their new way of life their government. Besides the three printed pages, one page depicts part of his original handwritten letter.
This is an extremely attractive leaflet that contains a letter written by PFC Thomas A. Barnes to his girlfriend back in the United States. It was also broadcast over the Chinese propaganda radio. According to the letter the Chinese are treating him very well and he is quite happy. They even made him a Thanksgiving Day feast with all the trimmings.
The North Koreans attempted to lower the morale of the American troops by printing a leaflet coded 12504 depicting a mother and crying daughter with the text, "Dont let your loved ones mourn for you!" Text on the back was in part, "Why are you here, 5000 miles from your homes, risking your lives, killing Korean men and women even infants who never harmed America or thought of attacking you? Why?"
The theme of a weeping mother is used again in leaflet 182 where a mother is seen crying over the casket of her son. The back is blank. Some of the text is:
A MOTHER WEEPS
Dont spend any more money on me. Dennis Donoghue Jr. told his parents when he dropped out of college. Ill only be drafted and Ill be killed.
He was drafted and he was killed.
Left, his mother weeps over his flag-draped coffin, just returned from Korea to Chicago, while Mr. Donoghue and a friend stand nearby to console her
Loved ones was a reoccurring theme among the Communist leaflets.
The above leaflet that mentions Private First Class Walter C. Monegan Jr. was in the
estate of a female Major who served in the Army Nurse Corps in
The crude leaflet is printed in blue ink and depicts a grieving wife and child below burial crosses. The text is:
For what and for whom are you going to shed your blood in
? Korea delegation is stalling the armistice talks and forcing you to shed more blood!! U.S.
Walter C. Monegan Jr. Marine PFC
If you are killed in action This leaflet can be used as a
to come over to the KPA. [coded] 205/30. Safe Conduct Pass
The back of the leaflet depicts men and women partying while a wife and child wonder about the fate of their Marine. The text is:
the ruling circles, drinking toasts and dancing are making a night of it while you are shedding your blood and falling on the Korean front. Who, then, will mourn your death. No one but your dear wives, children, parents and sweethearts. USA
The North Koreans mention United States Marine PFC Walter Carleton Monegan, Jr. in the above leaflet. Monegan was killed on 20 September 1950 while heroically fighting off an enemy armor attack near Seoul. He was killed after destroying several tanks at close range with his bazooka. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions. On 8 February 1952 his widow was presented with his Medal of Honor. She brought their infant son to the presentation. This is very likely where the North Koreans found his name and perhaps the photograph of the woman and child for their propaganda leaflet.
Why are you Shivering
We depict four or five Communist leaflets in this article that were printed in blue. Here is another one, showing U.S. soldiers freezing in the Korean winter. These are similar to WWII Russian leaflets that showed dead German Wehrmacht soldiers in the snow. This leaflet asks:
Why are you Shivering and Freezing?
This leaflet is coded 109164 on the back and depicts a pretty girl asleep and dreaming of her man at war and another of the soldier with his mother. Some of the odd text is:
WISHES OF YOUR HOME FOLKS WHO ARE LONGING TO SEE YOU
My Dear Son: Are you yet alive? May your life be spared and may you not be maimed. To be killed or maimed means nothing but misfortune upon you and me. Survive and come back to my bosom!
Surrender to the Korean Peoples Army so you can fulfill the wishes of your folks at home!
General Political Bureau of the KPA
The Communists seldom used images like skeletons, although we do show several skulls in this article. This anti-morale leaflet from the General Political Bureau of the Korean Peoples Army depicts a father and mother looking at a skeleton representing their dead son. Some of the text is:
Your loved ones are not expecting you to return in this manner If you want to return home, lay down your arms and surrender to the Peoples Army.
The above bright red leaflet depicts a
When will you be able to see your loved ones at all?
What is interesting about this leaflet is the crinkled appearance. This usually indicates that the leaflet was disseminated by artillery shell. The blast of the shell will burn or singe the leaflet and the shock wave will leave that finely crinkled appearance. The back is all text. Some of the message is:
This is no time for mere thinking!
Quite probably you are thinking about how the home folks are going to pass the holidays and meet the New Year.
You should not allow yourself to sink into meditation on this, but launch a home-coming movement for a quick return to your home.
Use Your Head Soldier
I added this leaflet here because like the previous leaflet, it was printed in red. The front depicts UN soldiers lying dead on the ground while artillery shells arch overhead. It is very similar to WWII German leaflets that showed dead Allied soldiers in barbed wire. The back is all red text and numbered 167. Some of the propaganda message is:
USE YOUR HEAD, SOLDIER!
If you want to keep it!
Associated Press reported from Seoul, October 8:
North Korean artillery fired 39,000 rounds within 24 hours ending 6 oclock October 2. Soldiers were pinned down for long hours in the trenches and bunkers by enemy fire which continued for days and nights
EVERY G.I. THATS BEEN IN BATTLE KNOWS THE SCORE:
Bullets and shells hit everything above ground. Hes smart to get in a hole and stay there
USE YOUR HEAD AND PLAY SAFE!
Leaflet 150 - Today I buried My First Born, My Son
This North Korean leaflet depicts a mother at a gravesite and a newspaper clipping on the front. The leaflet title is:
Today I buried my first born, my son
The newspaper clipping headline is:
Rejects Medal of Son Slain in Needless War
The back is all text:
Mrs. Cooper told a reporter her son was studying to be a Catholic priest when drafted and she added: All countries should be free and at peace with each other. There should be no hatred, whether it be of Communists, colored people or what. There should only be love of man.
Mrs. Cooper wrote her letter almost a year ago. Since then, thousands of other American families have tasted the fruits of this useless, senseless, Korean War WHICH NEED NOT CONTINUE FOR A SINGLE DAY.
70% of the American People - the Gallop Poll reports - want, the
to settle differences through peaceful negotiations. That is what the Korean and Chinese people want too. U.S.
Like the previous leaflet, this one also mentions an American newspaper, the New York Herald Tribune. It claims to show a letter written to the newspaper by a WWII veteran claiming that all the money being wasted on the Korean War could be better spent on building new highways, parks, homes, schools and playgrounds
Another all-text leaflet is titled “PLEASE PRINT THIS: It is allegedly from a Negro preacher and uses race and the treatment of American Negroes in the U.S. as a theme.
Another said, "YOUR FOLKS AT HOME NEED YOU. Your dear mother is filling with tears in her eyes. Your pretty and young wife is going to crazy, for she can't stand any longer. Your children are crying and asking where their daddy is now. American officers and soldiers; Do you like to leave your mother, wife and children for the cannon fodders of Truman and MacArthur? Just cease fighting and come over to our line. We guarantee you safe conduct, warm clothes, good food and medical care if you injure, and in the end you'll get home."
One leaflet was entitled "Stop and think! What are you doing? It tells of good treatment in the POW camp and lists the names of 78 troops held in captivity.
The North Koreans even prepared leaflets that told the Allies exactly how they were expected to act in a POW camp.
One such leaflet has the following text in English on one side and in Korean on the other. The message says in part:
GUIDE TO PRISONERS OF WAR
But you are required to:
Obey our orders. Otherwise, you will be dealt with in accordance to our military law.
Hand over all weapons and military documents in your possession.
Hand over the following prohibited articles;
Lighters - Flashlights mirrors Knives Drugs Matches Explosives
Another said in part:
More than 400 surrendered American officers and men in a camp in North Korea signed the statement which is printed here. They have asked for it to be sent to America and to the American troops fighting in Korea. They disagree with the war and they believe that most American soldiers as well as the folks back home also want to see it ended. Here is what they say. Read it and see if their opinions are the same as yours.
U.S. Airman Writes to his Buddies
This small 5.5 x 4.25-inch 6-Page booklet contains a letter allegedly written by American prisoner-of-war airman Staff Sergeant Phillip Aaronson to his parents. The front and the back of the booklet depict a dead Korean male and a dead Korean mother and child. Inside there is a Safe Conduct Pass from the Korean Peoples Army and the Chinese Peoples Volunteer Forces. The pass explains how to say I surrender in Korean: Too Hong, and Chinese: Tow Shong. The booklet contains an explanation of the letter and the alleged letter from Aaronson in which he asks his parents to tell everyone to give up the war in Korea so he can come home. He also asks his parents to notify his girlfriend that he is still alive. Finally, he sends a letter to his comrades still flying B-29 bombers in which he asks them to stop their bombing campaign. Some of the text is:
United States Air Force Sergeant Phillip Aaronson is a prisoner of war in North Korea. Here is a letter from him to his old buddies in the Air Force which he has asked us to deliver to you. He also wrote to his folks at home asking them to take every action they could to get the war in Korea ended quickly. He wants everyone to read both of these.
I feel that we Americans are being led astray for an unjust cause. Our fight is not with the Korean people and the sooner we get out of here and back home, where the real battle should be fought to oust the big politicians and Wall Street bankers and warmongers out of American government, then sooner will Americans regain the prestige we are losing each day we stay in Korea…One way to promptly get our prisoners home is to bring this situation to a prompt end by leaving Korea to the Koreans. The Americans have no business being here.
The Title Officers and Men is a common one among enemy leaflets both in
Perhaps the most interesting from a design standpoint has the title and partial text:
Officers & Men of the
Korean Peoples Army Seeking to Save Their Lives!
The leaflet goes on to tell of the treatment soldiers will receive if they go over to the Communist forces and depicts a handwritten letter from Jackie Caraveau of Company F of the 38th Infantry Regiment.
The leaflet ends with a reminder that American soldiers can listen to Communist radio broadcasts:
The back of the leaflet depicts three photographs of Allied prisoners receiving good treatment and a message from Herbert Romberger of the 38th Infantry Regiment.
Another such leaflet has the title Important Message - Turn over on the front. When the leaflet is turned over we find the familiar title and partial text:
OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE AMERICAN ARMY
At the present time, many of your units have been annihilated by us and you yourselves are encircled or being routed by our powerful forces. It is surely a pity that you came to
to fight for the Bankers of Wall Street, but further resistance is both futile and unwise. It can mean nothing but useless sacrifice... Korea
The message ends with the usual offer of safe conduct by the Korean and Chinese Peoples Armies.
A third leaflet has a longer message in regard to peace negotiations and the foolishness of being killed at the last moment. It says in part:
OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE UN FORCES
Probably you are quite sure that the armistice negotiations at Kaesung will be brought to a success without fail, and you will be able to return to your dear parents and families at home.
Your folks will be of one mind with you too. The UN delegation however, is hatching a plot to bring the Kaesung armistice negotiations to a rupture by every possible lawless act in their power and to expand the war in
The fourth leaflet is just a small piece of paper with the text in English on one side and in Korean on the other.
Officers and men of the
armed forces! U.S.
Surrender, and you will not be killed.
We treat POWs well.
Lay down your arms and come over to us!
General Political Bureau
Of the Korean Peoples Army.
Officers and Men of the
A fifth leaflet is in English on one side and Korean on the other. The text is:
Officers and Men of the
Why are you going to die a meaningless death on an alien soil tens of thousands of 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 POWs well. The only way for you to get home is to surrender.
Lose no time and come over to us!
General Political Bureau of the Korean Peoples Army
This leaflet code # 144 depicts a soldier's mother reading his last letter. The text of the hand written letter reads:
I miss you so much, oh mom, I didn't know how I loved you so, but I'll prove it when this useless war is over -- I'm writing this letter in a foxhole, so don't scold me if it isn't so neat as I did when I was kid and came home with mud on my feet. The Captain just gave us orders & mom we have to carry it through. I'll finish this letter the first chance I get but for now I'll just say I love you.
Below the handwritten letter is additional text that reads:
This is an unfinished last letter received by an American Mother from her son that was killed in Korea.
Soldier's don't get killed in this useless war. Don't let this happen to your dear motrher at home who is praying day and night for your safety.
DEMAND PEACE, STOP THE WAR, so that you can go home and dispel the gnawing anxiety which is tearing your mother's heart.
THEME - BIG BUSINESS THE REAL REASON FOR THE WAR
Big Business is Scared of Peace
The Communists liked to tie the war effort to profit. Another all-text leaflet is entitled BIG BUSINESS IS SCARED OF PEACE. The leaflet is signed by The Korean Peoples Army and The Chinese Peoples Volunteers. Some of the text is:
When the peace talks began, the value of shares fell on the New York Stock Exchange.
Theyve made plenty out of the bloodshed in Korea.
Net corporate profits after tax in the first quarter of this year were at an annual rate of $24 billion or 50% above the first quarter of 1950. This was an all time peak.
We find this Communist attack on big business used over and over. It is one of their favorite themes.
You Risk Your Life
This tattered leaflet is coded 113. At the top we see a soldiers grave and down below a rich businessman walks with cash falling out of his pockets. The back is blank. The text at top and bottom is:
You risk your life, Big Business rakes in the dough
UN Soldiers: Avoid fighting whenever you can. If you dont shoot, you wont expose yourself.
Theres Money in War
Another example of the same sort of propaganda has some of the following text:
Theres Money in War
For some, and thats why the Wall Street bankers are trying to launch a Third World War. For others, war can only mean death and mutilation
Maybe you think this war has something to do with the United Nations, but everyone else knows that Washington has stolen the UN flag and draped it around your shoulders to conceal its real motives
Our enemy is MacArthur and the American monopolies, not you. These are your enemies too. So, why fight for their profits? WE HAVE COMMON ENEMIES .
The leaflet goes on to attack Wall Street, General MacArthur and ends with a Tow Shong safe conduct offer.
Do You Want to Know Why?
Another Communist leaflet claiming that the war is all about profits and Wall Street and the politicians just want to use it as a way to raise taxes and pass bills to make more money.
Leaflet # 117 shows two pictures on the front. The first photo is of two men and two women in swim suits sitting at a table with drinks by a pool in Florida. The text under the photo is:
Mr. Moneybags in Florida this Christmas.
The second photo is of GI's marching over the mountains through the snow. The text under the photo is:
Where are you? In Korea? You risk your life, Big Business rakes in the dough.
This leaflet is depicted in a
Army Korean War film on psychological warfare. The narrator states that this photograph was originally stolen from a magazine ad for cigars, (and note that one man is smoking a cigar) and goes on to say that the liquor glasses were later added by the North Korean Communists. If you look at the glass in the hand of the man at the right it does appear to be drawn. U.S.
Leaflet # 145 asks the questions:
Why are they throwing a monkey wrench in the peace talks?
Why are you still in Korea?
Why do they want this war - and more war?
The leaflet goes on to explain the answer to these questions by stating:
THE REAL REASON
If the international situation had not taken a turn for the worse this spring, we would be inclined to take a serious view of the business outlook. - The Journal of Commerce
Only increasing arms outlay seems likely to prevent a marked business setback.
- Moody's Investment Service
The U.S. government is delaying the truce negotiations in order to gain time for creating a situation of strength. - James Van Fleet, U.S. Army Commander
Don't let them make a monkey out of you!
Get together to stop this senseless war!
Another leaflet that blames the United States for the failure of the peace talks is 162. Some of the text is:
TRUTH WILL OUT!
Why Harrison and Clark broke off the Peace Talks.
The text explains that the Communists wanted all prisoners returned home. The problem, of course, is that thousands of the prisoners did not want to go home to a tyrannical government. They wanted to stay in the South. The Communists could not admit that their own people wanted no part of returning to the workers paradise so they held to their demands
THE U.S IS SABOTAGING PEACE TALKS
We have seen that several of the leaflets have mentioned the peace talks. The Koreans continually complained that the United States and the Allies were doing everything possible to see that the peace talks were not successful. We find such comments in many leaflets. In the leaflet above, Secretary of State Acheson, who held that position under President Truman from 1949 to 1953, is depicted in a humiliating way with his pants down around his ankles. Acheson is credited with convincing President Truman to intervene in the Korean War in June 1950.The message states that although he once agreed that the war should end along the 38th Parallel (where it ultimately did end); he now refuses to agree on that peace line.
Chinese Safe Conduct Pass (Found in black ink and red ink)
This Safe Conduct Pass was dropped Behind US lines and says:
We guarantee if you put down your weapon and say TOW SHONG (SURRENDER) TOW rhymes with SHOW and SHONG rhymes with LONG. You will be escorted to the rear for safety. You will get medical treatment if you need it. You will not be abused and, in the end, Youll Get Home.
The Chinese Peoples Volunteer Forces.
On the back it says:
Thousands have done it why not you? Thousands of men of all ranks and nationalities have put down their arms and crossed to our lines where they are now safe, well fed and out of the war. They knew what we are telling you now. We do not harm or humiliate prisoners. We do not take their personal belongings. We give medical treatment to all who need it. We shall help them return home when it is possible. Come over and join your buddies in the safety of the rear. Dont leave it until too late.
Jacobson points out that many of the best North Korean and Chinese propaganda leaflets, such as the safe conduct passes, were straight lifts from U.S. propaganda sheets, perhaps an indication of the actual or perceived success of these materials on Korean and Chinese troops. The Chinese also produced a newssheet entitled Peace (published by the Peace News Press), leaflets that stressed that
U.S.soldiers were fighting for the imperialist dogs of Wall Street, and later in the war leaflets explaining to soldiers that Eisenhower had sold out the American soldiers to big business. U.S.
Home and Safe
This one-sided safe conduct pass again uses the Tow Shong phrase to implore Allied forces to surrender to the Chinese Peoples Volunteers.
Your buddies are doing fine here
This un-coded Chinese leaflet depicts a group of Allied POWs on the front. Once again it teaches the finder that the Chinese term for surrender is Tow Shong. The back depicts photographs of Paul B. Miller of Meridianville, Alabama, and Willard A. Kiger of High Point, North Carolina. Both men tell of the wonderful treatment they are receiving from the Chinese Army.
The text on the above Safe Conduct Pass reads:
BEARER, regardless of nationality or rank, is to be treated in accordance with our policy of leniency to prisoners of war and escorted to the nearest local headquarters of the Korean People's Army of the Chinese People's Volunteers. He is to be guaranteed:
1. Security of Life
2. Retention of all personal belongings
3. Freedom from maltreatment or abuse.
4. Medical care if wounded or ill.
KIM IL SUNG
Supreme Commander Korean People's Army
Commander, Chinese People's Volunteers
Another uncoded safe conduct pass from the same general set depicts three POWs swimming in a local river on the front with the text:
Swimming in the summer in a local North Korean river. Its like a holiday.
The back has two photographs, one showing prisoners playing chess with the text:
A quiet game of chess after an afternoons sailing. Theyre two British lads - George Marshall and Horace Barker.
Many POWs like to play chess.
The same leaflet as above with the same front and inside pages depicts POWs playing chess.
This leaflet is not exactly a safe conduct pass. I placed it here because the leaflet above shows POWs enjoying a pleasant swim, and this one also uses the same general theme. The front depicts a group of happy POWs in a local lake. The leaflet was folded to show four sides, and next to the swimmers the second page reproduces and alleged letter from one of the prisoners, Corporal Roy Atkins of Cincinnati, Ohio, to his mother. On the two pages on the back of the leaflet the letter is typed out to make it easier to read. Roy seems to be having a wonderful time with sports, games, music, and even parties. It sounds like a typical Communist prisoner-of-war camp. In this case we actually have the approximate date of the leaflet, 28 August 1951.
Another leaflet in the same set coded 184 shows prisoners playing musical instruments and the text:
Jack Noble and Raymond Frazier enjoy entertaining their buddies. Theres quite a range of musical instruments on the camp
The back depicts prisoners doing exercises and promises:
Camp has its sports. Every camp has its baseball and football teams too.
In February 2021, I heard from Jack Noble’s daughter. She said:
My Father is Jack Noble is who pictured with Raymond Frazier. My Dad has since passed away. I am wondering how I might get in touch with any remaining POWs of the Korean War - US citizens and/or allies and their families if possible. It would be wonderful if Mr. Frazier is still living and is willing to connect with me via email.
The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office added:
Jack D. Noble was a member of Headquarters Battery, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. He was captured near Hoengsong in eastern South Korea on 13 February 1951 during a massive Chinese push to overrun South Korea while U.S. forces were still depleted from the previous fighting in November and December. As a POW, Jack Noble marched north, then west, then north again to reach holding camps near Suan, North Korea, likely arriving in the last week of March 1951. He stayed there for about three weeks, then continued northward on foot, around the eastern edge of Pyongyang and up to Anju. From there, his group went by train to Sinuiju on the south bank of the Yalu River. From 10 to 17 May 1951, they marched up the south bank of the Yalu River to permanent Camp 1 at Changsong, just inland from the river. Many men had died along the wayside, but warmer weather gradually worked to help restore strength in others. Jack Noble stayed on at Camp 1 until taken for release at Panmunjom on 21 August 1953.
We just show the image side of this Chinese leaflet. It depicts prisoners having a grand time down by the lake. The text is:
Come over and share the fun.
Other varieties of the safe conduct pass depict happy prisoners-of-war and POWs taking part in an athletic even. The texts on those two are:
They smile because they are safe and happy with us.
At an athletic event.
If You Want to Live
This surrender leaflet is folded, and when opened is over a foot long. The text on the front depicts a pair of happy allied prisoners of war taking a walk down a road unattended by North Korean or Chinese guards. The text is:
IF YOU WANT TO LIVE, SURRENDER. The Korean Peoples Army and the Chinese Peoples Volunteers treat POWs well!
The back depicts a cartoon of an American soldier being killed by an explosion and the text:
Officers and Men of the American Forces! If you ADVANCE, only DEATH awaits you!
Demand peace Stop the War
Another safe conduct pass from the same series of surrender leaflets is printed in red and blue and folded twice. The front depicts on the right a dove of peace and the text in English, Chinese and Korean:
Demand peace Stop the War
Safe Conduct Pass
Headquarters, Korean Peoples Army
Headquarters, Chinese Peoples Volunteers
The left side of the front depicts five Allied prisoners of war playing cards and the text:
Playing cards a favorite POW recreation.
When opened, the inside is all text in English Chinese and Korean with the text:
The BEARER regardless of nationality or rank, is to be treated in accoradance with our policy of leniency to prisoners of war and escorted to the nearest local headquarters of the Korean People's Army or the Chinese People's Volunteers. He is to be guaranteed:
1. Security of life.
2. Retention of all his personnal belongings.
3. Freedom from maltreatment or abuse.
4. Medical care if wounded or ill.
KIM IL SUNG
Supreme Commander, Korean People's Army
Commander, Chinese People's Volunteers
The safe conduct pass is interesting because the outside looks very official with the title, imprint of The Chinese People's Volunteer Headquarters and the Chinese chop. The inside has text in Chinese and English and says in part:
The BEARER, regardless of his nationality or rank will be duly accepted and escorted to a rear Peoples Volunteer Garrison or POW camp; and on arrival will be guaranteed in accordance with our policy of leniency to prisoners of war, the following four great affirmations .
Another safe conduct pass bears the message on the front written in Korean and Chinese at the left and English at the right. The message is:
SAFE CONDUCT PASS
The BEARER, regardless of his military rank or nationality, is hereby unconditionally guaranteed freedom from personal injury, maltreatment or abuse. He will receive medical treatment if necessary and will retain all personal possessions.
THE KOREAN PEOPLES ARMY
THE CHINESE PEOPLES VOLUNTEER FORCES.
The back of the leaflets bears a long message in English that says in part:
LET THE WARMONGERS DO THEIR OWN FIGHTING
In a Christmas party arranged by one of the Chinese volunteer units, an American prisoner named Glaseaw said:
We are Christians! Yet today our hands are smeared with Korean blood. We have slaughtered peaceful civilians and bombed old people and children. We have committed crimes. AND WHO MADE US DO IT? IT WAS TRUMAN, DU PONT AND THE REST; THEY CARE ABOUT NOTHING BUT MONEY
Another leaflet is almost identical on the front but bears a different propaganda message on the back. The message says in part:
American officers and soldiers:
The all-out offensive of back home before Christmas boasted by MacArthur has been smashed already. You are now driven out of
Pyongyangand and Seoul
You are facing a situation worse than that of three months ago. In front of you there are heroic and powerful Korean Peoples Army and Chinese Volunteers. At the back of you, there are thousands upon thousands of Korean brave guerrilla troops and numerous indignant Korean people
A third variation of the same leaflet has this message on the back. The text starts the same as the second but quickly changes to a new text.
Another Chinese Communist leaflet that mentions Christmas (or in this case Xmas) seems to be just written with a typewriter. The grammar leaves a bit to be desired. Some of the text is:
Last year Mac Arthur promised you to ruturn home by Xmas. Now the Xmas forthcoming again, yet you still remain in the severe cold of the Korean battlefield
THEME - LEAVE KOREA TO THE KOREANS
This leaflet shows a GI returning home to his wife or girl. The top of the leaflet reads "LEAVE KOREA TO THE KOREANS" a popular theme used by the North throughout the war. The text at the bottom of the leaflet reads: "Photo of G.I. just back from Korea. YOU TOO BELONG BACK HOME!"
The reverse of this leaflets depicts a handwritten letter from a GI's wife along with a message. The text on the back reads:
"ARMISTICE TALKS GIVE PEOPLE NEW HOPE Your folks are longing you will soon be home--safe and sound. This is what they are writing--"
My Dearest Darling,
Well sweet, first of all let me tell you that I love you with all my heart. Oh it was with such joy we heard the news of cease fire talk in Korea and there is a great hope in our hearts that soon you'll be home, darling please be back quickly to care for me and our lovable baby.
I'm terribly waiting for a letter in your home. I'm praying for the day when I can see you walking in the door to me. I had a dream last night that I saw you quite clearly running towards me. I don't know why we have to have war. I wish you'll never leave me again. I know you can have your old job if you left the army. I need you dear, my life is empty without you.
Your everloving wife
The best way home is real peace in Korea. And the first step to real peace is to fix the 88th parallel as the military demarcation line between both sides for the establishment of a demilitarized zone.
THE KOREAN PEOPLE'S ARMY
THE CHINESE PEOPLE'S ARMY
The front of leaflet # 141 shows a GI holding a rifle and asks the questions: "Who is breaking the law? and Why are you still in Korea?" The reverse of the leaflet is all text and reads:
There is only one International Law on Prisoners of War
Who Is Breaking The Law?
The Geneva Convention which the U.S. signed says (in Article 118):
Prisoners of war shall be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities
The London "Times" one of the most conservative newspapers in the world wrote on May 6:
For nearly 200 years it has been accepted that belligerents should return their prisoners of war when hostilities have ceased.
The Chinese and Koreans stick to the law. They want all POWs to go home. The U.S. refuses on the phony pretext of 'voluntary repatriation' which has never before been heard of.
It was to protect prisoners against such tricks that the law was made in the first place. That is why the Geneva Convention also says (in Article 7):
Prisoners of war may in no circumstances renounce in part or in entirety the rights secured to them by this convention.
The illegal trick is the only thing that keep you from going home too. Everything else in the Peace Talks has been agreed on.
Demand That All POW's Go Home. Demand Peace So You Can Go Home Too.
56,430 GIs Lives have been Traded Away
Like the leaflet above, this one also mentions the thousands of POWs who have no interest in returning to China or North Korea. Rather than simply admit that they have no interest in living under Communist rule the Chinese insist they are being held against their will.
Leaflet 193 indicates that both the North Koreans and the Chinese are just peaceful people who wish to be left alone. The Americans are the villains.
The Chinese People want
The Chinese People want peace to build up their country.
But they are not afraid of fighting if their national security is threatened. The Korean people want peace to build up their country too, but you came and destroyed their peaceful life. Thats why they are fighting back.
The other side of the leaflet is all text:
LIVE AND LET LIVE
You may be a Protestant or a Catholic. Your neighbor may have a different religion.
But you dont shoot your neighbor for this reason nor does he keep a gun loaded for you.
Yet you are told that you have to fight in Korea to smash Communism which is a belief and a way of life treasured by the Chinese, the Koreans, and many others about 800 million people all over the world
You would not be in Korea if you government said live and let live.
Surprisingly, the Communists seem to have forgotten that they invaded the south and broke the long peace from the end of WWII.
The uncoded leaflet above describes how life is in a Chinese People's Volunteer Forces POW Camp. The leaflet states that there are already thousands of POWs, and that they are being treated fairly, given medical treatment is needed, and are allowed to write home to let family know that they are safe. The leaflet also reports that many American and British prisoners have already been freed and sent home.
Another leaflet that seems to have been printed in several colors shows the treatment that the prisoner can expect in a North Korean or Chinese prison camp. The leaflet is coded 608126. A white dove is depicted at the top along with a photograph of happy Allied prisoners eating at a bountiful table. The text is:
First class treatment.
Come and join us fellow soldiers. In the fight for peace. Live and let live!
A second photograph below depicts a graveyard and a skull. The text is:
Six feet of Korean earth!
Central Political Bureau of the Korean Peoples Army
The back of the leaflet is in Korean so that the South Korean troops could also read the Communist propaganda. In the foreground two Korean soldiers wait for their dinner; in front of both is a single rice ball. In the background American soldiers feast on a turkey with all the trimmings.
The text is:
Dear Puppet soldiers: Isn't starving or disciplinary punishment more unbearable than death?
Ration per day: 5 hop 5 jak - two meals a day - one rice ball
The daily ration is 5 hop 5 jak but we are fed only two rice balls per day.
Who keeps the rest of the food?
Note: A hop was a unit used to measure grains (like rice), liquor, soy sauce and similar products. One hop is about 180 milliliters or about .4 U.S. liquid pints. There are 10 jaks (also called chaks) to each hop.
A similar brown monotone leaflet depicts a group of black prisoners of war. One plays an accordion, a second plays a guitar. The leaflet is signed by the Central Political Bureau of the Korean Peoples Army. The text is:
Sing-song in a P.O.W. Camp
ANOTHER WHITE MANS BURDEN
A third leaflet from the Central Political Bureau of the Korean Peoples Army coded 608127 depicts seven American prisoners-of-war sitting at a table and eating. It is difficult to see because the leaflet is worn and faded. A short text is:
Negro G.I.s find the camp really a home
Below, a drawing shows American soldiers pointing weapons at black troops and forcing them forward. The text is:
ANOTHER WHITE MANS BURDEN!
The back of the leaflet is interesting. During the Vietnam War the Communists would often print one side in English and the other side in Vietnamese so that both enemy armies could read their propaganda. The Koreans do that in this leaflet. The text is all Korean and the image depicts American troops throwing their rifles down and running away at the top, while at the bottom the Americans beat and throw Korean soldiers out of their vehicles so they can escape the enemy more quickly. The text is:
WHO IS TO BLAME FOR THE MISSING WEAPONS?
In the chaos caused by the advance of Peoples Army, the American bastards took flight abandoning their weapons before everybody else!
In order to hide their crime of throwing away their weapons, the Americans beat and kill you in order to steal your weapons and Jeeps.
Even if you survive the massacre by the American bastards in the front lines, you cannot avoid the beating and executions for your missing weapons.
In order to avoid the beatings and killings and racial scorn and in order to be a proud Korean, you can come to the side of Peoples Army as soon as possible.
Note: The White Man's Burden: The United States and the Philippine Islands was a poem written by Rudyard Kipling in 1899, about the PhilippineAmerican War. The phrase White Man's Burden was often used to justify European imperialism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The phrase implies that imperialism was motivated by a high-minded desire of whites to uplift people of color who were childlike and unable to rule themselves.
The front of the leaflet is all in English and depicts some Americans in North Korean custody. They seem happy, in pleasant conversation and reading newspaper and magazines. Some of the comments (partially corrected for clarity) are:
Dear conscientious friends of American officers, sergeants, and soldiers! Remember that the great longings of Korean People's Army are justice, freedom, and national independence for the people...Any prisoner, who knowing nothing, was sent by the Wall Street merchants, the American imperialists, has been allowed to enjoy the absolute security of life and full respect of personal rights, under the warm protection of Korean People's Army who are struggling for the unification and independence of their fatherland…
The back is in the Korean language and shows some prisoners receiving medical treatment and adds in English: "Prisoners are receiving the necessaries of their live and receiving kind medical care."
There is a computer adage (Godwin's law: 1990) that the first person to use Hitler in an argument loses. Here we find another leaflet from the Central Political Bureau of the Korean Peoples Army that shows scenes of destroyed buildings. The text above these war-ravaged scenes is:
EVEN HITLER THE CIVILIZED SAVAGE WILL SHRINK FROM SUCH BARBARISM AS THIS!
The back of the leaflet is a long propaganda message that claims to be an appeal from prisoners-of-war demanding world peace. We have no idea if any of the prisoners mentioned even knew this propaganda leaflet existed. Some of the text is:
APPEAL TO THE GREAT POWERS BY PRISONERS OF WAR FOR THE FORMATION OF A PACT TO ESTABLISH WORLD PEACE.
We, the undersigned prisoners of war of the Korean Peoples Army, representing many thousands of our fellow prisoners, American, British, and Turkish, send this voluntary appeal directly to the great powers, namely the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom and France, to sign a peace pact at the first opportunity to preserve would peace We are sure that all peace-loving countries are behind us in this appeal and we ask for their support and cooperation upon this, our earnest desire for world peace.
The appeal seems to be signed by about 30 prisoners. It is a nice piece of propaganda except that the world was at peace until North Korea invaded South Korea. The world would be at peace again once North Korea pulled back to its own land.
What is she Thinking Now?
The large, attractive leaflet depicts a pretty woman crying as she thinks of her husband far away in Korea, and the text, Everyone has someone to live for. Some of the letter to her man is depicted. Other text on the front is, You can get out of this profiteers' war. Stop fighting for Dupont and Morgan. Then what? You'll go to the rear to safety and get home in the end. Turnover see what you buddies have to say. The front of the leaflet has a safe conduct pass at the bottom.
The back of the leaflet has two vertical columns. One is a list of letters sent to the men at the front titled, HOW THEY WROTE TO YOU from relatives of men in Korea, and a second list of letters titled, HOW YOU WRITE TO THEM from prisoners of war. Of course, the first letters are all sad and against the war, and the second group is extremely happy prisoners enjoying the hospitalist of the Communist Chinese.
I wonder if the average soldier in Korean even knew who Dupont and Morgan were?
Who are they
The same back, Appeal to the great powers is found on this second leaflet. The front is much more exotic, in bright colors depicting American soldiers killing Koreans and burning their property. The text is a bit stronger on this leaflet:
Who are they that threw you, workers, farmers and office workers, into the ditch of death for the benefit of the American bastards?
Who forced you to set fire to the houses of your families? Who is guilty for this atrocity?
The American bastards and their puppet, Syngman Rhee. They are right beside you! Aim your gun to them!
Tragedy at Samurachi Hill, Hongchun.
Your parents and brothers and sisters, who were deceived by
Rhee and his gang and ran away were murdered like this.
Father, Lee [illegible name] of 9th Division, 29th Regiment of the puppet army.
What is your Choice?
Another leaflet from the General Political Bureau of the Korean People’s Army, this one coded 121020. The leaflet offers the soldier a choice of “Darling or Honour?” Since the medal is not an American-looking one, and Americans do not spell the word “honour,” I assume this was aimed at the British Tommies in Korea. The back is all text and proves this leaflet targeted British troops because we see a photographic portrait of Mrs. Wallis Simpson. The text is:
Edward VIII abdicated the throne of Great Britain light-heartedly in order to win love. What all-in-all are you seeking after at the cost of your home and fame? Do you know? A King’s story!
G.I.s Appeal to the United Nations
Dan King wrote a book entitled The Yalu River Boys, Pacific Press, North Charleston, NC, 2018, about his father who was a prisoner in North Korea after his B-29 was shot down. The story shows the enormous amount of pressure the captives were under to make pro-Communist statements. Those that refused were beaten, tortured, starved, left without medical treatment and sometimes just killed. The above leaflet is illustrated in the book. I will add two edited passages that show the nature of the North Korean Communists.
On 8 May 1951, 400 of the survivors attended a mandatory Peace Rally. On a table was a request to form a peace committee addressed to Kim Il-sung along with a reply from the Dear Leader approving the request The petition contained phrases such as The Americans were unjustly involved in the Korean War, were imperialistic, and were in effect dog runners of Wall Street, that we were capitalistic war mongers. Major John Dunn, as the senior officer, rose to his feet and said that the document would not be signed The punishment for refusing to sign was withdrawal of their meager food rations the prisoners could hold out for perhaps three days before the weakened men began dying in larger numbers The POWs later discovered that the Koreans really didnt need their signatures because they were willing to fake them
The Reds threatened to have pro-Communist agents in the United States seek out their families if the prisoners refused to cooperate. Comrade Sun, who spoke English with no detectable accent, told Marine Warrant Officer Felix McCool that it would be a shame if something happened to his sons while he was a POW .
Surprisingly, very few leaflets targeted African-American troops. The Chinese and North Vietnamese would produce dozens of racially divisive leaflets in the 1960s, but the North Koreans showed little interest in attacking that soft underbelly of
. There is one known case of six American prisoners released on 7 January 1951 and sent back to their own lines carrying three North Korean leaflets. The very odd text is: America
COLORED MEN OF
FORCES. FIND THE ONLY WAY TO LIVE! U.S.
YOU MUST LIVE. YOU MUST GO HOME AGAIN. Your family is awaiting your return. How sad were it when your death be informed to them. Who will support your familys lives after your death? You are now defeated on every front and are surrounded in many areas by brave
KoreaPeoples Army and voluntary Army of . You continuous fight brings nothing else but worthless death in a strange land. China
YOU MUST HAVE YOUR JUST RIGHT TO ENJOY FREEDOM AND EQUALITY.
You certainly remember that you have been mistreated with racist discrimination and in slave life. American capitalists are plotting to colonize
by military intervention. We should cut this chain. Korea
HATE WAR AND COME OVER TO KOREANS PEOPLES ARMY. IF YOU WANT TO FIND THE ONLY WAY TO LIVE.
Korean Peoples Army will treat you very well and send you home soon.
Another leaflet that uses race as a theme is folds out into six pages and is signed by the Korean Peoples Army and the Chinese Peoples Volunteers. It is coded 168. A picture on the cover depicts Private First Class James Wilson shaking hands with his Communist captors. Some of the text is:
Did you ever stop to think why you should be in Korea, fighting other colored people, while lynchings, murders and insults pile up against the Negro people at home?
Since the Korean War began there have been more lynchings and killing in all parts of the country than ever before.
In the Army, less than one Negro in 70 is commissioned, while there is one white officer for approximately every seven enlisted men. In the Navy there are only two Negro officers; There are 58,571 white officers. The Marine Corps has 7,798 officers not one of whom is a Negro.
We say: No
U.S.soldiers have any business in Korea for the Koreans. China for the Chinese. America for the Americans, Negro and white. Americans, black and white, unite and fight for peace.
We didnt come 5,000 miles across the sea to fight. We didnt come to America with guns and bombs and we never will. Dont risk your lives here. Ask to go home where you can fight for your own rights as a human being. Leave us in peace in our homes here.
The leaflet goes on to report lynchings and crimes against black men both in the
United Statesand in the U.S.Army in . It discusses politics in the Korea and points out how few black Congressmen and Senators hold office. It reminds the black soldiers of how few black officers have been commissioned in the military. United States
LEST YOU FORGET
This leaflet is all text and uses white prejudice as its theme. It mentions the lynching of a black NAACP leader, and 85 others. It makes an argument against fighting in Korea when the black mans fight should be in America. Some of the text is:
NEGRO SOLDIERS! Youve got a fight on your hands at home. Dont come fighting colored people out here!
The only fight that makes sense is the fight for your own rights! The Koreans and Chinese are fighting against American aggression; they are fighting for their own rights too.
Another crude leaflet in the form of a handwritten letter claims to be from Corporal Francisco Oliveras Padilla. Some of the text is:
Your buddy says chinese treat war prisoners good.
Here is what your buddy Francisco says about the Chinese treatment.
I write you from a Chinese hospital very far from the front line. I was very afraid, but everything passed when I met the Chinese soldiers at their lines. They were so kind with me that I was surprised. They offered me cigarettes and hot water.
I thought that the Chinese were very bad men, that killed the prisoners, but this is nothing but lie. When we reached to their lines they gave me the first aid to the wound in my leg
Curiously, Corporal Padilla survived the war and I was surprised to hear from a relative in August 2011 that he lived not far from me. The Orlando Sentinel of 10 August 2011 printed a story by Eloísa Ruano González entitled Veteran finally gets his medals from Korean War. She said in part:
More than half a century after he was wounded in the Korean War, Francisco Oliveras-Padilla wrapped his feeble fingers around the seven medals engraved with his name. One medal for being shot in the right leg. One for enduring torture as a prisoner of war. One for good behavior and fidelity to the U.S. Army.
The Army mailed them to U.S. Representative John Mica's office to present to the 85-year-old Oliveras-Padilla, who has Alzheimer's disease and has suffered strokes that have left him mostly immobile and unable to speak.
Oliveras-Padilla was a member of the Borinqueneers, a regiment made up of Puerto Rican soldiers led by white officers. The men were instrumental in containing the Chinese advance and in supporting Marines in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War. Oliveras-Padilla was discharged in 1954 after serving more than three years, including two years in a POW camp. Traumatized by his experience, he stayed clear of the military, war movies and anything else that might trigger flashbacks after he returned to his native Bayamón, Puerto Rico.
Because of severe medical difficulties Padilla recalls little of the Korean War. His actual date of capture was 8 December 1951 and this leaflet was apparently prepared six days later. He recalls being treated for his leg wound at what seemed to be a home with paper walls. He was well treated and given rice to eat. He does not remember fences or walls at the camp and was told he could leave anytime. But, since none of the prisoners at this camp and any idea where they were or how to return to friendly lines, few tried to escape. Only one soldier tried and he returned two days later.
I was notified that on 14 December 2011, exactly 60 years to the day from the date on the Padilla propaganda leaflet letter, that he passed away in Florida.
His obituary said in part:
Chinese propaganda was widespread in an effort to dispirit American soldiers. His captors pulled Oliveras-Padilla into the mix by releasing a letter, now posted online in a collection of Korean War propaganda, that they claimed he wrote to a fellow soldier telling how well he was being treated.
Family members say he was not abused but a bullet remained lodged in his leg until the day he died. They are skeptical of the letter written in English because of his poor command of the language and the fact that it was dated less than a week after his capture on 8 December 1951, when he would not have been able to make the broad assessment of his conditions that was claimed.
That online collection of Korean War propaganda mentioned in the obituary is this article of course, and it would have been nice if the newspaper had credited us.
PFC Dave Schroeder's camp in the punchbowl.
Private First Class Dave Schroeder was an assistant BAR man (Browning automatic rifle) in Company B, 17th Infantry, 7th Infantry Division during the winter of 1951-1952. In late December 1951 on the north rim of the punch bowl, he engaged a North Korean patrol that was attempting to hand-deliver surrender leaflets. The punchbowl was a large circular valley ringed by steep mountains on three sides. It lay east of Heartbreak Ridge along the
line just south of the 38th Parallel. The next morning he found one of the leaflets. It had a huge bloodstain covering a third of the paper but he cleaned it off and carried it for the remainder of the war. Kansas
The leaflet purports to be correspondence between a group of 28 American prisoners-of-war to the Central Committee of the US-British Prisoners of War Peace Organizations, in
Pyongyang, North , and their Answer back to the prisoners. The leaflet was obviously prepared while the peace talks were going on. The text is very long. Some of the more interesting comments from the POWs are: Korea
We all know now that this is an unjust and aggressive war. This war should have been settled be the North and South Koreans. We have no business in it. We cannot see why our government is wasting so much money, men and materials and wont achieve an armistice at the 38th parallel and withdraw our troops from
. We are willing to act in accordance with the platform of your committee, and do everything in our power to bring peace and settle this Korean problem. Korea
We are all eagerly hoping to be accepted into the Peace Organization so we can join the fight for peace in
. We would like to see and end to this war at the earliest moment so that all the prisoners could return to their wives and families and stop this needless killing and waste of materials Korea
Peace is our goal, for that is the only way for us POWs to get back to our families.
Naturally, the Communist-front organization welcomes the soldiers and is thrilled to have them as peaceful allies. Some of the long reply, including one of the longest run-on sentences I have ever seen is:
Your decision to leave the camp of the aggressors and join the ranks of the peace fighters is wise and just. You realized before it was too late, the uselessness in suffering unendurable hardships one the battlefield and risking death or permanent injury in waging war on a peace loving people and it shows you are cognizant of the fact that this is an unjust war, being fought solely for the personal gain of the imperialists in the U.S.A. and Great Britain, the stalling tactics and ridiculous demands of the U.S. delegation at Keasong clearly prove that they are bent on securing Korea as a base for further acts of aggression in Asia.
The aims and objectives of our organization are very clear. We are striving for a peaceful settlement of the Korean conflict and for the establishment of a lasting world peace.
At the bottom of both sides of the leaflet is a reminder that troops can listen to the Communist radio:
radio arranges an English program for you at 22:15 every Tuesday evening. Pyongyang
The 38th Regiment of the Second Infantry Division took terrible losses in
. The Korean War Project estimates 2,074 casualties during the length of the war. On 27 August 1951, the date that the men who signed the North Korean leaflet allegedly surrendered, 62 soldiers were lost. Korea
A multicolored card depicting ringing bells and holly with the English text "Merry Christmas" on front. The back of the card is blank except for the code number 120 preceded by two Chinese characters that read "propaganda sheet." The card unfolds to reveal text at the left reading :
Whatever the colour, race or creed, all plain folks are brothers indeed. Both you and we want life and peace, if you go home, the war will cease. Demand Peace! Stop the War!
Text at the right reads "Greetings from the Chinese People's Volunteers /
1951." The folded card is 95 x 120 mm. This card is also known in a monotone (lilac) version. Korea
This Christmas Leaflet code # 156 depicts a Mrs. Christine Brown reading one of the two letters she received from her husband Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Brown, who is a prisoner of war in Korea.
The text reads:
"It is comforting to know that whether returned to us or not, he is in good hands", said the wife of a POW when she heard that her husband was captured.
Christmas will be happy in the family. The families of POWs are not in torment every moment. Their hearts at ease. They know their dear ones are out of danger, are in good hands and well treated. They receive letters from them regularly, see their photos in newspapers and hear their voices over the radio. MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, they know their dear ones will be repatriated right after the armistice is signed, while other Americans GIs and British, Turkish, Puerto Rican, Greek, Dutch, French soldiers who are still in the front will have to stay in Korea, keeping vigil with the bleak mountains until the U.S. Government makes up its mind to leave Korea to the Koreans.
This undated Christmas leaflet coded # 118 has two pictures. The first a photo, show a cold and sad GI. with the text below:
Frozen rations eaten on the run, any moment he may have to run again to fight or die - and so may you.
The second picture shows a Thanksgiving feast with a smiling family preparing to sit down to a wonderful turkey dinner. The text accompanying this picture reads:
Christmas - Home - Happiness. Those who love you want you want you back home, safe and sound. FIND A WAY OUT! It's No Disgrace to Quit Fighting in This Unjust War!
A decade after I uploaded this leaflet, I found out that it depicted a dazed, hooded, U.S. Marine clutching a can of food during his outfit's breakout from the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, December 1950. This famous photo appeared in Life Magazine and in a book called: Give me Tomorrow, The Korean War’s Greatest Untold Story – The Epic Stand of the Marines of George Company.
The Communists did not limit themselves to propaganda messages on paper leaflets. On rare occasions they produced their propaganda on cloth as we see in this Christmas handkerchief. This item was found by Sergeant Paul Foster of the 180th Infantry Regiment / 45th Infantry Division (Thunderbirds) in a mailbox sometime in 1951. Apparently a North Korean agent or soldier placed it in the mailbox to be found by the Americans. Attached to the cloth was a pin with the text:
Stop the War
The images on the cloth depict a group of six family members, a white dove of peace, an American, Korean, and Chinese soldier with arms around each other in friendship, and pictures of a Wall Street boss, the girl friend, a soldier and a civilian. The text around the borders, in the four corners and in the center of the brightly colored handkerchief is:
Demand Peace! Stop the War! It is no disgrace to quit fighting in this unjust war. Withdraw all foreign troops from
. Leave Korea to the Koreans. From the Chinese People's Volunteers - Korea Korea1951
Those who love you want you back home safe and sound. Peace. Let all the peoples be friends. Merry Christmas.
How would it be to get back into civvies? Why fight for him? Why not go back to her? Its no disgrace to quit an unjust war!
A Belgian Army soldier, whose unit was attached to the American Third Division during 1951 and 1952 found the handkerchiefs placed by the Chinese between the lines:
The handkerchiefs hung, among many others, from a tree in the center of an open valley. After several days of observation without any signs of the tree being watched, I left the safety of the entrenchment and retrieved a handful of them. I distributed them to my fellow soldiers and kept one for myself. I brought it home to
and my sister-in-law hung it in a frame on the wall and it remains still intact in the same frame. Belgium
Speaking of mail and mailboxes, during the Korean War, the Chinese overprinted propaganda slogans on the back of their commemorative postage stamps. On Christmas Eve, 1952, they placed stamps on the barbed wire in front of the UN lines as a gesture of peace and friendship. The overprints on the stamps left by the Chinese are:
s peaceful construction China
Life not death! Peace not war!
Great Chinaand Heroic people
Life not death! Peace not war!
The Chinese leave a Mail Box within a Canadian Strongpoint
What is even more amazing from a postal standpoint is that according to Canadian Signals Officer Frank Sorensen on one occasion the Chinese crawled through their mine fields using rice straws to guide them past tripwires and placed a notice in their battalion area, stating that mail for prisoners-of-war held by the Chinese should be left there. Apparently they intended to come back and collect the mail. Frank said:
The Chinese had a real sense of humor, I'll give them that.
Another full-color Christmas card from the Communist Chinese shows a candle and holly leaves and has the text "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Chinese People's Volunteers." This card is undated so there is no way to tell when it was disseminated. Text on the back says:
It is Christmas and you are far from home, suffering from cold not knowing when you will die. The big shots are home, enjoying themselves eating good food, drinking good liquor, why should you be here risking your life for their profits? The Koreans and the Chinese don't want to be your enemies. Our enemies and yours are those who sent you here and destroy your happiness. Soldiers! Lets join hands! You belong back home with those who love you and want you back, safe and sound. So we wish you.....
Another leaflet is coded # 157. The front of the leaflet depicts of a woman resting her head on her arms thinking about her husband or boyfriend. The text on the front reads: "Darling I will dream that you are coming back to me this Christmas. I can't think of a Christmas without you."
The photo on the reverse of the leaflet shows several dead American soldiers and a letter. The text beside the photo states: "Found on the body of a dead GI -- Julius J. Davis, Pfc., 9th Co., 15th Regt., 3rd Div. Serial No. US544061551." The inclusion of the name of the soldier, his serial number and unit, provides credibility to the letter.
The text of the handwritten letter on the reverse reads:
Friday, July 25th 1952. 12:50 pm
As I lie here in your room, my thoughts are out there with you wherever you are. It may sound funny, and it's hard to understand, but wherever you are no matter how far away, part of me will be there too. Darling since I've been home I 've felt so close to you. Every time I go to the closet to get a dress, and I see your suits and coats hanging in there, something comes over me and I get weak in my knees and I just have to stop a while and close my eyes. I guess it is all a part of being in love and being separated from the one you love.
They wonder why I don't eat. In the first place I don't have the appetite and haven't had much of an appetite for almost a year. Shall I tell you why? Yes baby, I know nothing will affect your appetite. But I'm different you affect practically every part of me. The physical, mental and spiritual sides too.
Goodnight darling, I will dream you are coming back to me this Christmas. I can't think of a Christmas without you.
I wish I could fall asleep tonight in your arms. Wouldn't we both be happy?
PFC Julius Davis
In 2014, we discovered that Julius Davis, now 84 years old, was still alive and not killed in action as the Communists stated. This is the true story of the letter and leaflet:
PFC Davis was a member of Company L, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, U.S. Army. He received a letter from his fiancée just prior to going on a combat patrol. Davis put the letter inside his steel helmet. The helmet (containing his fiancées letter) was lost during an intense firefight between his infantry squad and an entrenched North Korean strong point near the Korean Demilitarized Zone on 12 August 1952 when Davis dove to the ground to avoid an enemy machine gun. PFC Davis heroic actions during that firefight were exemplary. He unselfishly fought the North Korean enemy, exposing himself to heavy automatic and small arms fire as he advanced on their position throwing grenades and directing rifle fire. Due to his heroic actions, Julius Davis was later awarded the Silver Star Medal for his bravery in combat against the North Korean military forces.
PFC Davis was awarded the Silver Star while recovering in the hospital
In late November 1952, PFC Davis contacted frostbite of the feet and was transferred to a medical facility in Japan. After two months of recovery, he was rotated back to the United States and assigned to Fort Smith, Arkansas. At Fort Smith, he was summoned to the post Commanding Generals office and questioned about the Korean Propaganda leaflet. The Major General informed Julius that he was following up on an inquiry from the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C. His duty status was unknown and not properly reported up the military chain of command due to his hospitalization in Japan for frostbite.
Photo of Inez Davis taken in 1950's
The North Koreans had changed the wording of the letter and also inserted a picture of Inez as a Caucasian female. Inez was Afro-American. They did not have his body so they had no way of knowing his race. Davis was discharged from active duty, 12 June 1953 with the rank of Corporal and transferred to the United States Army Reserve.
The Daily Inter Lake said about Davis on 12 June 1953:
Cpl. Julius J. Davis of Shreveport, La. is living proof that some Chinese Communist propaganda is a lot of bunk. Sometime last winter an enemy artillery shell landed among UN troops dug in on a frozen ridge. But instead of exploding with shrapnel it had a paper charge of propaganda leaflets. One-half of the leaflet was a picture of a beautiful gal with a very lonely and unhappy look about her. The other half contained a small picture of a dead GI lying prone on a battlefield, above a letter supposed to have been taken from the body. The GI in the picture is identified as Julius J. Davis. The letter is a very tearful, emotional message from Davis wife or girlfriend. The apparent intent of the message is to make all GIs who see it begin to think about loved ones back home and how they might die, too, and thereby wreck their morale. Whatever effect it actually had on UN troops who saw it, it is now giving Davis a big laugh. The leaflet has his name, serial number and outfit--the 15th Regiment of the 3rd Division--right, but that is all.
Julius and Inez Davis
After we spoke to Julius Davis and learned of the North Korean snafu we sent him a picture of the propaganda leaflet he had never seen so he could show it to his grandchildren.
In late March 2014, I heard from the very generous daughter of a British Korean War veteran who said:
My Father, John Bevan, fought in Korea for the British Army. He has passed away now, but I recently found amongst his things 3 copies of the propaganda leaflet using a letter to Julius Davis. I saw from your website that you showed Mr. Davis a copy of the leaflet so that he could show his grandchildren. I would be happy to send him one of mine, so that he can have an original copy to keep for his family.
Chinese patriotic leaflets
These leaflets have been called Korean War leaflets but I suspect the Chinese made them for their own troops and perhaps civilians as a form of patriotism. They all show Chinese military depicted very heroically and sometimes we even see North Koreans. None of the leaflets are printed on the back, they are all prepared in different colors, and their size indicates that could not be successfully dropped from aircraft. The first leaflet depicts Chinese and North Korean soldiers attacking and stepping on an American flag while a tiny American soldier flees. The title above the two Communist soldiers is:
Other leaflets in this series depict two children handing bouquets of flowers to Chinese soldiers returning from Korea with the heading Peoples Hero;
Consolidating National Defense
A Chinese soldier, sailor and airman with tanks behind and aircraft above and the title Consolidating National Defense; and a Chinese soldier and militiaman standing in front of a factory complex with the heading Defending the Homeland.
PEACE - No. 2 - October 1952
Courtesy of Guy Bud
We mention above that The Chinese also produced a newssheet entitled Peace (published by the Peace News Press). There were probably a number of such newspapers, some printed in North Korea and others printed by those that the Communist leaders referred to as useful idiots; left-wingers and fellow-travelers in western countries duped into believing that those under Communist domination were living in a workers paradise. The PEACE magazine depicted above has four sides of articles (mostly from US newspapers) of anti-war activity in various western nations. It also features an article about riots against military service in Brussels, the delegates of 180,000 Quakers appealing for peace in Korea, US airmen refusing to fly and Japanese youth opposing recruiting. The stories all come from reputable news sources such as the Associated Press and the United Press. It news sheet features a letter from Prisoner-of-War Private E. Achee. The prose style is quite good; not the political language found in most Communist propaganda.
Many leaflets used the theme of the unhappy wife or mother at home. A red monotone leaflet coded 127 depicts three officers trying to present a medal to a white-haired mother. The title is Give us our son, not a medal.
An interesting Communist leaflet in the form of a cartoon looks a lot like WWII Axis propaganda. The style is so odd for the North Koreans that I was suspicious of it at first glance. However, it was found with other leaflets that do appear to be genuine, so I am going to assume that this item was produced by North Korea for American troops. The leaflet depicts a wealthy American with a blonde on his lap. Banknotes and coins are on the table beside him and he holds a glass of champagne. Text at the left of the vignette is:
YOUR WIFE OR SWEETHEART?
The back is all text in a bright red ink:
GALLANT AMERICAN SOLDIERS
You are fighting a losing battle. (You are retreating you know.) While you shed your blood and endure unnecessary hardships, your wives and sweethearts are being entertained by your war-mongering, capitalistic leaders! Save your life. Come over to our lines. Cease this useless resistance and we will return you to your loved ones.
IT MAY NOT BE TOO LATE!
And so, at Last They Come Home
This leaflet bears no code and is printed on one side only. It is interesting in that it has several themes. The American ship bringing the troops home is battered and there is a tank with a bent main gun. It means the U.S. lost the war. The group of Americans walking in the water are led by a smiling officer, and this is meant to show the difference between the officers and enlisted men. Four enlisted men carry a casket, one with a wounded arm, another with a wounded leg. Two men follow carrying a stretcher. A sardonic poem says in part:
And so, at last they come home,
some without legs and arms,
others on stretchers,
still others securely nailed down
in a box two by six.
Eisenhower Stevenson Leaflet
I decided to add this leaflet because of the interesting portraits of Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson on the front. Eisenhower was both a 5-star general and the President of the
. Stevenson was an unsuccessful presidential candidate who later achieved fame when he stood up at the United Nations and accused the Soviet Union of placing intercontinental ballistic missiles in United States . This North Korean leaflet attempts to convince the American military that neither politician speaks for them. On the front the text is: Cuba
Who Represents You
The back is all text and says in part:
What do they say on the Korean War?
I do not have any prescription for bringing the thing to a decisive end
The only completely satisfactory solution would be total victory the price of that is high and involves the risk of extension of hostilities and world war.
Do Either of Them Want Peace - Like You?
Write PEACE on your ballot. Talk peace!
Eisenhower in the Wake of MacArthur
President Eisenhower was seldom mentioned on Communist leaflets. In this one, Chinese and Korean bayonets have forced him off wall which represents Korea. General MacArthur who was fired by President Truman years earlier is shown on the ground and says to Ike:
You are no better than I, are you?
The back of the leaflet mentions MacArthurs fall and his alleged futile promises off wiping out the Koreans with no difficulty. It can be used as a surrender pass to either the North Korean or Chinese troops.
The Big Shots
I like this leaflet because it shows President Harry Truman on vacation. Even today the Republicans and Democrats attack each other and point out how many days the President of the opposing political party has taken vacation. Here the Communist Chinese do the same. They also show Nelson Rockefeller who later became the Governor of New York State in 1959 and ran for president unsuccessfully three times, and did serve one term as Vice-President, starting in 1974. The propaganda text is the usual statement that the common soldier is dying to make the rich folks back home even richer.
The back of the leaflet depicts an 11 February 1951 anti-war letter from a Sergeant Otis K. Thomas to his parent in Somerton, Arizona. He mentions his daughter and there is a photograph of a young girl in a white dress.
North Korean Leaflets aimed at South Korean Soldiers
This amazing cartoon leaflet appears to be a Cold War product at first look. It does not look like the normal North Korean leaflets. However, when translated, the front makes it plain that it was produced by the North during the Korean War. The leaflet has four panels, One showing Americans pointing Koreans to war, the next showing American soldiers eating and drinking with Korean women and businessmen, the third showing a starving Korean family, and the final image showing lonely and unhappy South Korean soldiers. It also shows the year 1953 on the front and on the back says: It is now the third year since the war started, and tells their Southern Brethren to fight against South Korean leader Syngman Rhees government. The text is:
Traitors sell out their country.
The upper class engages in lustful activities.
The people live through starvation and pain.
The soldiers are struggling through death and the cold.
This North Korean leaflet is interesting because it seems to compare the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula with the American troops sent to help protect South Korea in 1950. The front of the leaflet depicts a Japanese officer holding a samurai sword and standing over dead Koreans while anti-Japanese Koreans march in the background.
The Japanese occupation of Korea started actually in 1910. The significance of 1919 is due to the March 1st Movement. After the Allied victory in WWI, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson stated his 14 points. Among them was self-determination which influenced some colonial nations that thought they would be freed. In general this did not happen. The European powers returned to their old colonial ways. There was a massive Korean protest on 1 March 1919 called the March 1st movement. It is considered one of the turning points in Colonial Korean era as the biggest nationwide movement for independence. Naturally, it was brutally suppressed by the Japanese. The movement is revered in both South Korean and North Korea since it was during the time of unified Korea and the entire peninsula rose up against the colonial invaders. Although not dated, the leaflet seems to be from about 1952. The leaflet is coded 206209. Those long code numbers usually indicate General Political Bureau of the Korean Peoples Army. The text on the front of the leaflet is:
1919 3.1 [March 1st Movement]
Didn't our ancestors fight for the independence and freedom of the nation from the Japanese Imperialist Invasion 33 years ago?
Long live the independence of Joseon [on an activist banner]
In South Korea they would have translated it as Long live the independence of Great Korea.
The South Koreans officially call themselves Great Republic of Korea. The North Koreans still call the Republic of Korea South Joseon after the name of the 1000-year-old Korean dynasty before Japan took over.
The back of the leaflet depicts an American soldier wearing the Eighth Army patch standing over dead Koreans just as the Japanese officer did. He has a big dollar sign on his chest. In the background, instead of freedom activists we see the North Korean Army. They have compared themselves to the Independence activists fighting against foreign invaders. The leaflet seems to be aimed at the ROK troops during the Korean War. The leaflet ends with a safe conduct pass. The text is:
Can't you see that the American Imperialist who invaded our newly liberated nation killed more of our countrymen than the Japanese invaders 33 years ago and is turning our great mountains into ashes?
If a single drop of the hallow blood of our ancestors who fought against the Japanese invaders run through you, do not fight against the People's Army who are your countrymen, but rise up against the American Imperialists!
This leaflet will guarantee safety for those willing to cross over to the People's Army's side.
Leaflet 513 – For whom are you fighting?
This Korean-language leaflet is aimed at Republic of Korea soldiers. The front depicts a happy Korean couple, and then an angry man alone on the battlefield. The back is blank. The text on the front is:
For whom are you fighting and for whom are you soldiering?
Lee Bum Su received conscription orders three times, but he managed to get out of it because his wife is the daughter of a village head. On this year’s fall festival, he will be indulging in all sorts of feasting and merry making.
You people have been forced to go to the front as soon as you get your conscription orders. You get only 4 hops of rice and go hungry, and you always get scolded and beaten, and you continue soldiering for the American robbers, not knowing when or where you will get killed.
The back is six additional paragraphs telling of the injustice of it all, the evil Americans and landlords and ends with a request that the troops revolt and impeach President Syngman Rhee.
The United Nations Answer to Communist Leaflets
Just as the Communists taught their soldiers not to read UN leaflets, the UN prepared numerous publications to warn their soldiers about the danger of Communist leaflets. The 4-page report above was part of an Intelligence Summary that depicted various Communist leaflets to help the Allied troops understand their techniques. Page 1 shows a leaflet directed at the Republic of Korea Army. Page 2 has a safe conduct pass in English and another Leaflet for the ROK Army. Page 3 depicts a Korean-language leaflet aimed at South Korean civilians and troops. The last page has another leaflet aimed at the ROK Army.
The Cold War - Communist Leaflets Continue to Fall
Long after the end of the shooting portion of the Korean War, both sides continued to paper each other with propaganda leaflets. The war never actually ended; both sides just stopped shooting and kept arming and digging in. 6 decades ago an armistice was signed and the peace talks never really got any further.
The United States continues to study the North Korean propaganda and propagate policy to combat it. In March 1966, the United States Information Agency published a research report titled North Korean Propaganda: Themes and Tactics. It introduces the subject:
As a Communist state North Korea is interested in “selling” Communism to South Korea. The brand of Communism it advocates is different in many respects from the Communism of traditional Marxism-Leninism. In the first place North Korean Communism is marked by strong nationalistic elements. Thus, while it pays lip service to the concept of proletarian internationalism, it appeals to such nationalistic ideals as independence, achievement, and national unity. Secondly, North Korean Communism is concrete rather than abstract. Its arguments do not rise from intellectual dialectics, but from the practical advantages that Communism is alleged to bring to agriculture, industry, and education. Finally, North Korean Communism is personal. When its virtues are being extolled, it refers constantly to individuals such as Kim Il-song a North Korean general, or frequently to an individual farmer for his achievements in exceeding some labor goal.
Another report titled North Korean Propaganda was written by the U.S. 7th PSYOP Group in March 1968. It said in part:
The North Koreas, despite the small size of their country have an enormous propaganda program directed against the U.S., the United Nations Command, and the Republic of Korea (ROK). North Korea also broadcasts radio programs to the ROK and to the Korean population in Japan – some 600,000 – almost incessantly. North Korea uses from 10 to 12 different transmitters and is on the air at almost any hour of the day…By conservative estimates North Korean radio broadcasting is three to four times that of the free world to North Korea. The North Korean Central Broadcasting Company, Radio Pyongyang, is thought to have a main station of at least 500 kilowatts. The Voice of the United Nations is 50 kilowatts.
I have over 100 North Korean leaflets ballooned or rocketed to South Korea in the years after the war. They probably printed and sent thousands of leaflets southward. Both sides were busy during the Cold War. My leaflets were picked up on daily patrols along the Korean demilitarized Zone (DMZ). I have often thought they would make a nice story, but the leaflets are long and very political and just finding a volunteer to translate a dozen of them would be a project. Perhaps one of these days So, let me just depict a few that are interesting and have been translated.
Anybody can come over to North Korea
I wrote a story several years ago about the use of maps on leaflets to either explain the military situation to troops or to help them defect. Here is a North Korean leaflet that show South Korean defector Cho Dae Hums route to North Korea and the gear he brought with him as a Republic of Korea Army Private. Some of the text is:
Summer is a good season for camouflage due to the thick forests. Electric trip wires can be overcome by rubber or leather gloves. Snowy, rainy or foggy days are good. Even clear days are OK. Private Cho Dae Hum of the 12th ROK Division describes how he got to North Korea and the possessions he carried with him.
US War Mongers
This leaflet depicts South Korean President Park Chung Hee helping U.S. President Jimmy Carter establish invasion bases in the South. Since Carter was president from 1977 to 1981, we know the leaflet was dropped during those years. Carter pounds in the stake that holds back a gun-toting U.S. soldier. The soldier is forcing ROK soldiers into a pipe labeled "U.S." that leads to their death. The text is:<
There will never be peace as long as Americans are in South Korea and when the war starts South Korean soldiers will be the first to die.
American GI's, do you think of your fate...
This Cold War leaflet depicts American big business making money on the blood of American GI's. The text on the back of the leaflet reads:
AMERICAN GI'S, DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FATE FOR THE MORROW?
U.S. GI's in South Korea!
You are now standing arms in hand, on the soil that belongs to Koreans, an alien land thousands of miles away from your own land, the United States.
For what purpose and for whom do you waste your dear youth in the land of other people?
The rulers who have sent you to South Korea are clamoring about "communist aggression" which never exists, and about "protection of the Free World," a jargon bankrupt long ago, to cover up their aggressive crimes.
But, you may see yourselves the stern reality that your occupation is prejudicial to the national interests of all Koreans.
Owing to your occupation the Korean people have been undergoing the tragedy of national split over 20 years and owing to your occupation large numbers of South Koreans are suffering misfortunes and hardships.
Isn't it clear that the occupation of South Korea by the U.S. army has nothing to do with the defense of the United States?
The "protection of the Free World" and so forth on the lips of your administrators are nothing but a smokescreen for concealing their wild ambition of aggression on Korea.
Don't be fooled!
And, be aware that your occupation of South Korea itself is the source of the war in Korea and the intolerable challenge to the Koreans!
When a war breaks out, it will bring you nothing but death. The crushing defeat the U.S. forces sustained in the Korean war, and the miserable tale of the armed spy ship "Pueblo" and its crewman -- these are more than sufficient to prove this.
Why should you die?
Each of the corpses of the American GI's who fall in the battlefield is the very source of profits for the U.S. ruling circles and the Wall Street warmongers.
American GI's! Rise up and demand the withdrawal of the U.S. troops. If you do not want to die a dogs death in an alien land for a few dollars as American mercenaries fighting against the Korean people!
If you want to live a life worthy of a human being with true human reason, refuse to level your guns at the innocent Koreans and return at once to your dear parents, wives, and children! Resolutely oppose the aggressive schemes of the present rulers of your country!
This is the only way for you to save your lives and secure happiness.
To this very day the North Koreans continue to produce virulent anti-American propaganda. The picture above uses the same sort of theme that the Soviets did when they depicted Teutonic knights throwing babies into the fire, or the British did when they depicted German or Japanese troops tossing babies into the air to be pierced by bayonets. Here, an American soldier is about to throw an innocent North Korean baby down a well. The text is:
Do not forget the
imperialist wolves! US
We have illustrated a very small percentage of the leaflets disseminated by the North Koreans and the Chinese People's Volunteer Army. The author is always interested in hearing about others. Interested readers are encouraged to write to him at email@example.com.
© 5 January 2006