The Cold War in Korea - Operation Jilli

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SGM HERBERT A. FRIEDMAN (Ret.)

One of the “dirty little secrets” of the Cold War was that from the years 1964 to 1968 the United States Air Force dropped leaflets over the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in an attempt to influence the citizens and ruling class of that Communist nation. Information on this operation first became available when the 7th Psychological Group confidential document A Report on Operation Jilli was declassified in 1979. The vast majority of facts that you will read in this article came directly from the Jilli Report. The manual notes that past leafleting operations have been very inefficient. A Johns Hopkins University study found that during WWII and the Korean War:

1. Formulae for leafleting was not based on sound criteria, but arose out of the judgment of individuals with varying degrees and fields of experience.

2. The release methods used in leafleting missions resulted in grossly excessive leaflet concentrations and grossly insufficient target coverage.

3. Four to sixteen times as many leaflets as were required to do the job were used on most missions.

4. Leafleting procedures employed in the past was incapable of achieving stated objectives.

In 1964, the 7th Psychological Operations Group (Korea detachment) was given the task of disseminating western news and propaganda into North Korea. The program was called “Operation Jilli.” “Jilli” is a Korean word meaning “truth.” Previously, the American code for dropping leaflets in Korea had been “Litterbug.” The Commander-in-Chief, United Nations Command was General Hamilton H. Howze. He hated the name and said, “Have the Koreans rename it.” The American Operations Officer (J-3) asked a Korean aide in the office the Korean word for truth. The response was “Jilli.” Thus, the fledgling operation was named. Several years later, it was renamed in Hawaii as a part of a program to rename various Pacific Theater operations. It was then called “Focus Truth.”

The plan called for American aircraft to fly along the southern edge of the demilitarized zone or well out over the open sea and drop millions of leaflets that would be carried by wind currents over North Korea. The content of the program was initially designed to present the Republic of Korea in a favorable light through information concerning economic, social and political progress and prosperity. The program of high-altitude drops was supplemented by light military aircraft, balloons, and other covert means of placing leaflets inside North Korea. Major Rodrick Renick, the Commanding Officer of the 7th PSYOP Group Korea Detachment is credited with developing the Operation Jilli working in partnership with Lieutenant Colonel David Underhill.

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C-130 Crew Member sends off a Box of Leaflets to North Korea

The United Nations had branded North Korea the aggressor because of their unprovoked attack on the South in 1950. The Communists wished to justify their actions to both the world and their own citizens. In South Korea the people could read the newspapers and see the results of the rebuilding of their country. In North Korea, the people saw only what their government allowed. They were told on a daily basis that the South had started the Korean War, that the South blocked reunification, and that their brothers in the south were starving and being plundered by Americans and other imperialists.

A 1966 United States Information Agency research report entitled North Korean Propaganda: Themes and Tactics notes:

Five major propaganda campaigns were identified which dealt individually with the following topics:

1. The rewards of the Communist form of government.

2. Reunification of North and South Korea.

3.The alleged incompetency and criminal activities of South Korean President Pak Chung-hui.

4. U. S. "imperialistic" meddling in Korea’s affairs.

5. Japan's Aggressive designs in Korea and East Asia.

A 1968 7th PSYOP Group report entitled North Korean Propaganda adds:

North Korean propaganda is devoted to the principle that one hundred repetitions is a good beginning. To the Westerner, North Korean propaganda sounds boring, repetitive, totally immersed in broad irresponsible generalizations, and replete with many falsehoods.

North Korea prints leaflets which it infiltrates into the Republic of Korea by balloon. It also tries to infiltrate propaganda in the Republic of Korea through the use of Japanese, American and other magazines. The propaganda is inserted into these magazines and sent into South Korea through the mails.

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C130 Static Line and leaflet Box use off the Coast of North Korea

The Basic Objectives and Directions of North Korean Psychological Warfare are listed in a more recent article entitled “Security Environment and Threat Assessment in the 1996-1997 Defense White Paper, published by the Department of Defense in Washington DC. The paper states that:

The basic objectives of North Korean psychological warfare are to create a favorable condition to communize the entire peninsula, and the directions can be categorized as follows:

First, to spread revolutionary indoctrination throughout the South Korean populace, that is, to instill anti-America and anti-government sentiment in the South and to instigate struggle against the South Korean government through revolutionary indoctrination of a whole range of South Korean society including workers, farmers, the youth, students, intellectuals and the military.

Second, to provoke struggles for anti-American independence and anti-dictatorship democratization among South Koreans, thus linking anti-American and anti-government struggle with the communization of the entire peninsula.

Third, to launch, consistently and aggressively, disguised peace offensives against South Korea, thus attempting to create a favorable atmosphere to communize the South by urging the United States to withdraw from the peninsula, precipitating the disintegration of the South, and putting forward false peace offensives to dress up the regime's image. 

Fourth, to induce internal discord within South Korean society and the disintegration of its system, North Korea has been launching political and ideological offensives to create chaos in South Korean society, drive a wedge between the people and the government, and provoke strife between the ruling elite and the military.

Fifth, to create a favorable international environment to incite revolution in the South. By continuously asserting the inevitability and righteousness of the revolutionary struggle in the South, North Korea hopes to gain support from the international community. 

There was no way for the democracies of the world to reach the people of North Korea. Television was unknown, radios were scarce and in the hands of the Communist elite and the newspapers were censored and controlled. What was known is that the Koreans had a high literacy rate and most could read. In fact, the CIA Fact Book states that the rate of literacy in North Korea is 99%. It was clear that leaflets and airdropped newspapers were the way to bring the truth to the people of North Korea, but the question was how to do it.

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7th PSYOP Group Crest

The first attempt to send leaflets north was by the South Korean government and entailed the use of balloons. The 1963 program met with limited success under the codename of Project Mole. The operation sent both leaflets and gift items to the north. Four launch sites were operated by an Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Team.  It involved 109 men, including a control group.  The launch site was located at Baengnyeongdo (White Wing Island), a small island in the Han River estuary. Because of its proximity to North Korea, it served as a base for intelligence activity by both Republic of Korea and United States forces. Numerous North Korean defectors fled to the island to escape economic and political conditions in their homeland.

In late 1963 The 7th PSYOP Group (then the United States Army Broadcasting and Visual Activity, Pacific) was assigned along with the 35th Troop Carrier Squadron, the task of improving techniques for the dissemination of leaflets over the North. Thus was born Operation Jilli.

The United States military published a manual entitled Handbook of Leaflet Dispersion via Balloon which discussed the characteristics of leaflet descent and dispersions, the J-100 balloon delivery system, the 170F balloon delivery system, and the J-9-10-300 balloon delivery system. The study was conducted under contract by a civilian governmental agency with American University. The formula in use for Operation Jilli was obtained through extensive testing from altitudes up to 50,000 feet during the years 1955-1958 in the western plains area of the United States. The military used the calculations to predict leaflet drift and dispersion. One former PSYOP officer told me that he could literally drop his leaflets on Kim Il-Sung’s doorstep from 200 miles away.

The introduction of the manual explains:

This handbook describes the process of delivering leaflets to specified target areas via balloons. It covers the technical aspects of sending up balloons from different types of launching sites, the calculations which must be made to deliver the payload to its destination, and dispersal in desired patterns. A section is included which describes the characteristics of leaflet descent and dispersion. The effects of long and short range drift, and considerations of altitude and weather conditions as they apply to the various balloon delivery systems are detailed along with the instrument checkout and launching instructions.

Another military manual written by U.S. Army PSYOP Officer David G. Underhill and published by the 7th PSYOP Group entitled Low, Medium and High Altitude leaflet Dissemination Guide gave accurate data on the size, shape and weight of leaflets and where they would settle when dropped from different altitudes. We have integrated some data from both of these military manuals into this report. Once all this information was gathered and charts drawn up, Operation Jilli was ready to be put into action.

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C-47 dropping leaflets

The first Jilli mission was flown on 30 June 1964. C-47 aircraft flying at altitudes up to 15,000 feet eventually dropped a total of over 19 million leaflets. Each C-47 mission carried about one and a half million leaflets, a weight of 3,000 pounds. Larger C-130 cargo aircraft were added to the program in 1965, resulting in 98 million leaflets being disseminated from 25,000 feet. Each C-130 carried 20,000 pounds of leaflets with quantities ranging from ten to sixteen to twenty million leaflets depending on leaflet size(s) used. I have seen one report that 600 million leaflets were dropped in a year but that number cannot be verified. We do know from published reports that the plan was to eventually drop one billion leaflets over North Korea annually.

Official statistics for the years 1964, 1965 and 1966 indicate that the total number of leaflets dropped each year were 18,850,000, 98,000,000 and 183,323,000. The major themes of the leaflets were:

1.     Economic progress in the Republic of Korea.
2.     Social progress in Republic of Korea.
3.     Economic and social progress in Republic of Korea.
4.     Education in the Republic of Korea.
5.     Radio frequencies
6.     News commentary
7.     Inducements for defections.
8.     Anti-Communism.
9.     Kim Il-sung.

The 7th PSYOP Group Unit History of 1967 mentions the numbers of leaflets dropped that year:

Printing production records soared. The 7th PSYOP Group as responsible for the printing of over 7 billion propaganda leaflets for Vietnam and Korea, recording a 300% increase over calendar year 1966. Of the 7 billion leaflet produced, 282 million of these were dropped from aircraft during 22 high altitude missions in support of the North Korea program, JILLI. This registered a 35 percent increase in the JILLI program over calendar year 1966.

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The patch of the 35th TAS

Airman First Class Sam McGowan was a loadmaster in the 35th Troop Carrier Squadron at Naha Air Force Base from February 1966 to August 1967 and flew Jilli missions. His first Jilli mission was shortly after his arrival on Okinawa about March 1966. He says:

We were operating off the coast of North Korea and the presence of MiGs wasn't just a threat, they were there. A Jilli mission could occur in daylight or after dark. Since those of us in the back were working our butts off, we couldn't see outside but we'd hear the cockpit crew talking about the MiGs that were shadowing us. We were always conscious of the fact that we were sitting ducks if they decided to come after us. It took around half an hour to get rid of the load, and by the time all of the boxes were gone, we'd be worn out. We had been told in a briefing that one Jilli aircraft had been lost to MiGs. Perhaps the briefers wanted to keep us alert.

The Jilli missions were predicated on the winds aloft being out of the east, so they were always short notice. Missions were flown as soon as a crew could be rounded up and the airplane loaded. The whole thing was bizarre. You'd be sitting around in the barracks or at home and all of a sudden the phone would ring and the next thing you knew, you were on your way to the flight line for a mission to North Korea. There was no such thing as being on alert for a mission. The squadron would round up the first qualified people they could find. Being “qualified” meant you had been on a leaflet mission and had been signed off.

The airplane would be positioned behind a hangar, parked facing the road, with the tail toward the hangar. That way it was out of sight from the flight line and anyone passing by on the road couldn't tell what was going on. Once the crew arrived at the airplane, the crew chiefs were not allowed on board. The load would come in on an Army flatbed truck with a tarp over the boxes. Because the contents were classified, only one aerial port forklift driver would have anything to do with the load.

The squadron had rigged up a special rig for the mission. Instead of removing the dual rails and installing skate-wheels, a set of pallets had been rigged with skate-wheels mounted on top of them. They were designed so that they would interlock. An oxygen console with several very long hoses was positioned toward the middle of the airplane. The forklift driver would pick the wooden pallets off of the truck and position them at the rear of the airplane, then the loadmasters would take them off the pallets and move them forward into the airplane and position them, then tie them down. It was hard, backbreaking work, and the heat and humidity did not help. Although it never happened on an airplane when I was aboard, there were several incidents when some of the loadmasters developed the Bends. Our flight surgeon said it was impossible to get the bends at that altitude. He went on a mission and did everything the loadmasters did, and came down with a case of them himself and was hospitalized! Thereafter, one crew of loadmasters would load the airplane and another would fly the mission. It was as a result of those incidents that aviation medicine became aware that Bends were not solely a function of changes in pressure, that fatigue was also a factor.

As soon as the airplane was loaded, we'd head out for North Korea. It seems to me that by the time we reached altitude it was time to start getting ready to drop. In addition to the five loadmasters, we had a technician from the altitude chamber at Kadena Air Force Base aboard and our own squadron medic. They flew all of the leaflet missions. We also had a second navigator on board and the two navigators would back each other up to insure that we were outside the 12-mile limit.  

Other pilots and crew discussed the Jilli flights in some detail. They seem to enjoy mentioning the various “screw-ups” that occurred on missions. Captain Dave Horn was the liaison between the 35th Troop Carrier Squadron and the 7th PSYOP Group. He says:

We test dropped boxes from a UH1 helicopter and played with the box cut to find a point where the box could take some handling but was weak enough to come apart before terminal velocity. The 10 test drops we made in the Naha area were filmed. There was a reason the boxes where cut the way they were. They typically broke open at about 100 feet below the aircraft.  This all worked as planned until someone decided to start taping them. A box that was taped up too securely landed on the ground and did some damage. They broke a lot of static lines. You could see a few boxes from each load unopened at the end of the ramp.  

I attended “leaflet school” and received a certificate from the 7th PSYOP Group dated 5 April 66.  We flew some test missions in the Naha area before that but no operational missions until a few weeks after the school.  The Army had their computations all screwed up and they had to fix them before we would fly for real.  They had no clue about density altitude and averaging wind vectors. Later, it turned out the computations were reasonably accurate.  Few knew that each drop result was verified.   It took about 6 months but the PSYOP guys would overlay the verified plot over the Navigator’s predicted fallout and it was amazing. Then there was the night on a Jilli when we spilled a load of sensitive stuff into South Korea.  The paper was on the ground right where we said it would be.

Loadmaster Gary Peters says:

I kicked a lot of paper over Korea. A lot of static lines broke. On the Korea missions we were dropping over clouds with a full moon or close to it. It was bright. I could see those boxes drop a long way and never open. I always wondered if we nailed some poor SOB on the ground. I never heard that we caused any damage. We did hear that some Vietnamese leaflets got mixed in with the Korean leaflets and shook up the Koreans and Chinese. That was in August 1966. I remember flying Jilli mission every other night for a week or so. The wind must have been just right.

Sid Griest was a pilot in the 41st Tactical Airlift Squadron at Naha from late 1968 to early 1971. He says:

I never flew a PSYOP mission, but later talked to the Naha guys that did. The C-130A's at Naha had several different missions dropping PSYOP leaflets in North Korea, North Vietnam, South Vietnam and Laos; and counterfeit currency in NVN. All of these were printed in Okinawa and on one occasion the shipments got mixed up; with the result that a load of phony NVA currency got dropped over North Korea. I've always carried in my mind a picture of some North Korean holding a North Vietnamese dong banknote and wondering just where he was supposed to spend it; or perhaps thinking, "crazy American Imperialists.”

Navigator Captain Bob Wyatt joined the 35th Troop Carrier Squadron in May 1968. He adds:

I went on seven leaflet missions with at least two drops each mission over South Vietnam or Laos. I dropped over 97 million pieces of paper.  All of my missions were under the name of “Frantic Goat.”  I was sent to Korea on a Jilli mission once or twice, but the winds were never favorable so we turned around and brought our paper back home.

The boxes were serrated along the edges with a one inch cut every other inch, and the static line was interwoven inside the box.  Due to differing quality control, some boxes split open on the ramp and some didn't open at the end of the static line.  One night I heard what sounded like an explosion come from the cargo compartment.  Since I was observing the other navigator work I took a look to see what caused the noise.  The static line had pulled out of the forward screw when the box hit the air stream.   Luckily the loadmaster only lost the one earpiece to his headphone when the bolt and cable struck the headset.  Obviously the box did not split open.

Retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel Bob Evans was a navigator assigned to the 35th Troop Carrier Squadron at Naha Air Base, Okinawa. He remembers the Jilli missions:

I was a captain (navigator in C-130As) assigned to the 35th Troop Carrier Squadron, 6315th Operations Group at Naha Air Base. The unit changed designation probably sometime in 1966 or 1967 to 35th Tactical Airlift Squadron, 374th Tactical Airlift Wing.

In early 1966, I was one of five navigators tapped to support the U.S. Army’s 7th Psychological Operations Group by dropping leaflets over North Korea. The code name was initially Jilli (“Truth” in Korean) but later changed to Focus Truth. The 7th PSYOP Group had, through experimentation, devised ballistics for several sized leaflets. With the aerodynamic tables, we could now drop leaflets from high altitudes and determine where the center mass would land and how much spread the leaflets had from the center point. The 7th PSYOP Group came up with two types of leaflets: an auto-rotator (rotates around the center axis) and a flip-flop. The greatest spread factor of any of the two-hundred or so leaflets for which data was developed was the 6x3-inch leaflet on 20 pound paper with a ground rate of descent of 2.5 feet per second and a spread factor of 1.11, contrasted with the 6x3 inch leaflet on 16-pound paper, with a ground rate of descent of 4.7 feet per second and a spread factor of 1.04. The auto-rotator would stay in the air for a long time but with a smaller spread. On the other hand, the flip-flop would result in a widespread area but would not float as long and therefore would not travel as far when dropped from the same altitude. Within each category, the size of the leaflet and paper weight also affected the float time and spread.

The leaflet boxes were comprised of cardboard that had been sliced open on each side and then taped back together. The webbing was mainly on the outside of the box, and inserted into slots where it came together at the top. Then a heavy parachute strap was tied around the ‘cross’ at the bottom of the box and held up while leaflets were packed into the box. Then the flaps were folded over and taped. When the parachute strap was tied to the aircraft and the box pushed out of the aircraft, the box would literally explode releasing all of the leaflets. Initially, we had problems, because the army guys would tape up the boxes too well, and when they reached the end of the parachute strap, they would break the cord and fly off just like a rock. The army found a box manufacturer that perforated the boxes, and that solved the problem.

If we dropped leaflets over water near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea, they would be blown into North Korea. We could put a leaflet into every square mile of Korea except for the area in the far northeast portion of North Korea. I recall our deepest penetration was calculated at 250 nautical miles. We would normally drop about 10 million leaflets, later with smaller leaflets the count rose to about 16 million. Basically, there are two bands of winds blowing from west to east, midway, north and south of the equator. During spring, summer, early fall, in the case of North Korea, the wind has a more southwest component. This allowed our leaflet drops to begin as early as mid-late April and continue into September.

We would climb near the drop area, and I would compute the winds every 5,000 feet. Once at drop altitude (usually 25,000 to 30,000 feet), I would determine an average wind speed and direction. In Korea, we had a fixed flight path, to include a rectangular "drop and turn-around box" out over the water on the west coast. Crew members at the end of the aircraft carried a stick to hold to place one end in the rollers to keep the boxes from sliding off the rollers on the aircraft floor. The aircraft flew in a nose-high attitude so it took no effort to dispense. Crew member just had to insure one box at the proper interval Depending on how many boxes we had; I would determine the drop interval for maximum coverage of the area. An average drop interval was usually around twenty to thirty seconds. In thirty minutes, we would release up to 100 boxes of leaflets weighing about 135 pounds each.

To print the leaflets, Army PSYOP personnel went to the United States Information Service and searched through their files to find appropriate photographs reflecting South Korean activities. That is where most early leaflet materials were obtained. Major Renick, Commanding Officer of the 7th PSYOP Korea Detachment later hired a military photographer that understood the needs of the program. Eventually, five Korean military were made part of the campaign; A Korean captain was made the liaison officer.

We also found out that the defectors sometimes read the leaflet in an outhouse and then dropped it into the waste; it was a death sentence if you were caught with a leaflet. When I left Okinawa, the PSYOP folks were working with a cigarette company trying to come up with a tobacco paper with similar characteristics to regular paper. This way, more people would pick up the leaflet if they could smoke it after they read it.

Our ideal Jilli drop location was over the East China Sea, but at times the winds were mostly southerly, so the only drop path was parallel to the DMZ. Coverage was not that good, but we never took a load home. We always dropped because the load was fragile and couldn’t be used again. We always launched from Naha based on forecast winds and typhoon position. From notification to takeoff was about two hours for the crew and then we had about 2 hours flying time to the drop location.

We kept at least two extra leaflet loads at Osan Air Base in South Korea as well as a “hot” load and a spare load in Okinawa. The leaflet loads were somewhat perishable; after being stored for a while sometimes the boxes needed tape repair. When drop conditions were favorable, we would launch from Naha with a load, fly directly to the drop area, and drop the leaflets. This in and of itself was a major undertaking. We had about four “kickers” that would be strapped to the aircraft and hold the boxes from rolling off the rollers into open space where they dispersed the box of leaflets. There was also a monitor from the 15th Physiological Training Flight trained in high altitude flights to constantly monitor the kickers for altitude sickness. We would be flying at 150 knots (the airspeed limit with the cargo door open and ramp down) with everyone on 100 percent oxygen. The kickers would have to pre-breathe 100 percent oxygen for thirty minutes before we opened the doors, because they would be working so hard manhandling the boxes at high altitudes.

If the drop conditions remained favorable, we would recover at Osan, refuel, reload, and drop again. I had four double-drops. One time after a double-drop, the conditions remained so favorable that we recovered at Osan, and a replacement C-130 loaded with leaflets, kickers, and aerospace physiology techs launched from Naha with two non-Jilli navigators. I got a few hours of sleep waiting for the Naha aircraft. One of the navigators joined my original crew to navigate them back to Naha. I got on the replacement aircraft and flew a third leaflet drop mission. When we finished the drop, I sacked out while the crew navigator took us back to Naha. That was the only three-drop mission ever flown.

Sometimes a typhoon would enter the East China Sea, but the winds were westerly, and we could not get good coverage from where we normally dropped—even though that was about thirty miles north of the DMZ over international waters. The PSYOP guys and I had discussed several times the idea of going further north in ten-mile increments until we were dropping thirty miles north of our most northerly approved track (sixty miles north of the DMZ). The army coordinated with the Pacific Air Forces, and our proposal was approved.

My last Jilli mission, and also the last mission flown by the Air Force (as far as I know) was on November 28, 1967 when we flew our east-west drop leg 30 miles north of our normal track (about 60 miles north of the DMZ) over the East China Sea (again because of wind direction) directly toward China, coming within 30 miles of the Chinese Changshan Islands. Less than 2 months later the USS Pueblo was seized by the North Koreans and the Air Force suspended all Jilli flights. The November 1967 mission was the last Jilli mission ever! On April 15, 1969, a Navy EC-121 aircraft on a reconnaissance mission was shot down by a North Korean MiG over the Sea of Japan, ninety miles off the coast of North Korea.

Flight Engineer Staff Sergeant Walt (Cecil) Hebdon mostly remembers the cold:

I flew several leaflet drops into North Korea while in the 35th at Naha. The thing I remember the most was how cold it was and that we always came back with at least 1 cracked NESA window. (Note: the three front windows were a laminate of a plastic panel with a coating on one side sandwiched between the inner and other panes of plate glass). We tried to keep the flight deck warm, but with the freezing temperature outside the windows often cracked. The crew chiefs hated us, as it is a hard job to replace a NESA window what with all the screws to remove then the sealant to get the window out. The windows were changed by maintenance personal when we returned. I remember there would be 1 man working outside the aircraft (to turn the screws) and 1 man on the flight deck holding the nuts.   Then there would be the relief mechanics sitting in a truck with the heater going to stay warm. The screws were so small they had to work without gloves to do this job and they could only work for a few minutes before their hands froze. 

Walt also told me another story that combines both leaflets and the weather on the Korean peninsula:

Many of the refugees that came south from North Vietnam had our PSYOP leaflets stuffed into their pants and jackets to provide insulation and keep them warm. Another victory for PSYOP!

Pete Brown recalls a story he heard:

There was a great war story about the box that failed to open and dropped through a chow hall on the Korean DMZ while some Army General was addressing the troops. They thought WW III had started!

Airman Sam McGowan thinks that Brown errs. He says:

Pete Brown told about a story of a box that failed to open that fell into a building where an Army general was addressing the troops on the DMZ in Korea. I think that incident, if it actually happened, was in South Vietnam, not Korea. All of the Jilli missions I flew were out over the water outside the 12-mile limit from around 27,000 feet. Some of the FACT SHEET missions, on the other hand, were flown right over the DMZ that divided the two Vietnams. We flew a race track orbit between the South China Sea and the Laotian Border - which wasn't that far - and dropped on the straight legs right over or just north of the DMZ.

Dave Underhill planned many of the missions and he agrees:

The potential flight path was selected from a permanently authorized flight path that stretched from the East Coast to out over the water to a rectangular box on the west coast.  We could actually disseminate while descending to permit covering close-in areas without danger of dumping leaflet into South Korea. The whole idea in my program was stand off delivery without being shot down. Prior to the beginning of the favorable weather season (generally Mid-April to late September), I used actual 1964-mission weather reports to plot drops from 25,000 feet.  From the very first mission in 1964, I would submit an after-action report with projected coverage overlaid on a map of North Korea.  (Did the same on SEA maps for missions there.)  By the way, no aircraft were lost in Southeast Asia using my technique.  They were in the Korean War and WWII.

When they authorized a second C-130 in 1966, I proposed we stock leaflets at Suwon (K-13) where our C-47 aircraft were based.  We could rig the boxes for C-130 dissemination.   After dropping a C-130 load launched from Okinawa, we could land at K-13, load again, and drop another 10,000,000 leaflets. We could launch two C-130s from Okinawa. They land, reload and disperse two more loads from our prepositioned stock. That is forty million leaflets in less than three hours.

Packing the C130 was quite a job. The floor of the C-130 was covered with rollers on both sides of the aircraft. The boxes were stood on end.  They were too fragile to stack.   They were loaded by the aircraft crew, including me. Remember, we were short on manpower.  The aircraft would fly at 120-130 knots in a nose-high attitude.   A stick held by crew members would hold the boxes until ready for release.   Release was pre-determined based upon planned duration of the dissemination. I always wanted as many passes as possible, and the aircraft commander wanted to get the hell out of as soon as possible. At most I could sometimes hope for two passes or a second partial pass depending on wind direction.

I spoke to retired Colonel Charles V. Nahlik who replaced Dave Underhill and ran the Jilli Operation against North Korea while a Captain from 1966-1968. He told me:

Dave was nearing the end of his tour in 1966 when I got there.  I was initially in the Operations Plans office but was asked if I wanted to become a replacement/understudy for this strange Major who specialized in dropping leaflets and timing their fall from atop the inside of our printing plant. He gave me a book to read about how John Hopkins University had conducted a study on dropping leaflets of various sizes and weight of paper.  It was very interesting and I was hooked.

About Jilli - During the months from March to October the prevailing winds were from the south so I had a C-130 and crew on standby along with prepositioned loads of leaflets in a Quonset by the runway. I would get a phone call from the weather people at Naha Air Base that the winds were starting to shift and would soon be blowing from south to north in Korea along the DMZ.  They gave me the winds at levels from 5000 to 30000 feet, I made the calculations and if they were good, I notified the Operations Center at Naha Air Base who would alert the crew. By the time I got to Naha, the airmen were at the Quonset hut loading the pallets of leaflets onto the aircraft. Meanwhile the crew was in Operations getting their briefings before takeoff. We departed Naha and while we were in flight, the news would reach us from Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC) that we had approval for the leaflet drop.  In the two years I was flying, we never got turned back.  When the Pueblo incident happened, [The North Koreans attacked and captured the U.S. spy ship Pueblo 23 January 1968 while on the high seas] I was called by CINCPAC and told that we could not fly until the incident was over.

Since the Jilli leaflets were an army load, I always brought two soldiers along to assist the airmen and help the navigator if he had a question about leaflet drift and where to fly. They never actually needed help since we gave lessons during the winter and early spring to new navigators. Most of the time we just helped to flip the leaflet boxes down from the “standing on end position” to the “flat position” and shoved them towards the back of the aircraft. The Air Force crew appreciated any help as working at high altitudes on oxygen can be tiring. We all collapsed on the return flight. The Load Master watched the timer light and every so many seconds, when it flashed, he would give the box a final shove out the back.

To increase our drop ability, I worked it out with Ft. Bragg to box and ship leaflets to Osan AFB (Korea) where I obtained another Quonset hut. Ft Bragg printed and packed the leaflets and the boxes were shipped directly there. After making the first drop, we flew into OSAN, reloaded and made another drop on the way home.  I can't recall the totals but this enabled us to drop perhaps an additional 100,000 million leaflets each year.  

Underhill continues:

There were some problems. On their very first mission, I got a call from Korea Detachment saying the people along the DMZ were up to their butt in leaflets.  I asked for their winds aloft report in plotting the mission.  Where the DMZ takes a rather sharp turn to the Southwest when traveling West, I calculated there would be 1,100,000 leaflets in South Korea.  So much for “smart” navigators. They failed to consider the natural dispersion in still air effect. From 25,000 feet it is substantial. You need to add 6,250 feet on both sides of the flight path when flying into the wind. They were away from the DMZ and still dropping leaflets over a mile wide into the South Korean side.

Bob de Hass flew Cold War missions against North Korea after Operation Jilli was terminated. Apparently, not much had changed:

During my time, the leaflet mission was known as “Frantic Goat.” Missions to Korea were called "Focus Truth." The Korean leaflets depicted photographs of city traffic, high-rise buildings and Koreans lounging on the beaches enjoying the good life available in the South. These were "hurry-up" scenarios as it was all predicated on winds blowing on-land from off the coast allowing proper dispersal into our intended area and didn't occur favorably that often.

Numerous times, boxes burst open while leaving the aircraft ramp, with leaflets blowing back inside.  Most ended on top of the cargo door or along its sides, or scattered throughout the cargo compartment.  Once empty of boxes, and with the aircraft closed up, we would police up all the leaflets. Didn't want to piss off the crew chief, you know.

All during this period other means of dissemination were being tested and tried. For instance, starting in 1965 there was a program to deliver leaflets by water float, using the Korean rivers, tides and ocean currents to deliver them. Much of this information was gathered from another 7th PSYOP Group manual; The Propaganda Float in Psychological Operations. Curiously, since the United States was involved in the Vietnam War at the exact same time as the North Korean operations, many of the techniques created for Jilli were also used against the North Vietnamese as part of Operation Fact Sheet. The object was always to find a better way of getting the truth to a captive audience. The manual explains the benefits of the float:

The ability to present a comprehensive packet of selected gift items and printed media in a single float marks the biggest single advantage of floats over other delivery methods. Although the target audience is limited primarily to fishermen, security forces and costal and river inhabitants, the receipt of a single float permits the operator to place the “full story” into the hands of the target members. Thus, use of floats opens up almost unlimited possibilities for employment of psychological operations against a target audience that has, for the most part, a vehicle for defection. The very least to be gained on even a limited program is increased security precautions on the part of the target area security forces.

The handbook goes on to mention specific gifts that North Korean fishermen defectors stated were desirable. Among them were cigarette holders (fishermen’s hands are usually wet); cigarette lighters; nylon cord; sunglasses; and ball-point pens. Non-fisherman defectors preferred work clothes; winter underwear; socks; undershirts; gloves and cloth among others. The manual concludes:

In selecting gift items for the float program, the widest variety possible should be obtained. No “standard” float package should be created; rather a variety of packages should be disseminated on each mission, and as far as possible each mission should include a new variety of float packages.

The reasoning behind this recommendation is that if a standard package was created, it would be very easy for North Korean security forces to check the packages found by fishermen and tell if anything had been hidden away. By keeping the contents random, the security forces would never know what had originally been inside the float.

The float operation was fairly successful. One fisherman defector stated:

One morning in May or June, we were fishing near Mu Island. I was taking a nap after having cast the fishing net, when I was awakened by noise made by other crewmen. I saw the men reading five or six South Korean booklets of different types. The men said that these publications had been packed in a vinyl bag found floating on the water.  One of the crewmen had picked it out of the water with a basket-type scoop net. While the crewmen were reading the material, the chief engineer of the boat, who was also the officer in charge of Party activity on board, confiscated the material and took it to his room. The chief engineer said that this material was from South Korea.

Leaflet Development

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Printed leaflet sheets stacked high and ready for cutting.

The themes of the Jilli leaflets were developed by the Propaganda Branch and the Korea Detachment of the 7th PSYOP Group. Each leaflet was carefully planned and designed to make the most efficient use of pictures and text and leave as little blank space as possible. Photographs were used where possible as they were found to be more powerful than cartoons and drawings in influencing a target audience. The margins were one-quarter inch all around to allow for the “play” of high-speed printing presses.  The paper whipped back and forth as it passed through the very high speed presses, resulting in very poor registration.  That was acceptable when printing a single color but unacceptable in a multi-colored leaflet.

Once the leaflet was tested and approved, the final draft was forwarded to J-3, United Nations Command.  The UNC had a panel composed of non-qualified PSYOP people that passed on the leaflets. 

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Boxes full of leaflets ready for transport.

The Jilli leaflets were designed for long drift and wide dispersion. Based on wind direction, speed and rate of descent, leaflet drift of over 175 miles from a 15,000 foot release altitude and 250 miles from a 25,000 foot release altitude were claimed. A leaflet “mix” was dropped on each mission in an attempt to assure that the widest possible amount of propaganda was read by each finder. One problem faced by the Korean detachment was the urgent need for Vietnamese-language leaflets for the war in Southeast Asia. This requirement drained 7th PSYOP resources and made serious inroads into the ability of PSYOP printing units to produce leaflets for Korea. One answer was to make the Jilli leaflets smaller, allowing more to be carried by the C-130 cargo aircraft. Because the smaller leaflets had dispersion problems, the aircraft had to make additional passes along the North Korean border.

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Specialist Kaliser

One of the ways that the printers tried to solve the problem is mentioned by Specialist Fifth Class (SP5) Dennis Kaliser of the 15th PSYOP Detachment, 7th PSYOP Group, a Lithographic Platemaker during 1966 and 1967. He says:

It may be worthwhile to mention that some of these Jilli leaflets were printed in Okinawa along with the Vietnamese leaflets. In fact, the imposition of the Vietnamese leaflets on the web press form left a smaller rectangular open area in one corner which otherwise would have been wasted paper. It was in that corner that a Jilli leaflet was sometimes inserted, flanked by the Vietnamese leaflets.

The most favorable winds for leaflet drops occurred each year from Mid-April to mid-September. When the weather was deemed favorable, the USAF was alerted and the leaflet aircraft sent north. The navigator checked the speed and direction of the winds and dropped his leaflets at the appointed time and altitude.

The major theme of the Jilli leaflet was to convey the truth about South Korea. It was never the intention of the PSYOP Group to encourage defections, but the leaflets apparently did so and many of the defectors stated that the leaflets had influenced their decision. The leaflets depicted consumer goods available in the South and told the people that the economy there was geared toward developing small industries that contributed to better living standards and quality of life. They pointed out that industry in the North was aimed at producing weapons of war and goods to sell for hard cash to help the Communist leadership, and did little to ease the hardships of the common people.

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North Korean leaflets sent to the South and picked up by members
of the U.S. Army's 2nd Division along the Demilitarized Zone

North Korean Reaction

Both the Jilli report and the military manuals go into great detail about the reaction of the North Koreans. Dozens of interviews with defectors are quoted and North Korean leaflets are depicted showing how the dictatorship was forced to first answer the questions posed by the Jilli leaflets, and later began to copy their size, style and use of color in their own leaflets sent to the South. When Jilli leaflets depicted the Ulsan industrial complex, North Korea prepared a similar leaflet showing their own heavy industry. When Jilli leaflets spoke of the colleges and universities in the South, similar leaflets showing educational institutions like Kim Il-sung University were prepared by the North. The two nations dueled on subjects like railroads, with both pointing out their railroad transportation systems, but the Jilli leaflets also reminding the readers that in the South everyone was free to use the trains to go anywhere. Both sides produced leaflets showing the goods for sale in their department stores.

Dave Underhill told me about the North Korean reaction to the Jilli leaflets. He said:

We had a Captain in Korea on temporary duty at the time, and I asked him to stop by 8th Army G-2 (Intelligence) and see if we were getting any reaction out of North Korea. He walked in, and was totally ignored as chaos reigned in the office. He waited a while and then said in a loud voice: “Are you guys getting any reaction out of North Korea?” He said you could have heard a pin drop. North Korea was on full military alert, and was moving troops. He left them content with the knowledge that the North Korean government was reacting to our leaflet drops and the movement was not an independent action on their own.

Some of the countermeasures (indirect indicators) taken by the North are mentioned in the report. For instance, areas were put off-limits for policing; civilians were forbidden to read leaflets, ordered to immediately turn them in and warned of punishment if found reading leaflets. At the same time, military personnel were ordered to hand in all leaflets to their cadre and told that the leaflets were treated with poisonous chemicals and that if they touched them, their fingers might decay. Students were told to report any leaflet drops to their teachers.  

The themes and techniques used in the Jilli program were so effective that they apparently considered worthy of copying by the North Koreans. They changed their subject matter, approach, leaflet layout and size to approximate those of the South. They also went to great pains to counter the Jilli propaganda.

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American and Western newspapers and publications
forged by the North Koreans to carry their propaganda
to South Korea and the West.

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Some envelopes bearing forged stamps and
watermarks produced by North Korea to send
their propaganda to South Korea and the West. 

North Korea made a concentrated effort to introduce Communist propaganda into the Republic of Korea concealed within counterfeited or genuine Free-World publications. The propaganda consists of denunciations of the Republic of Korea Government, speeches by North Korean leaders, articles on the unification of Korea by circumvention of the United Nations, and even reprints of North Korean magazines. In most instances as many as one thousand of the publications were mailed from North Korea to Eastern Europe or France each month and from there to the Republic of Korea. By the mid-1960s fifty-seven such publications were known to South Korean intelligence. North Korea also counterfeited both U.S. and French stamps as part of this postal propaganda operation.

North Korea has also been accused of counterfeiting the currency of other nations, and specifically that of the United States. In recent years the quality of the $100 counterfeits has been so high that the Treasury Department has called them “super notes.” The primary goal of the forging operation seems to have been to provide funds to support the bankrupt North Korean economy; a secondary aim has apparently been to help destabilize western economies.

The Leaflets

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Because the leaflets were dropped over North Korea where they were immediately swept up and destroyed, Jilli leaflets are extremely rare. Over the course of almost 40 years I have seen just a few. Several military friends have helped in translating these leaflets. I want to give special thanks to First Lieutenant John Koh who was an Interpreter for the Army of the Republic of Korea and unselfishly volunteered to translate a number of these Korean-Language leaflets for our readers. He is a patriot.

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The genuine 1 won North Korean banknote

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The Jilli Reproduction Banknote and Safe Conduct Pass

One of the more interesting Jilli concepts was the reproduction of a North Korean Central Bank 1 won note of 1959 with the back bearing a safe conduct pass message. The banknote leaflet was printed by the 7th PSYOP Group Japan Detachment. The front of the leaflet was an excellent reproduction of the North Korean one won note. The back consisted of the one won note border, the Republic of Korea National Flag in full color, a message indicating it was a Safe Conduct Pass, and the signature of the Chairman of the Joint Military Staff, Republic of Korea Armed Forces.

The idea for using a North Korean one won note was to enable the target audience to "hide" the bill by placing it in with other bills.

Much of the technical data of this particular leaflet is known. The size of the banknote is 5-27/32 by 2-7/16. Twenty-pound paper was used. The number of leaflets per pound was 656. The V sub o (ground rate of descent; or falling rate): 1.5 feet per second. The spread factor (R sub T divided by T sub O): .14 (point fourteen). The slow falling rate of 1.5 feet per second combined with a very small spread factor of .14 results in long drifting from the release point, but with limited ground coverage (thereby resulting in increased leaflet density on the ground).

For example, for each mile of drift, the spread on the ground is .14 miles. This resulted in 1.11 miles of dispersion (along the direction of the blowing wind) for each mile of drift. For standoff delivery against North Korea, the most common leaflet used had a falling rate of 1.8 feet per second and a spread factor of .91. This resulted in deep penetration into North Korea with .91 miles of spread for each mile of drift. A fifty mile drift to the center of the leaflet mass using a falling rate of 1.8 and spread factor .91 resulted in a spread over forty-five miles. This leaflet enabled the delivery system to place leaflets in Pyongyang with closest aircraft approach of 110 miles. Drops occurred from altitudes up to 25,000 feet using C-130 aircraft.

The banknote leaflet is known in three versions. Two are almost identical with the only change being the signature of the Chief of Staff of the Army of the Republic of Korea. The third note has not been disseminated. It is apparently stored in various secret locations in the unlikely event that renewal of hostilities on the Korean peninsula occurs once again.

What was the result of these leaflets? A number of defectors were interviewed about the leaflets and some of their comments follow:

The facsimile of North Korean paper-money on the safe conduct pass was so hard to distinguish from real money that it was occasionally used to purchase goods at stores.

I saw the one won note safe conduct certificate at the Pantu Museum in Kaesong. I notice that some of the other visitors around me in the museum were also staring at it for some time, amazed at the nearly complete similarity between the one-won note on the leaflet and the real North Korean one-won note.

A warning on the bulletin board of the North Korean Social Safety Detachment:

South Korea has spread leaflets similar to North Korean money. As a result, there is a possibility of economic disorder. Those having leaflets in their possession are warned to report them without delay. Persons submitting leaflets will be rewarded to the value of the money leaflets.

The curious thing about this operation is that none of the Americans who designed the leaflet realized the value of a 1 won note in North Korea. It seemed such a petty sum. The banknote vignette was used simply because it would catch the eye and was sure to be picked up by anyone who saw it on the ground. One 7th Group PSYOP officer told me later that he was against the printing of the banknote leaflet. He said:

The one won note represented about 6 weeks' pay for a North Korean Army private. If he was found to be carrying one won, it would be cause for suspicion.

Worse, the first message reaching the target audience would be one of disappointment. Half the leaflets could be expected to land with the money side up. The "finder" would think he had one won, only to be disappointed when he discovered the ROK flag on the other side. The entire quantity of leaflets was dropped on a single mission. It was not used by a single defector. However, it may well have been carried by a number of people with the intention of using it if the opportunity presented itself.

There were reports that copies of the safe conduct pass ended up in the cash registers of some North Korean stores at the end of the day.  A Security Officer attempted to pass one to see if what was happening was in error or intentional.  The sales clerk accepted the bogus one won note without looking at the reverse side.  He chastised her severely.

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The Flying Horse Leaflet

One of the most popular leaflet themes of the Jilli series was the North Korean flying horse. Several examples are shown in the Jilli booklet, for instance leaflets 162 and 218 of 1964. I have seen about a dozen different leaflets featuring the horse. LTC Dave Underhill told me about when the United States first decided to get involved with leafleting North Korea as part of a Korean balloon program called “Operation Mole” he was invited to take part. Later, the United States had its own program which we know as “Jilli.”

As Chief of the Korean Psychological Operations Intelligence Research Desk, I was asked to submit ideas. One or the most difficult aspects of life in North Korea was the labor intensification movement called  “Chollima.” We normally translated it as a horse that travels a thousand miles before the day is done.  North Korea depicted the horse with wings.

One North Korean newspaper positively sang the praises of the program thusly: “Chollima is described as a manifestation of the creativity of the people rallied around the Party, an exemplification of revolutionary self-reliance. Chollima is based upon Kim Il-song's work with the Korean people, and has produced magnificent results because he went directly to the masses, learning from them, and mobilizing their inexhaustible creativity. Chollima fights passivism and conservatism and raises mass revolutionary zeal. The Chollima Work Team Movement further expanded the Chollima concept and has now extended the work team aspect to virtually all aspects of North Korean society. Chollima has succeeded in drawing from the masses constant innovations that accelerate socialist construction. Kim Il-sung has said that the main purpose of Chollima is to make active elements out of passive elements in North Korean society and leave no North Korean in a backward situation in regard to building socialism and Communism…

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A Monument to the National Animal of North Korea
A winged horse that does not exist

Underhill continues:

We poked fun at it with cartoon leaflets. One had a couple in the bedroom, with the winged horse looking on, with the wife asking “Does he have to be everywhere?”

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Leaflet 108

North Korea erected a statue honoring Chollima.  It stands on a pedestal higher than that on which the Statute of Liberty stands. The leaflet depicted was the final result of my recommendations.  It had a cartoon on the reverse side dealing with contrasts of use of spare time. The first leaflet had a drawing of a horse pulling a wagon being driven by a farmer walking along side. The reverse had a man walking with the winged horse being carried piggy-back style. It had the word Chollima on the horse. By the way, the first word on the first leaflet had Chollima misspelled. B.J. Kim did the art work. It should be written as chon (one thousand) ri (Korean unit of distance) ma (horse) When an "n" sound appears before an "r" sound it changes both to "LL" sound. Sounds bad, but not so serious, inasmuch as post testing revealed the information that South Korea adopted that for the spelling of the movement.

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A group of Mixed Chollima leaflets

A large number of leaflet titles poking fun at the Chollima movement were prepared during the course of the program.  While the number of titles was large, the total quantity was that for a single theme. A number of them were prepared on the odd size unused (scrap) space on the press sheet and disseminated on every mission flown. The size of the scrap sheet had unfavorable dispersion characteristics but this was partially overcome by using it on every mission. I remember we had one leaflet showing a man carrying the winged horse on his back. Later, I prepared a similar leaflet with a young boy walking beside the man and asking “Will I have to carry that load when I grow up?”

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Leaflet 31-65

Since this leaflet is a cartoon like the horse leaflet above this seemed a good place to put it. The leaflet depicts a typical meeting where the Communist bosses talk on and on and the workers can barely stay awake. The text is:

Agenda: About how to make the meeting short.

Executive: “Comrade Chairman, All are dozing.”

Chairman: “At tomorrow's meeting, let's discuss how not to doze.”

At the far right sits “Grandfather of truth.” He says:

Even I am bored.

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President Pak Chung-hui

The President Pak Chung-hui leaflet was developed in Korea with the assistance of the Republic of Korea Army PSYOP staff. It was a New Year's greeting to the North printed under contract by Korean printers. In what might have been a case of sabotage (or just an error) Pak’s signature line looked like the Korean word for “Rat.” The printer, as might be expected, was immediately arrested. The North Koreans had never seen a picture of Pak. When their leaders depicted the president they used a caricature which was always highly uncomplimentary and associated him with all things evil. Project Jilli decided that the North Korean people should see an unbiased photograph of the southern leader and make their own decision about his honesty and integrity.

Dave Underhill mentions a comment by a North Korean defector:

I had never seen a picture of President Pak.  I was anxious to see how the President looked. I learned from this leaflet that President Pak was an intelligent and educated-looking person. I was impressed with the quality of paper used for the leaflet, and the clarity of the picture and printing.

Dave told me that the response to the Pak leaflet was so favorable that he decided to exploit the President and his wife, a former beauty queen. Later Jilli leaflets showed the President and his wife traveling abroad and being welcomed by various countries. 

The Communists were less impressed. In mid-January 1968, thirty-one members of the elite 124th Unit of the North Korean People's Army were dispatched to South Korea in an unsuccessful attempt to kill the President. Another attempt was made on the life of President Pak while he was delivering a National Day address on August 15, 1974 by Mun Se-kwang, a Korean living in Japan. The chief investigator in the Mun assassination attempt claimed that Kim Il-sung ordered the assassination.  He said the plot dated to September 1972, when Mr. Mun was recruited by North Korean agents.  He was assigned the mission in November 1973.

Curiously, although the North Koreans could not kill Pak, his own people could. He was eventually killed by the head of his own Intelligence service.

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Leaflet 146

Jilli Leaflet 146 (probably prepared in 1967) depicts apartment buildings in South Korea and compares them with living conditions in North Korea. Some of the Propaganda text is:

The interior of the apartments are designed for personal comfort. There are separate rooms for Bath tubs and toilets. Each apartment has 3 bedrooms and a separate kitchen. The complex has 642 units and currently 1062 occupants live in the complex. It has 6 floors with 10 sections.

South Korea 's modern apartment complex is a great place to live. It is a treasured living place. The apartment complex has modern plumbing, heating, and everything is designed for your comfort. 

Brother and sisters in North Korea, doesn't the apartment you are currently living in have leaks, plumbing problems, no private bathroom, and no modern heating system?

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Jilli Railroad Leaflet

We mentioned leaflets showing railroads above. Page 25 of the Jilli book depicts the above leaflet and says:

The leaflet is a Jilli leaflet concerning the rapid progress of the railroad industry (driven by diesel engines) and attributing it to the fact that the South Korean brethren have freedom of travel.

The Jilli leaflet depicts a train and a train repair facility and some of the following text:

A passenger train for the working class is running through the beautiful Yi Mountain. Repair of the trains are done at one of the Pusan facilities. South Korean industrial modernization can also be seen through railroad development.

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North Korean Reply

The North Koreans often replied to the Jilli leaflet. In this case they produced a leaflet bragging about the electrification of their railway system and depicting a modern electric train with the text:

The train is going full speed ahead.

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Leaflet 134-64

Leaflet 134-64 pictures Lieutenant YI P’il-eun, a North Korean naval defector. The North Korean government regularly told the people that defectors to the South were immediately shot.This leaflet showed Lt. YI at a press conference as proof that he was well treated. North Korean defectors who evaluated the leaflet said that they felt assured that they would be safe should they go over to the Republic of Korea. Another evaluator stated that after seeing this leaflet he came to realize that if he defected to South Korea he would receive a warm welcome.

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Leaflet 5-65

Leaflet 5-65 depicts long lines of spools of threads at the left and a Korean factory making cloth at the right. The theme of the leaflet is economic progress in the Republic of Korea. Some North Korean defectors who evaluated this leaflet did not believe that the scene was a textile plant in Korea. They thought that it was a factory in some foreign country.

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Leaflet 187

The Jilli propagandists produced a number of leaflets that featured the Ulsan oil refinery. We show three of them here. The reason we show them was that there were apparently many North Korean defectors that decided to go south after seeing these leaflets. Leaflet 187 depicts the refinery in four photographs on the front and back. The text on the front is:

Processing the crude oil and even exporting to overseas for the use of industry, transportation and domestic use. Fully self-sufficient.

The oil refined from Ulsan, Kyungsangnam-do are being sold not only all over Korea but also overseas.

The text on the back is:

Ulsan refinery

Importing crude oil and processing it to make many oil products.

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Ulsan Refinery

I cannot make out the code number of this leaflet but the Jilli book says about it:

This leaflet on the Ulsan Industrial Complex is cited as an example of the high degree of industrial development in the Republic of Korea.

The leaflet text is:

The Korean manufacturing industry is growing day by day.

The splendor of the refinery facilities at the Ulsan manufacturing belt which produces 5,600 kiloliters daily.

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Leaflet 6-65

This leaflet depicts the refinery and a woman using a gas stove with product produced in the refinery. Many North Koreans found it hard to understand why a refinery would be built in Republic of Korea when there were no oil fields beneath the peninsula. They were shocked to find out that the refinery received raw products from abroad. In addition, they were told that the refinery represented an investment in the nation’s future and a way to advance technology and provide fuel to the people conveniently and economically.

I added these leaflets because it became apparent from reading hundreds of North Korean classified defector interviews that the idea that South Korea had an oil refinery changed their minds about the conditions there and pointed out clearly that the North had lied about the economic condition of the South. I have seen about a dozen defector comments and quote three here to show how the truth can change a person’s attitude.

I read the text repeatedly and became convinced that the claims about the Ulsan Refinery made in the leaflet were true and I further reasoned that if this was an indication of South Korea's industrial potential, then South Korea must certainly possess a firm foundation for a self-supporting economy.

I accepted the leaflet on the Ulsan Oil Refinery as being true because I had some knowledge of the existence of an industrial complex at Ulsan City of South Korea. I obtained this knowledge from a North Korean cartoon attacking the construction of an industrial center in the city.

I accepted the truth of the leaflet about the Ulsan Oil Refinery. I knew about the existence of the refinery from North Korean radio broadcasts which asserted that it was being operated with foreign capital.

The leaflets on the Ulsan Oil Refinery were attacked by North Korean counter-propaganda. Typical of their claims were:

This was a fledgling attempt at industrialization.

Though masses of unemployed South Korean workers were flocking to Ulsan in search of jobs there were none and as a result the wives were turning to prostitution and the children were reduced to begging in the streets.

The oil being produced at Ulsan was being consumed by the rich at the expense of the poor.

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Leaflet 8-65

Leaflet 8-65 depicts a modern playground in Republic of Korea. Not only is the playground clean and safe, but the children at play are all well dressed and healthy. Both the playground and the dress of the children greatly impressed North Koreans who saw the leaflets.

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Leaflet 13-65

Leaflet 13-65 depicts modern colleges and universities in the Republic of Korea. North Korea had stated that education was limited in the south and only two or three poorly equipped and supported schools existed. This leaflet points out that there are many learning centers in the South and they are well supported and highly accredited.

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Leaflet 17-65

Radio leaflets were dropped as part of Operation Jilli against the communist regime of North Korea. The leaflets were first passed out as handbills along the DMZ, and were later adapted to be dropped by air.

At least two Cold War radio leaflets were dropped on North Korea during the Jilli program. The first is coded 17-65 and the second is coded 23-65.

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Leaflet 18-65

This leaflet depicts South Korean men and women. The text is:

Under the freedom of speech…
When do you expect to enjoy the delectable meal like this?
Halfway up the Mt. Namsan of Seoul.
The nation prospers and the love matures.

One of the men that dropped it told me that he had heard:

This is one of the leaflets the north turned against the south. It shows a woman with her slip showing, she’s wearing a watch as well as the soldier, sitting in front of a TV. Another frame shows her in a nightgown in front of a stereo. A couple more frames showing her in western clothes. The north countered with statements like “see, they turn all women into prostitutes”, or “see, they are denied their culture”. The same leaflet was also printed in legal size or larger and was handed out along the DMZ to soldiers.

One of the men that printed the leaflet told me:

We were well aware of the modesty of Korean women. During the war when Chinese and Korean females were used to carry supplies to the front there were cases when they came upon deep rapidly moving streams The Chinese women would strip and carry the supplies across with no clothes on. The more modest Korean women would try to cross fully clothed and in some cases drown. We were careful not to print any salacious photographs of Korean women.

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Leaflet 207

This leaflet also depicts some soldiers with civilians. However, they are Vietnamese civilians. The Jilli leaflet explains that the South Koreans are helping the Vietnamese in their fight for freedom. The text is:

The Korean Army puts the most effort for the protection and support of the Vietnamese.

Countries of the free world including South Korea are engaged in the Vietnam War for the freedom of Vietnamese and the collective protection of Asia. The Korean Army looks after the Vietnamese children as they safely study. Sometimes school supplies are provided to them.

South Vietnamese women who are fighting against the communist aggression exchange a friendly “Hello” with a Korean soldier.

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Leaflet 23-65

Both leaflets show a Communist radio on one side showing an on/off switch but no dial, and the second shows a western-style radio with both an on/off switch and a dial to change stations. The leaflets were originally produced in color, but we show them from an old military file in black and white. The text is the same on both leaflets.

The text above and below the Communist radio without a tuning dial is:

Does everyone get to hear the station they want to hear? Do you want to listen to South Korea? What if everyone who wanted to listen to the radio station were not able to . . .

What is the dial on the radio for?

The text on the side showing the western-style radio with a tuning dial gives the various frequencies of South Korean radio stations:

These are the stations available in South Korea.

(A list of 10 AM, FM and shortwave stations follow in either two or three vertical columns)

Is everyone able to listen to any of the stations?

The comments about the use of the tuning dial and the ability to listen to different radio stations is probably in regard to the North Korean system of having the owner take the radio to the local post office where it is tuned to a North Korean station, and then "fixed" so that the station cannot be changed. It is rumored that some handy radio owners have found ways of tampering with the "fix," so that they could tune to radio stations in the south.

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77-65

Leaflet 77-65 depicts a modern butcher shop. Earlier leaflets had depicted fruits and vegetables but defectors had stated that they were available in North Korea and thus not influential propaganda. However, meat was scarce, and the concept that an average South Korean could walk into a store and purchase meat was very impressive. North Koreans were also impressed by the refrigerated display case and the modern meat cutting machines. One complaint by North Korean defectors who evaluated the leaflet was that the cost of the meat should have been displayed on the leaflet. Meat was so expensive in the North that the average person could not afford the price. By constant evaluation, the Jilli leaflets were regularly improved. Some of the leaflet text is:

In South Korea, anyone can buy meat any time he desires.

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81-65

Leaflet 81-65 depicts scenes of a destroyed Seoul at the left and the same area rebuilt at the right. The theme is rehabilitation and progress in South Korea. North Koreas were told that the people of the South were living in poverty among the ruins and devastation of the war. They were shocked to see that the cities had been rebuilt and the people had a high standard of living.

Two North Korean defectors stated:

While in the vicinity of my aunt's home, I saw South Korean leaflets for the first time. I was very favorably impressed by the leaflets, particularly those with scenes of streets in Seoul. The leaflets convinced me that I, too, could lead a happy life in such an environment and that I, therefore, should defect

I saw a leaflet on rehabilitation of Seoul and I never imagined Seoul had recovered from its war destruction. From this leaflet, I was convinced that South Korea was a wealthy and powerful nation and that the people undoubtedly could live better than North Korean people.

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84-65

Leaflet 84-65 depicts a group of cars in traffic at the left, and cars on a production line in a South Korean factory at the right. The theme of the leaflet is modern industry and automotive production. North Koreans found it hard to believe that South Koreans actually possessed such cars. The streets of North Korea were empty. Some of the text is:

Automobiles will soon become a daily necessity in South Korea.

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111-66

Leaflet 111-66 depicts the streets of South Korea crowded with both commercial and private traffic. The text is:

The Southern half of Korea has been progressing under the National Flag of Korea.

Dear northern brothers and sisters!

When are you going to live in a free and developed city like this?

Taepyong-Ro Street , Seoul

The back depicts another street with traffic and a message next to a symbol of a burning candle. In Western culture the candle would indicate the bringing of light and knowledge in the dark. The text is:

There will be endless enlightenment and good fortune in our Korean people's future.

South Korea's picture of development and a busy modern city can be seen in front of the Seoul CentralGovernment Building at Guanghwa-Moon Street.

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Marriage Ceremony

This uncoded leaflet depicts an old fashioned traditional Korean wedding ceremony at the left and the cold official Communist signing of the marriage document at the right.

Once again the back depicts the symbol of a burning candle and the text:

The traditional marriage ceremonies are performed earnestly in front of parents as in the past, but the North Korean Communist Government is interfering with the marriages now.

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Leaflet 190

This leaflet also discusses marriage but shows that even Communist spies who come South and are caught can lead respectable lives and find love. The text is:

Wedding day of Mr. Ogiwan who is a former spy from the North

Tying the knot at the wedding ceremony in front of the wedding officer where friends and relatives from Gangsu-goon gathered.

With the wedding officer after the ceremony.

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132-66

Leaflet 132-66 depicts various forms of public transportation and civilian aircraft. It tells the people of the North that the Southerners can move about freely without restriction. The text on the front is:

SOUTH KOREA ’S MASS TRANSPORTATION

Buses are also for farmers.

The text on the back us:

Republic of Korea 's Civil Aviation

South Korean Airlines not only offers daily domestic flights connecting the cities like Seoul, Busan, Guangju, etc. but also flies internationally in competition with foreign airliners.   Providing unrestricted air travel to South Koreans is the proof that South Korean civil air transportation industry has been well established.  

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156-66

Leaflet 156-66 depicts South Korean students reading magazines, brochures and newspapers. It tells the North of the great number of reading material freely available to people in the South. On the front, South Korean students publish their papers.

Freedom of Expression and Publication of Newspapers.

South Korean high school and college students publish their school papers.
This demonstrates their creativity and their schools' uniqueness.

The back depicts students reading various publications including one written by a Russian.

South Korean school papers not only publish research articles but also student
affairs as well as a variety of intellectual and educational write ups.

This high school student is reading Soviet writer Solokhof's article.

Dongkuk college students reading newspapers at the school campus.

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167-66

Leaflet 167-66 depicts colleges in South Korea and implies to the people of the North that every Korean can attend school and be educated. This leaflet is in full color and was prepared at the USIS printing plant in the Philippines. In general, the Okinawa presses never produced full-color leaflets. Text on the front is:

Male and Female Students.

Text on the back is:

Lee Whua Women's College is the No. 1 women's college in the world.
Democratic education in progress.
College Education.
The Main Building of Pusan University.

When questioned, two North Korean defectors said about the education leaflets:

I was impressed by the leaflet on technical educational opportunities in South Korea and realized that my preconception of the South Korean educational situation was completely wrong and prejudiced. I also believe that this type of leaflet would strongly impress the educational counterparts in North Korea and lead them to re-evaluate North Korean propaganda regarding South Korea's educational situation.

I was very impressed by the leaflet and read it repeatedly. After reading the text, I realized that even in their school life, the students in South Korea were being encouraged to participate in various fields of arts according to their tastes.

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182-66

Leaflet 182-66 depicts happy South Korean students at the beach on the front. The back of the leaflet has three photographs of South Koreans having fun on water slides and rubber rafts. Some of the text is:

The whole family is enjoying a summer vacation in South Korea.

Every summer in the economically developed country of the Republic of Korea, millions of people seeking cooler places vacation in Inchon Song-Do, Busan Son-Do, Haeundai, Kanwon-Do Gyonpo-Dai, Chunnam Manri-Pyo, Daechun, etc.

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Leaflet 154

I added this leaflet because it uses sports as a theme. The images depict a basketball game and a stadium. Sports have been a good way to get people to look at leaflets all the way back to WWII. The text is:

THE GROWTH OF ATHLETICS ACHIEVED BY YOUR BROTHERS IN THE SOUTH

Basketball competition between Korea University and Yunsei University which is deeply rooted historically and traditionally.

In the South the Nationwide athletic competition is held at the public stadiums built at many cities. The events are held by turn. The stadiums are all over the country and hold the athletic competition throughout the year.

The Jangchoong Stadium which is of international scale.

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Leaflet 164

Many of the Jilli leaflets show Korean women in various artistic or intellectual endeavors. This leaflet shows a young lady reading. The text is:

To be a Good Wife and Wise Mother.

Women in the South try to enlighten themselves and pursue their personal happiness.

This is different from the women in the North who spend all their time for the purpose of arming themselves with Marxism–Leninism.

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Leaflet 197

I chose to add this leaflet because of the image of the lovely Korean women playing the zither at the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts. They wear traditional dress so I suspected that this leaflet would be very effective. The text is:

KOREAN WOMEN PRESERVING THEIR ANCIENT GLITTERING CULTURE

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236

The printing plant’s job order of Jilli leaflet 286-68 indicates that it was the 286th item printed in 1968 near at the end of the campaign. The actual leaflet is coded “236-front” and “236-back.” The leaflet was printed nine to a sheet with two horizontal groups of four and one vertical. The leaflet is 6 x 2.4 inches that allows for deep penetration into the target area before it starts hitting the ground. Small leaflets, more to a pound allows for a greater concentrtion deeper into the target area.  The front depicts a map of South Korea with the locations of the various government, military, commercial and private radio stations. The text of the leaflet uses the terminology and style of North Korea and includes some words that would not be used by a South Korean. The text says in part:

At present there are more than 36 private and government owned radio broadcasting stations in the Republic of Korea.

We have about 38 independent broadcasting companies; both domestic and international. Fourteen of these stations are privately owned. Because of the geographical layout of Korea, radio stations have no problem broadcasting to anywhere in the country, and so the people have a wide selection of stations from which to choose from. The Korean people's lives have been enriched because of this variety, being able to choose from arts programs, political programs, etc.

The stations all broadcast accurately and quickly, bringing in political stories from both the domestic and international stage. Because the Radio stations are for the Korean people, they are also able to criticize the Government and the politicians in power.

The back depicts a radio and the time and frequencies of South Korean broadcasts. The text is in part:

The people of the Republic of Korea are even free to listen to an unlimited number of foreign radio broadcasts.

The central Korean government has installed radio transmitters all over the country. The Korean people's radios are not limited to only Korean broadcasts, but are very capable of receiving foreign radio broadcasts as well. All you have to do is turn the dial to your required radio station. Companies such as Kum Song (Goldstar) manufacture and produce various styles of Radio sets, at various prices in order to please as many customers as possible. As of October 1966, 1,107,526 radio sets have been sold to the public.

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Press Sheet of Jilli Leaflets

The sheet depicted above shows that a great number of Jilli leaflets were printed on one sheet before being cut into individual pieces. 22 different leaflets are shown on this one sheet. This sheet was printed by the large but slow Harris 17-inch by 22-inch sheet fed press. Two such presses were in use during the 1966-1967 time periods.

When I discussed this strange use of multiple leaflets on a single sheet with one of the officers responsible for designing and printing the leaflets he explained:

The printed leaflet mix was my contribution to PSYOP.  During WWII and Korea, they were using 4 to 16 times as many leaflets as required to do the job. By sending my titles, it reduced the concentration of any given leaflet. Some mixes actually contained more than one copy within the mix. This permitted putting extra emphasis on a given leaflet (theme). We actually took the mixes and further mixed them in the box loading process. The most titles dropped on a single mission were fifty-one.

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Jilli Leaflet Mix 18

I met a lot of resistance from the printing plant (initially). They wanted it nice and clean - One leaflet - one job order. However, after a little bit of mixing on the job order, they loved the idea of a run of ten million. They used copper plates that could handle the total run without any further action. Actually, once in a while when we had some special job or leaflet, they wanted others to print with the mix.

After North Korea captured and boarded the USS Pueblo on 23 January 1968 the Jilli project was shut down for over a year. The following year the USAF attempted a leaflet launch on 14 April. The winds were unstable in the early spring and the leaflet drop was aborted. The North Koreans, remembering that the U.S. had ceased propaganda flights after the taking of the Pueblo may have decided that the Americans could be bullied. As a result, the next day on 15 April 1969, an American EC-121M was attacked and shot down by two North Korean MiG-17 Fresco fighters 90 miles off the coast of Korea over the Sea of Japan. Thirty-one crewmembers were killed. By coincidence, this was Kim Il-song’s birthday. There is reason to believe that this attack might have led directly to the Jilli program termination.

It is possible that there was at least one other Jilli plane lost. There is no evidence of this action and many interested parties have attempted to prove whether or not it ever occurred. Notice that Sam McGowan mentions above that during his briefing he was told that an aircraft was lost. When I asked “intelligence types” about this alleged loss of a Jilli aircraft I was told that no American aircraft had been lost but one plane with an all-Korean crew was lost. So, we report this action strictly as rumor.

According to the unproven story, the first Jilli aircraft had a system with a wooden dispenser mounted in a troop door. The loadmasters would drop the leaflets through the dispenser. After a few aggressive test missions North Korea retaliated by shooting the aircraft down. A “cover story” was spread among the airmen in Okinawa that one of the electronic signals intelligence C-130 ELINT aircraft flying from Yokota Air Base in Japan had flown close to contested air space and was shot down. Allegedly, the whole operation was classified and while every other airplane shot down by Russians, Chinese or North Korea has been declassified, this one was not. All that has ever been released is the August 1963 date, with the loss of six lives and that the airplane call-sign “LT,” which might mean “leaflet transport.” After the airplane was shot down, missions were flown using C-47s, then in 1965 the mission resumed with C-130s.

Do I believe the story? I tend to doubt it, only because I suspect it would be hard to keep such a loss classified after all this time. I know that many former pilots and crew have tried to find out more about this alleged North Korean attack with little or no luck. It is an interesting project for a researcher that wants to take it on.

North Korean Reaction

There is no way to tell if the North Korean violations and incidents were a direct result of the leafleting campaign, but we can make s fair case that it could be. Lieutenant Colonel Dave Underhill wondered about the reaction of the North Koreans to his leaflets. He wrote to the United Nations Military Command and said:

I directed the high altitude leaflet program against North Korea in the mid to late 1960s. I noticed at the time that certain North Korean hostile actions appeared in direct response to various phases of the program. The leaflet program began in 1964 with the use of a C-47. In 1965, a C-130 aircraft was used which dropped ten tons per mission. Later, two C-130s were used until the final drop in late 1968.

The U.N. Command answered with a list of significant violations and incidents. The list listed air violations, naval violations, armed attacks, intrusions, and firings in the demilitarized zone. We find that in the years 1964 to 1966, the average number of violations was 21. In 1967, the violations rose to 200. In 1968, they reached 575. Shooting in the DMZ rose from the previous year’s 12 to 165. The program was ended by 1969 but there were still 157 violations. The following year they dropped to 79.

It is hard to draw any conclusions from these numbers. Remember, the Vietnam War was being fought at the same time so the North Koreans might have felt they were less likely to be called to task for these violations. Whatever the reason, it is interesting to see how the numbers peaked at the height of Operation Jilli.

I have a copy of the 21 November 1968 Department of the Army 7th Psychological Operations group booklet, Operating Instruction: PSYOP for North Vietnam. The document provides guidance for the conduct of PSYOP directed at North Korea. The Group mission is:

The Group, on a continuous basis, will conduct PSYOP which is directed to the North Korean military forces and civilian population and which is designed to fulfill psychological objectives delineated by United Nations Command and United States Forces – Korea.

The booklet goes on to give no less than twelve pages of leaflet themes to be used against the Communist North. There is no way to list all of the 100+ themes, so I have chosen six to give the reader an idea of the propaganda being prepared by the U.S. forces:

1. You are welcome in the South and will be treated with respect.

2. Defect immediately to the South when you reach the demilitarized zone.

3. The United States does not resort to the use of force unless they are attacked.

4. Purges are a constant threat to security and well-being of all Party members.

5. The United Nations and South Korean forces are strictly defensive.

6. North Korean leaders never accept blame for their failures.

The United States also introduced radios into North Korea. They were floated onto the shores in a float bag on the water.

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Preparation of floats

Republic of Korea Navy technicians with U. S. PSYOP specialist prepares float bags to be drifted into North Korean waters and along the shoreline as part of Operation Jilli (Truth).

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A Float Containing a PSYOP Radio

A U. S.  Republic of Korea Cold War float containing a radio in its protective package. The sea currents flow from North to South. The radio has been placed in a pillow-size inflated plastic bag that acts as a sail. The package is moved against the current using south-southwesterly winds where it is picked up by fishermen at sea, or people along the shoreline. Besides radio, magazines, leaflets, book marks, chopsticks, fishing line and other gift items were sent to North Korea through this method of dissemination.

The Propaganda Float in Psychological Operations mentions a North Korean military defector's comments on the program:

According to my company leader and the assistant company leader for political affairs, wristwatches, fountain pens, and radio sets sent from South Korea were found in the area north of the Imjin River. They said that these things were fixed with explosives. Dials of the radios are fixed to Republic of Korea broadcasts, and if turned to other stations they explode. Members of my company were told not to pick up such things when found in the company area.

A fisherman who defected to the south said: 

The leaflet listing the South Korean radio frequencies was a great help to me in listening to the South Korean radio stations. However, South Korean news program schedules should also have been supplied in the leaflet.

The South Korean/American propaganda broadcasts to the north were on the air 17 1/2 hours a day, seven days a week. The program content was aimed at the masses. Soap-opera villains were always Communist Party leaders. The heroes were always peasants or workers who fought the system.

A former PSYOP officer stated that this was terrible PSYOP since the only people in North Korea who had radios were the Party elite, and we were attacking them day after day.

LTC Underhill said in regard to the radio campaign:

An Army Reserve officer was assigned two weeks summer active duty to the 7th PSYOP Group.  The group commander assigned him the task of reviewing radio operations. 

At a conference room briefing, he found it so bad that he said his first impression was that we had been infiltrated by North Korean agents.   He went on by saying that he had changed his mind about that.  He said agents would have been more subtle in their sabotage.  It was too bad to have been deliberate.  I had reached the exact same opinion after thirty days with the unit. I was sent to the Korea Detachment for orientation.  The Detachment Commander gave me a file drawer of agent debriefings and other intelligent reports to read.  This was followed by a week's worth of each radio broadcast program.

There was no relationship between the intelligence data and the resulting radio product.  Upon my return to Okinawa, I arranged periodic briefings to the appropriate radio people. They were unhappy with my comments and recommendations.  Eventually, they eliminated the Drama programs.  I felt that was wrong.  They should have adjusted the drama to meet the realities of the North Korean situation.

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Staff Sergeant Tony Newcomb of the U.S. Joint Special Warfare
Task Group with helicopter loudspeakers that were damaged
by North Korean weapons fire in 1968

In the almost four decades since the end of Operation Jilli the North and South Koreans have continued to send propaganda against each other. Leaflets are traded on a regular basis, sent by agent, balloon and sometimes even small rockets. In the 1960s, North Korea embarked on a program of counterfeiting United States and French stamps to mail propaganda to the west. At the same time, loudspeakers, billboards and even enormous electrified signs sent messages across the DMZ. On more than one occasion violence erupted and there were a number of deaths along the demilitarized zone as one side or the other tried to demonstrate their power or make a political statement.

In June 2004 this propaganda war allegedly ended. Both North and South Korea dismantled their signs and their loudspeakers and pledged to no longer broadcast to each other. The peace seems to be holding. It will be interesting to see how long both sides can keep from falling back into the old ways and sending massive amounts of propaganda to each other.

This report is just a very brief look at the Jilli program. It was highly classified and even today there has been almost nothing reported on this complex psychological operation. Should any readers who took part in the program care to contact the author with additional comments or corrections, you are encouraged to write to him at sgmbert@hotmail.com.

Readers with questions or comments on the above article are encouraged to contact the author at sgmbert@hotmail.com.