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Leaflet 7041

A good example of the combination of Allied air power and the overwhelming might of the UN forces is found on leaflet 7041. The front of the leaflet depicts United States Navy Grumman F9F Panther fighter-bombers attacking Chinese supply trains and convoys. The text is:


The back of the leaflet depicts bombs falling, each with the flag of a different member of the United Nations coalition that is fighting for the freedom of the Republic of Korea. The text is: 


Day By Day - the armed might of the United Nations in Korea grows stronger and stronger.

Day By Day – more and more UN planes are bombing your supply lines.

Day By Day – more and more of your food supply trucks lie in burning ruins. Trains carrying the vital war material you need so badly are being blasted from the face of the earth.

Day By Day – more and more Chinese officers and men are coming over to join their friends with the United Nations.

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Leaflet 8672

A similar leaflet that depicts the overwhelming power of the United Nations forces was produced by the G-3 Division of the Eight U.S. Army on 12 August 1953. It depicts massed aircraft, artillery and troops arrayed against the Communist forces. Text on the front of the leaflet is:



The back shows a ground covered with skulls and the text in part:


Since 5 August you have made repeated attacks on the United Nations positions to your front. These positions are still firmly in United Nations hands.

Think! Up to 10 August, over 700 of your comrades have been killed and wounded. What a useless death! What a pity!

Brave Chinese soldiers! Look at the facts! Think! Thus do your evil Communist leaders drive you to die in vain…

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Leaflet 7202

This leaflet always fascinated me. In a way, it is rather ugly with no balance of images or color, just a dull blue sheet covered with Americans weapons. Still, if they wanted to try and scare the Chinese with American strength, this might do it. The leaflet was printed by the First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group on 26 September 1952 targeting Chinese troops in Korea. Both sides of the leaflet are covered with weapons systems. On the front I see an F-80 Shooting Star at the top, then an aircraft carrier, an artillery piece and a tank. The text is:


The back depicts a flight of F-86 Sabre jets, a battleship, an artillery piece and a B-29 Super Fortress bomber. The text is:


The United Nations strength grows stronger: On land; in the air; on the sea.

Don’t sacrifice your blood for Communist greed and aggression. Escape from the strength of the United Nations.

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Leaflet 8301

This leaflet really exploits the Communist vulnerabilities by pointing out that damage caused by UN air attacks after two years of Warfare. The leaflet was printed on 10 June 1952 upon the request of the United States Ninth Air Force. It depicts UN aircraft attacking various targets on the front. Once again the aircraft chosen is the F-80 Shooting Star. The text to the right of the images is:


The back is all text and a long list of targets attacked and destroyed. There are eleven categories of destruction listed. Some of the text is:


Two years ago your Communist leaders launched an attack on you brothers and sisters in the Republic of Korea. The attack was cowardly and unprovoked.

What are the results after two years of war? What has happened to your beloved country? Read these figures and you shall know what UN aircraft alone have done in answer to Communist aggression:
                                                            Destroyed                                 Damaged

Buildings                               127,769                                    109,186
Vehicles                                   56,230                                         4,409 
Supply Dumps                          1,346                                            593
Bridges                                     2,100                                         5,233…

This is the UN answer to Communist aggression. UN aircraft fly in your skies unchallenged. Have you not seen this with your own eyes?
Your Communist leaders have caused your country to be destroyed and have placed the chains of slavery on your people. 

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Leaflet 8359

Perhaps the strangest bombing leaflet of the war was 8359, an explanation of why a school was bombed by the United Nations. I usually try not to depict all-text leaflets because I believe the article should be filled with interesting images. However, this is such a strange piece that it probably deserves mention. The leaflet was dated 26 October 1952 and requested by the United States Fifth Air Force from the Political Warfare Division of EUSAK. The front depicts Roses of Sharon and symbols of the Republic of Korea. It was directed to the students of the Kumgang Political Academy. The message claims that their instructors were controlled by the USSR and taught the students lies which would ultimately lead them to attack the South. It lists the names of 24 instructors and their jobs, and even mentions those instructors who were teaching under false identities. The text ends with the comment:

Although they are your and our enemies, they also are offered safe conduct if they will free their minds from the false teachings of their Soviet masters.

Interrogation of prisoners-of-war showed clearly that they feared air attack more than any other kind. In one survey, 82% stated that they most feared air attack, while 7% mentioned artillery, 2.6% tanks, and 1.6% infantry. It seems clear that the theme of air superiority should have been one of the major U.N. themes of the war.

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Leaflet # 7203 - They did not even give you a helmet – Come to our side now

Leaflet coded 7203 was produced in 1952 and targeted Chinese communist forces in Korea. One side shows a skull wearing a Communist soft cap with shrapnel passing through it. The other side shows a UN soldier with shrapnel bouncing off his helmet. The text argues that the Communist leadership doesn't care about the lives of its soldiers, while "the UN protects its men". The leaflet was produced by the Psychological Warfare Section of the US Far East Command. The importance of wearing a helmet becomes painfully obvious on this two-sided leaflet.

The blue side with the UN soldier reads:

The UN helmets save their soldiers. The UN always takes care of their soldiers. The UN has the most sophisticated weapons for their soldiers. There is no UN soldier without a helmet.. The UN general is not like the Communist boss who has prepared only for his own personal safety. The UN boss doesn't waste his soldiers for his own personal benefit. Why do you waste your life for a horrible boss who won't even give you a helmet? Save your life. It is well known that the Communist troops are on the run.

The red side reads:

Save your life, desert! The Communists don't even give you a helmet. They only give you a "bunk hat". It cannot protect you from a bullet. Your boss doesn't care if you die. He doesn't have to worry; he isn't fighting in the field. Your bosses just reap the benefits of your sacrifice. Don't waste your life for the son of a bitch. Why do you waste your life for your boss? Save your skin.

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Leaflet 7228*

It was not only helmets that the United Nations talked about. In this leaflet they mention the terrible footwear issued to the Communist forces. The front of the leaflet depicts the boots worn by a Chinese soldier with ripped seams and torn padding. The leaflet was printed by the 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group dated 23 January 1953. The asterisk at the end of the code number shows that the leaflet was requested by 8th Army PSYOP. The text is:

Can you keep your feet warm and dry?

The back is all text:

Save your own life now!
Escape to the U.N. side or escape to the rear!
Tomorrow may be too late!

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Leaflet 8685

Another leaflet that mentions the lack of helmets for the Chinese soldier is in the form of a streamer. The name of the leaflet is “Chinese Communist Forces lack of steel helmets.” The leaflet was produced by the Psychological Warfare Division of EUSAK in the Chinese language on 17 September 1952. It depicts a UN soldier with a helmet labelled “Safety,” and a Chinese soldier with a cloth cap and a skull representing death above it. The text is:

Steel helmets are lifesavers. Why doesn’t the CCF have them?

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Leaflet 8693

Leaflet 8693 attempts to frighten the Chinese “volunteers” with threat of death due to military action, starvation and the cold. It depicts a long line of dead or wounded Chinese troops. Some of the text is:

Warriors of the Chinese Forces

Hour after hour the number of dead and wounded increase around you. Your unit suffers bitterly from heavy casualties. See, many of your comrades now lie either dead or wounded. Your unit is almost destroyed. Must you, too, join your comrades in useless death?

Your situation is hopeless. You have done all you can. Now you must preserve your life to return to your family.

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Leaflet 8575

Like the leaflet above, this one has a very simple picture that says more than words. We see a Chinese soldier sitting alone in the snow on a barren mountain. He is clearly freezing and seems to be blowing on his hands to warm them. He thinks of the nice trucks that brought him to the front and how the United Nations aircraft strafed and bombed them. He has no transportation and no supplies. The text on the front is:

Supply lines are being cut by bombing

Soldiers suffer from cold and hunger

The back of the leaflet shows a Chinese soldier surrendering and the text says in part:

Officers and men of the Chinese forces:

Soon it will be cold again, and then you will have to suffer from cold and frostbite as well as from hunger, fatigue and UN artillery and aerial bombing.

Comrades, your supply dumps and supply trains are being bombed daily. There will be a shortage of food and warm clothing. How will you survive the coming winter? Friends, do not suffer and die for Russian imperialism. Save your lives by coming to the UN lines as friends. Many of your comrades are already here. The UN promises good treatment regardless of rank or ideological belief.

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Leaflet 8599

I like this leaflet a lot because the picture is so clear that it really needs no words. The leaflet was printed by the Eighth U.S. Army in Korea Operations (G3) Section. It is another in a series of leaflets attempting to destroy the fighting morale of the Chinese armed forces.

The reader must remember that the leaflet is readfrom right to left. At the right the image is of a lonely Chinese soldier in the snow. At his feet is the arm and cap of a dead comrade. The soldier's machine-gun is frozen and ice hangs from the barrel. He has no future.

At the left the Chinese soldier has surrendered to the UN Forces. An American Army Corporal smiles and gives the hungry soldier rice and tea. At the left we see a stove to show that the prisoner is in a warm and comfortable building. This is a wonderful propaganda piece and says it all without saying a word. To bring home the message for those that can read the text is:

You are hungry, cold and in your life is in danger

Come over to the UN lines and safety where food and warm quarters await you

Bitter cold is around the corner and your sufferings increase; exposed to the sub-zero weather and snow storms, you are miserably cold. Eating little rice because of supply shortages, you are hungry. You get frostbite and trench foot and there is little medical care so you are ill…The UN sympathizes with you and warm living quarters and good food and cigarettes are waiting for you. COME OVER AT ONCE!

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Leaflet 8536

Another leaflet that attempts to frighten the Chinese with images of death is 8536. This is a tactical leaflet. I add it because this is one of the very few leaflets that has a small blank area on the all-text back where the name of a specific known Chinese unit can be added. The leaflet is coded “EUSAK 8536 Chinese” and at the lower right on the back there is also a “15” which might be a Korean PSYOP number. The front depicts a number of dead Chinese troops on the field of battle. The text on the front and back is:

Was your advance worth so many lives?
Look around you at the great number of dead and wounded.

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Leaflet 1065

There were many leaflets that mentioned starvation due to the Chinese stealing the foodstuffs of the Korean people. 20 years later in the Vietnam war, the Communists would give receipts for food and the American propagandists would prepare leaflets decrying their worthlessness. This leaflet is an early example of that theme, prepared two decades earlier by the Far East Command. It depicts a sample of the Communist requisition receipt on the front and the back. It depicts a Korean family with nothing to eat except for a bowl of the worthless receipts. Some of the text is:


The Communist Chinese are taking away our vital life necessities! In exchange, they give us these useless scraps of paper! Do not let them fool you as they fooled me! We will never receive the compensation they promise!

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Leaflet 1117

This is another leaflet that uses food as theme. The front depicts a full bowl of steaming rice; the back depicts an empty bowl. I would not have added it except that it shows a direct line from WWII American leaflets used against the Japanese. In those leaflets, the American pictured a large attractive bowl filled with various forms of sushi and sashimi. This Far East Command 12 October 1951 leaflet would seem to indicate that a good idea just lives on and on. The text on the front is:

Why Be Hungry?

Text on the back reminds the North Koreans that winter is coming and they will soon be starving. It says in part:

Food will not be easy to come by this winter. The veterans of last winter know this, but you recruits will have to learn the hard way.

When you find that your daily rations are cut and that you are constantly hungry, remember this leaflet.

Also remember that you do not have to go hungry. Behind the United Nations lines you will get plenty of hot rice and side dishes every day…

Virtually the same leaflet was printed on 25 September 1951 by the First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group. This version was coded 1109, printed in blue with Korean text.Once again the text on the front is:

Why Be Hungry?

The back depicts three empty bowls and the text says in part:

Your Communist bosses are experts on the subjects of starvation and death. They are well versed in these topics because this is all they know.

Why go hungry this fall and winter when the United Nations offers you an abundance of hot rice and side dishes?

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Leaflet # 1223 (front) - Old Russian Weapons Bring Death!

This leaflet points out the unreliability of the soviet rifle used by the Chinese and Korean soldiers.  The front of this 30 September 1952 leaflet depicts a Russian rifle with the text both in Korean and Chinese:

Old Russian Weapons Bring Death!

Escape! Don't Die for Russia!

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Leaflet # 1223 (back)

The back of the leaflet is a cartoon strip illustrating how weapons are obtained and showing their faults. It depicts the Soviets giving arms to Mao Tse-tung who in turn gives it to a young Chinese soldier and forces him to fight in the war. You see the soldier having trouble with the Russian rifle and in the next panel he is getting shot at. Finally in the last panel you see a happier Chinese soldier as he surrenders to UN Forces holding a safe conduct pass.   

1. Stalin: Take these old guns. They are no longer any good.
2. Mao: Take this old gun and invade Korea.
3. Soldier: The gun is heavy!
4. Soldier: It jams! It won't shoot!
5. Soldier: It misfires!
6. Don't die! Throw down your obsolete weapons! Surrender for UN protection!

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Leaflet 7167 - China's Subservience to Foreign Control
(Leaflet courtesy of Lee Richards)

Leaflet 7167 is entitled "China's Subservience to Foreign Control" and is dated 7 May 1952. The target is the Chinese Army in Korea . The leaflet depicts a Russian official who looks like Stalin, pushing a Chinese leader who looks like Mao, who pushes a Chinese soldier toward the front and his death. Each figure is identified in Chinese characters. The text on the front is:

The Chinese Army Soldier is Forced to Fight Soviet Russia's War.

Text on the back is:

Chinese Soldier. Don't be deceived! The Soviet Russians who now control your homeland have forced China into this war. Brave Chinese soldiers are dying needlessly for Soviet Russian imperialism. Oppose Communism! Resist Russia !

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Leaflet 1242

This same message was dropped on the enemy over and over. For instance, leaflet 1242, dated 1 December 1952, depicts Kim Il Sung roped to a hammer and sickle plow, with Mao Tse Tung driving the plow and Stalin standing by as supervisor. The text is:

Korean Ox, Chinese Servant, Russian Master! 

Some of the text on the back is:

The dumb ox Kim Il Sung plows up your land for master Stalin, as good servant Mao Tse Tung applies the whip.

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Leaflet # 7048 - Warning to Troop Replacements - You are being led to your deaths!

The fourth theme is a living North Korean patriot is better than a dead one. Leaflet coded 7048 shown above is a good example. The front of the leaflet shows a new replacement soldier surrounded by death. The text on the front reads:

You are being led to your deaths.

The back is all text and states:

Battlefield Information for the Chinese Replacement Soldier. What will I face? You will face the bloodiest battle in the history of the war. The greatest number of Nations ever allied together to destroy a single aggressor force. Liquid fire bombs, tanks and flame throwers – with only the rifle you hold in your hand to combat them. Why am I here? Because thousands and thousands of Chinese soldiers who preceded you have lost their lives and you are being sent into the human sea to replace them. What then shall I do? Many thousands of wise Chinese officers and men who came before you have found ways of escaping secretly and crossing over as friends to the United Nations lines. They are living happily and receiving the good treatment guaranteed by the United Nations.

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I died Comrades

The leaflet above depicts a dead North Korean soldier warning another North Korean Soldier not to make the same mistake he did and die for a worthless cause. The text on the leaflet reads:

I died Comrades - Comrades! I died needlessly for the Communist boss, Kim Il Sung. Will that be your fate, too? (2 January 1953).

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Leaflet 1127

Leaflet 1127 was prepared by the First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group of General Headquarters, Far East Command, Psychological Warfare Section, on 1 December 1951. It is designed to frighten the enemy soldier and make him consider surrendering to the United Nations forces. The front of the leaflet depicts dead and dying North Korean soldiers in an artillery barrage with bright red flames. Text on the front of the leaflet is:

7500 Infantry Companies Destroyed.

The back of the leaflet has a long propaganda message and depicts a line of North Korean soldiers turning into skeletons as they march forward and piling up on the ground. The text is:

When your political officers give you the latest war news they probably distort what should interest you the most - the number of your comrades killed, wounded, or safe behind the United Nations lines.

Since the Korean Army began the war, 681,421 of your countrymen have been killed or wounded. This is equivalent to more than 3,000 full strength Korean infantry companies. 118,486 Korean soldiers have avoided death and wounds by going over the United Nations lines where they are now safe.

Since the beginning of the war the total number of Korean and Chinese soldiers killed or wounded is 1,5000,000! This is equivalent to 7,500 Korean infantry companies!

These figures should prove to you that your leaders have little regard for human life, and that they are putting your life in constant danger.

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Leaflet 1233

It wasn’t only the soldier who could be killed in battle. Civilians who were forced to work in military areas could also be killed. Leaflet 1233 was prepared by the First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group on 25 October 1952. It uses a theme that was popular during WWII when both sides told enemy workers and soldiers to feign illness to save their lives. This leaflet tells the farmers of the Hwang Hac-Do peninsula to pretend to be sick. The front depicts a wife pointing at her sick husband to a Communist officer drafting a work crew. The text is:

Farmers of Hwang Hac-Do!


The back is made up of two panels. At the top a wife takes her husband by the arm and pushes him into the house as a communist work crew approaches. In the lower panel she fusses over him in bed as the work crew departs. The text is:



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Leaflet # 1207

An example of the theme that the Communist will exploit all of Korea for their own purposes is shown above in the leaflet coded 1207. The leaflet depicts Mao Tse Tung hoarding all of Korea's industry. The text on the front of the leaflet states:

Warriors of the NKPA – Do you know the Puppet Kim Il Sung has sold your beloved country to the CCF?

The text on the back of the leaflet reads:

Do you know that the hated Chinese now control all of North Korea’s government, industry, railroads, economy and people? Nearly 700,000 Chinese soldiers now occupy your beloved country. Your families are filled with misery, terror and poverty. Has the CCF brought you victory? Or has it brought suffering, death and enslavement? What is the future of the North Korean people who now live under the brutal heel of the CCF? Soldiers, beware of your real enemy the CCF! Korea is for the Koreans!

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Leaflet #1281

A second exploitation leaflet is coded 1281. The leaflet depicts four Chinese soldiers in a Korean home demanding food from a poor Korean woman. The title is:


The Chinese soldiers demand food from the poor woman:

What no rice?
Stew a chicken!
Kill a pig!
Prepare our beds!

It is interesting to note that beside each soldier’s comments there is a drawing of the item in question. This would make the leaflet readable even by someone who did not read or speak the language. Text on the back is:

You are hungry because of the Chinese Communist Forces

Did you hear what happened in Wonsan last year? Communist Chinese guards at a storage depot ruthlessly shot starving Wonsan citizens who begged for rice to alleviate their hunger. This was rice produced by your sweat and toil and stolen by the Chinese Communist Forces.

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Leaflet 7129 Front

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Leaflet 7129 Back - Russian Control of China
(Leaflet courtesy of Lee Richards)

At the same time the United Nations said that North Korea was a tool of China, they also said the China was a tool of the U.S.S.R . Leaflet 7129 is entitled "Russian Control of China," dated 28 January 1952. It is aimed at the Chinese Army in Korea. It was part of a "Plan Sellout" campaign illustrating the contrast between past Chinese resistance to invasion and the current Soviet infiltration of China. The front of the leaflet depicts Chinese defending their country from the Great Wall. The text is:

For centuries the Chinese people have valiantly resisted barbarian invaders from the NORTH...

The back depicts Chinese Communist leaders opening the gates and letting Russians enter. The text is:

But today, Chinese Communist leaders are treasonably opening China to the Russians and Soviet domination! China's chief threat still comes from the barbarian hordes from the north. Chinese soldier. Look to your homeland!

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Leaflet 8734

Self criticism is one of the key tenets of the Communist guerrilla philosophy. An example came to light a decade later during the Viet Nam War when the Viet Cong Oath of Honor stated:

I swear to indulge in self-criticism…

Self-criticism was a way for the Communist cadre to mold and lead the soldiers using peer pressure to make them conform. However, it is clear that soldiers taking part in self-criticism were not happy. It was said that they would rather be beaten then suffer the loss of face of being berated before their comrades. As a result, the UN prepared a leaflet in April 1953 that depicted a soldier surrounded by his comrades being critiqued by his Communist commissar. The text was:

Criticism and self-criticism is mental torture!

You suffer from unbearable loss of face!

Blame the Communists!

For those readers that have spent no time in Asia and do not understand the importance of “face,” I add a comment by Robert J. Kodosky, Psychological Operations American Style – the Joint United States Public Affairs Office, Vietnam and Beyond: Lexington Books, Lanham, MD, 2007. He quotes a United States Information Agency researcher:

Face is important to the peasant, as to all East Asians. Where face is lost, there can be no harmony, and harmony is more important than abstract principles of justice.

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Leaflet 8656

I added this 30 June 1952 U.S. Eighth Army Headquarters leaflet because it is the only example of a triangular propaganda leaflet that I have ever seen. It is a very odd shape and one wonders how the flight characteristics of the leaflet were figured out by the propagandists who were assigned the task of dropping it on a target site with some accuracy. The leaflet was dropped on Chinese troops and depicts a Communist soldier being forced to confess to fellow troops on the front, and the same troops escaping from the dark to the light on the back. Leaflet 8650 used the exact same theme. There was a belief that pointing out the demeaning and embarrassing nature of these so-called “confessions” might motivate an enemy to desert the Communist forces. The text is:


Come over to the United Nations and you won’t have to torture yourself.

Come over to the United Nations and be free of humiliation by the Communists.

Come over to the United Nations and you will not be “pressed” with three confessions and one examination.

I thought the readers might be interested in the Chinese Communist concept of confessions so pulled out my 1972 Peking copy of Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse Tung (The “Little Red Book”) and found this passage:

We should not become complacent over any success. We should check our complacency and constantly criticize our short-comings, just as we should wash our faces or sweep the floor every day to remove the dirt and keep them clean.

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Leaflet # 1243

Another example of how the North Korean people are being used is leaflet 1243 which depicts a giant communist serpent squeezing the life and resources out of a North Korean. (18 November 1952).

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Leaflet # 1040 "Why die for China or Russia?"

Although not specifically mentioned by Pease, a very popular theme was that the North Koreans were being killed on the orders of Moscow and Peking. Numerous leaflets pictured the North Koreans being urged forward by Stalin, Mao, or foreign commissars. An example is shown above in leaflet coded 1040. This type of leaflet appears to have been ineffective. The text on the back is:

Soldiers of North Korea! The Russian have sent in Chinese soldiers in a last effort to make Korea a puppet state. The Chinese have already taken command of all Communist military forces in Korea. The Chinese generals plan to use Korean soldiers to do the worst fighting. Then, after many Korean soldiers have been killed or wounded, the Chinese will be able to seize control of all North Korea. Is this what you are fighting for – to give Korea to the Chinese and the Russians?

Carl Berger says:

Chinese troops did not appear to identify symbols the way U.N. leaflets intended. A leaflet showing Stalin kicking the Chinese was interpreted as Stalin kicking the Americans.

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Leaflet # 1187

Following the theme that North Koreans were being killed on the orders of Moscow and Peking, Leaflet # 1187 depicts a "Soviet Russian Imperialist" pushing Mao Tse Tung who in turn is pushing Kim Il Sung who is pushing an unwilling North Korean soldier into the fire labeled "Communist Agression."  The leaflet was part of Plan Fraud, designed to discredit the leaders of North Korea because of its subservience to foreign control.

The title of the leaflet is:

The North Korean Soldier is Forced to Fight Soviet Russia’s War

Text on the back of the leaflet tells the finder that the Russians have lied to the Koreans and use them for cannon fodder while making North Korea a slave of the USSR. The text ends:

A weakened Korea is easy prey for China and Soviet Russia. Unless you resist Communism, Korea will be forced into the legion of lost nations.

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Leaflet 1189

Another Plan Fraud leaflet was printed on 17 June 1952 to convince the North Korean people and Army that Soviet Control of Korea is the aim of the Communist leaders. The leaflet depicts a large snake symbolizing Communism crushing the people. The text is:

The Communist Aggressive War Strangles the People to Death.

The back is all text and says in part:

The Korean Communists deceive you when they say they want a free, unified, independent Korea. They are really attempting to make all Korea s slave state of Soviet Russia by force. This is what they mean by unification…

A divided Korea facilitates Soviet domination and control. Unless Communism is resisted, a free, unified, independent Korea – the goal of every patriotic Korean – will never be reached.


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Leaflet 8731

The number of leaflets using the theme of Russian manipulation of China and North Korea is countless. Leaflet 8731 was prepared in March 1953 as part of Plan Strike and depicted Mao as a puppet with the Russian behind a screen manipulating him. Russian Premier Josef Stalin had just died and the United Nations needed to remind the Chinese and North Korean troops that even with the old dictator dead, another Russian would take his place and continue the puppetry. Some of the text is:

Josef Stalin, leader of international Communism died on 5 March 1953. Mao Tse Tung now has a golden opportunity to begin acting for China instead of Russia. Will he use it? The Russian Communists, careful to keep power in their greedy hands, will attempt to force Mao to continue to be the puppet of the new Russian leaders…

Behold the treachery of the Russian Communists!

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Leaflet 7095 - "Don't die for the communists"

The black and white leaflet 7095 targets the Chinese Army. The front depicts the hand of death grimly counting his army on an abacus. Skulls, similar in size to abacus beads, form the background. The number shown on the abacus is 1,262,335. The back is all text:

Communist Leaders Celebrate Year in Korea.

While Chairman Mao and his henchmen gaily celebrate at home, Chinese soldiers continue to die uselessly in a foreign war. To date, 1,262,335 communist soldiers have died or been wounded in Korea.

As Mao celebrates the event, Death has his own celebration. Each click of the abacus means another communist soldier has died or is suffering. Each day the total climbs higher, higher, higher. Unless you escape, you too, will be killed or wounded.

Don't die for the communists. Save your life. Escape.

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Leaflet R-1168

Starting about February 1952 the North Koreans initiated a campaign of accusing the Americans of using germ warfare against the Korean people. I mention their claims in my article Communist North Korea War Leaflets. The Allies ignored the claims at first, but were eventually persuaded to reply with a leaflet blaming the Chinese for the disease and death. The leaflet coded R-1168 was printed on 3 April 1952 and depicts a thuggish diseased Chinese soldier above Korean civilians mourning their dead and sick family members while rats scurry in the foreground. The letter “R” usually indicates a reprinting of the leaflet. Text on the front is:


Communist inefficiency, irresponsibility and apathy are reported to have caused wide spread disease in Korea today.

The back is all text, very long and says in part:


DEMAND inoculation which prevents disease…DEMAND extermination of rats and insects…DEMAND isolation of the sick…DEMAND expulsion of infected Chinese soldiers…DEMAND effective preventive medications for yourself and your family…

The text goes on to quote the Chief of the Chinese Medical Corps who allegedly said that the “plague” started shortly after Chinese troops entered Korea. He says that he found Chinese soldiers using bodies as shields and just throwing water over them to cover them with ice. As the bodies thawed in the spring the bodies began deteriorating, another cause of the plague.

The leaflet says that as the Communist troops retreated, they scorched the earth and poisoned the wells to stop the advancing UN soldiers. Thus, they caused much of the problem. The leaflet goes on to say that the United Nations forces offered medical help through neutral countries, the World Health Organization, and the Red Cross but the Chinese and Russians refused the offer. It asks the Korean people to demand effective medical treatment right now.


Leaflet 1059 – Korean Language

Leaflet 1059 also attacks the Communist claims of germ warfare. The layout is a bit different, with two images horizontal on the front and one vertical image on the back It attacks the Chinese claims that the United States is using germ warfare. The leaflet was titled “Science and Superstition,” and the theme was the superiority of the medical services of the United Nations forces. At the left on the front the conventional Eastern symbols of evil spirits labeled Sickness, Disease, and Death are attacking Chinese soldiers who have not received preventative medicine and vaccines. A medic stands in dismay as he sees his comrades dying. The text is:


The image on the right shows healthy U.N. soldiers getting their shots. The text is:


Disease and death - They cannot penetrate the healthy armor of the men who have been inoculated against them.

On the back a Chinese prisoner-of-war holds an evil spirit by the throat as a U.N. doctor inoculates him. The text is:

Communist leaders claim that they do not believe in superstition and that they believe in science and scientific preventive medicine.


All U.N. soldiers are carefully guarded against disease by the methodic schedule of medical injection.

All Communist soldiers who come over to our side receive the same medical protection.


I have gone to a lot of trouble to fully translate this leaflet because it is important. During the Korean War, disease ravaged the Chinese and North Korean armies, and thousands were killed. They claimed that the U.S. was committing germ warfare, but a secret team was sent into the north to discover what was happening and found disease running rampant among the enemy. Dwight Jon Zimmerman mentions this operation in the 9 October 2014 issue of Defense Media Network. He says in part, heavily edited for brevity:

On 19 October 1950, the first contingent of more than a million troops of the “Chinese People’s Volunteers” crossed the Chinese/North Korean border of the Yalu River. This force brought two things into North Korea. The first was 260,000 troops to help North Korea fight the United Nations troops. The second was contagious diseases. When the allied troops recaptured Seoul and advanced to the 38th parallel, they discovered a civilian population decimated by epidemics of typhus, smallpox, and typhoid. In addition, thousands of captured Chinese and North Korean troops were found to be ill with these and other contagious diseases. The POWs stated such things as, “Half my unit’s sick. Men turned black when they were dying.” Mentions of victims turning black shortly before their death suggested that bubonic plague – “the Black Death” – was in Korea. North Korea’s rudimentary healthcare system had collapsed under the combined weight of thousands of infected troops spread throughout the country, a large, displaced population, contaminated water, unhygienic living conditions, and other problems.

A joint CIA and Navy operation was quickly organized. The CIA’s Z Unit, based in Tokyo and led by Major Jack Y. Canon, was in overall command. Leading the small team into North Korea was one of the Navy’s most outstanding junior officers in the war, Lieutenant Eugene F. Clark. He was able to confirm epidemics of typhus, typhoid, and smallpox. And most importantly, he determined that there was no evidence of bubonic plague. As it turned out, the “Black Death” plague was a virulent form of smallpox known as hemorrhagic smallpox. The reason it was mistaken for bubonic plague was because it also causes the body to turn black as the victim nears death. In the following weeks, it was determined that because of North Korean inability to control the epidemics, the North Korean prewar population of 11 million had shrunk to about 3 million people.

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Leaflet 8636

This Korean War leaflet was badly damaged in the war and some of the text is missing. The front depicts a Chinese soldier standing on a representation of Korea (marked with a UN symbol in the south) and China in the background and scratching his chest and his back. The implication is that he is infested with vermin. Some of the text is:

The cadres say: “If we don't kill the lice, the lice will kill us.”

The back depicts a giant body louse with a hammer and sickle on its back. Curiously, during WWII the Soviet Union printed several leaflets showing Adolf Hitler’s face on a body louse. The text is in part:

The Cadres say: “If we don't kill the lice, the lice will kill us.”

The cadres are right, but who brought the lice to Korea? The Communist Party!

The Communists drink the people's fat and blood, and say that the bugs did it!>

Lice that are found on the body are different from lice found on the head or on the pubic area. Human body lice are only found on the body. Infestations are generally spread by close contact with other people and are typically found in areas of poor hygiene and crowding.


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Leaflet 7096 - A parody of a famous Chinese war poem

Leaflet 7096 was disseminated on 24 October 1951. The black and white leaflet is targeted at the Chinese Army and the text is a parody of a famous Chinese war poem. The front depicts a sleeping woman dreaming of the return of her soldier husband. The text is:

While their forms in dreams arise to fair ones far away...

Her dead husband is depicted on the back of the leaflet with the text:

...but along the river bank their bones lie scattered where they may. Her husband will not return home because he lies dead by a river bank. But, you can escape.

Brauer adds:

This leaflet, general nostalgia, attempts to capitalize on a famous Chinese war poem and to exploit the sex angle. However, it is too complicated and was probably understood by only a few of the better educated. Whether the leaflet has sex appeal is purely speculative and highly improbable. Sex evidently does not appeal (strange as it may seem) to the Oriental in any manner comparable to that of Americans. All Orientals I worked with held this view.

They could, however, give no satisfactory explanation, nor did they know how the sex angle could be exploited against an Oriental target audience.

I conducted a simple test on three members of a POW panel who were aiding us in the preparation of leaflets, in an effort to determine if even a rudimentary reaction to sex (by our standard of measurements) could be detected. Four proposed leaflets, together with a picture of a luscious female nude, were handed to these members for any response upon which effective propaganda leaflets could be based. They took one look at the nude and without batting an eye handed it back as no good.

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Leaflet 1118

I have added this leaflet because the Allies liked the image and used it numerous times. The front of the leaflet depicts a mother in tears thinking of her son dead on the battlefield. We find it on leaflets 1118 (Korean language) and 7099, 8606 and 8608 (Chinese language). The motivation is always the same: to target the Communist policy of severing family ties. What is particularly interesting about this Korean War leaflet is that the face of the woman is exactly the same as a leaflet printed by U.S. forces in the Vietnam War.

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Vietnam War Leaflet SP-2263

I can hardly think of another case where the same image was used by U.S. forces in two wars. The text on Korean War leaflet 1118 says in part:


Why must 1 be forced to die? If only I had acted earlier I could have escaped. When the Communists saw that I could no longer fight they left me to die alone. If my mother knew, how she would weep. I wonder how they will tell her. How sad she will be?

Perhaps my comrades will be wiser than I was – if I could only tell them!


On Korean War leaflet 8608 the text is more personal:

Many of your heavily wounded comrades cried "Mother, I am finished’ before they died. The Communists have forced you to give up your family relationship and forced you to be sacrificed in Korea for Communism. If you still remember your beloved mother, you should come over to the UN lines immediately so that you may be able to save your lives.

Pin-Up Girls for the Chinese and North Koreans

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Leaflet 8729

I added this leaflet because it depicts what might be considered a “pin up” for Chinese troops. It was hoped that they would save the picture of the pretty Chinese girl in traditional dress. This leaflet was produced by the Psychological Warfare Division G3 (Operations) EUSAK on 8 March 1953 as part of “Plan Divide.” The leaflet is designed to stimulate longing for normal human relationships and to create dissension against the government which denies them. The leaflet depicts a photograph of Pretty Chinese woman in a formal silk dress. The front and the back are identical. The text is:

No man’s Life is Complete without a Wife and Sons.

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Leaflet 8727

The same girl is depicted on “Plan Divide” leaflet 8727, printed 6 March 1953 and targeting Chinese forces opposite the U.S. 8th Army. The front and the back are identical. The text is: 

When will you see your sweetheart again?

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this leaflet is that it turned out that the pretty young woman was the very patriotic daughter of a South Korean Minister who had never given permission for its use. Allegedly, the minister came upon a copy of the leaflet and raised “Hell” with the American propagandists.

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Leaflet 8436

This leaflet has a photograph of a North Korean girl designed to evoke nostalgia in their troops in South Korea. It was designed by the 8th Army Psychological Warfare Division G3 (Operations) on 2 June 1953. The text is:

Your wives and sweethearts are longing for your return home

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Leaflet 7209

This leaflet is also a pin-up girl for the Chinese but has an interesting back story. According to Stanley Sandler in Cease Resistance: It’s good for you, self-published, 1999, there was a female UN propaganda broadcaster named Lhanssa (Flowering Grace) that was very popular among the Chinese Communist troops. The UN wanted to take advantage of this so prepared a leaflet showing a beautiful girl in a slit-skirt with jewelry. When shown to Chinese POWs, peasant farmers, laborers and many who could not read, they said, “What would a woman like that see in a man like me?” The Americans had thought of what they would find attractive and picked the wrong model. It was a cultural error. They then went out and found an attractive peasant girl and gave her a red snapper to clean and a bucket for the scales. The Chinese POWs liked this girl a lot. She was a winner!

The front of the leaflet shows a beautiful Chinese girl and the text:

On this Lunar New Year you can only think of her back home wondering and wishing….

Will you be home with her next New Year?

The back of the leaflet is all text and points out that each year under communism is worse than the one before. It says in part:


The Communists tricked you to “turn turtle” and “struggle.”

“Join the Army” and you were sentenced to Korea.

Taxes, collections, extortions …no family can save grain.

The Chinese people are forced to become slaves.

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Leaflet # 7234

Leaflet coded 7234 depicts a Russian Officer riding on back of Mao Tse Tung. Two other Russians are mounted on Chou En Lai and Liu Shao Gee. The road is labeled: "Road to failure." The bone held in front of Mao is labeled "Political Power". The Chinese subservience to their Russian masters. The text reads:

Chinese Subservience - The Chinese Communists bend body and knees to Soviet Russia! (6 March 1953).

The back of the leaflet has an illustration of a Russian Officer reading a  paper labeled "Plans for China" to three dogs whose heads are Mao, Shao and Liu.

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Leaflet # 7227  "Guard Your Home!"

During the Korean War the above leaflet was released in both Chinese and Korean versions. The leaflet above is the Chinese version and depicts a Chinese women being raped by a horrific looking  Russian soldier while two other soldiers hold another poor woman prisoner while they wait their turn. The message, intended for Chinese soldiers fighting in Korea, was for them to stop fighting and return to China to:

Guard your Homes and Protect Your Country. 

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The United Nations Flag Leaflet

Another popular theme was the number of countries on the Allied side. Leaflets showing the flags of the countries fighting against the enemy would be used in almost every war that the United States Army took part in after the Korean War. This large leaflet depicts the flags of 54 nations that have allied against the North Korean Army. The back of the leaflet shows various armed forces of those nations.

A second leaflet prepared in February 1952 uses a similar format with the flags of the 54 nations on front, but the back is all text. The Korean-language text on the front above the flags is:

These United Nations who help Korea in her noble struggle for independence, join and send their congratulations to every to every Korean patriot who shares the spirit of freedom expressed in the 1 March 1919 Declaration of Independence.

The text on the back of the second leaflet consists of extracts from the Korean declaration of Independence.

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Leaflet 0705

A second leaflet featuring the United Nations flag is coded 0705. Printed 30 April 1952, this leaflet was part of “Plan Mist,” an attempt to distract the Communists from the observance of May Day. The front of the small leaflet depicts the UN Flag; there is a short text message on the back:

The United Nations – Defenders of Peace and Justice.

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Leaflet # 8227

A third leaflet that depicts the UN Flag is coded 8227. It was determined that the United Nations symbol and the communist symbol are not as well known by the average  North Korean soldier. Since these symbols are used with increasing frequency by the UN and the enemy in publications and as insignia, it was felt that an effort should be made to impress upon the common enemy soldier that the UN symbol represents freedom and hope and that the Communists represents slavery and death.

The front of the leaflet depicts the flag and the text:

Remember this symbol! It is the symbol of freedom and hope! 

The back is all text:

Do you know what freedom and hope really are?

1. Freedom is freeing yourself from the never ending surveillance of the Communists!
2. Freedom is returning to enjoy a happy family life!
3. Freedom is working at your chosen occupation!
4. Freedom is refusing to swim in the UN sea of fire!
5. Freedom is escaping a dog’s death under the Communists!
1. Hope is expecting to live like a man again!
2. Hope is expecting not to work and march and dig all day and night!
3. Hope is expecting to die at home!
4. Hope is expecting to free Korea from the Communist yoke!
5. Hope is expecting to overthrow Communist oppression and tyranny! 


Leaflet 1021 also depicts the United Nations flag on the front. This 4 x 5-inch leaflet has text on the back that says:

This is the flag of the United Nations

The United Nations is working for the establishment of a united, independent, and democratic Korea. Only the Communists oppose this, and insist on continuing the war of aggression they started on 25 June.

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Leaflet # 1284

I selected this leaflet because the vignette is extremely attractive with the smiling family on the front looking up at the full color Korean flag. On the back, an unhappy Korean woman clutches her child. The leaflet was prepared on 18 February 1953 for North Korean civilians and military by the 8239th Army Unit of the 1st Radio Broadcasting & Leaflet Group. It was part of “Plan Patriot,” designed to commemorate the 1919 Korean revolt and revive that spirit against the slavery of Communism. The text on the front is:

The Taikuk flag, the flag you missed so much! Long live unification and independence!

Text on the back is in part:

Keep up the March 1st spirit of your patriotic Martyrs!

How much and how long did you suffer the unbearable shame of a people without sovereignty?

Korea was a mother lost in the darkness of a storm night, trying hard to save her child by embracing him tightly.

But today, in “liberated” Korea, the Communists deny Korean independence and free unification. They sentence North Koreans to a living Hell for their master, Stalin. Under a red flag, not your TAIKUK flag, they force Koreans to kill their brothers. What a pity it is!

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Leaflet 1102

I selected this September 1951 leaflet because besides the Korean flag is also depicts a historical Korean figure. The leaflet depicts Tangun, the legendary father of the Korean nation. He welcomes South Korean soldiers in the Communist ranks back to his cause. The title of the leaflet is:

One Father – One Blood – One Undivided Nation

The text on the back consists of two letters written to the Republic Of Korea by Communist soldiers requesting that they be allowed to surrender and return. They promise to show up unarmed with their hands up. Just to make sure that the readers of the leaflet are not confused, the leaflet ends:

This is a letter written by two ROK soldiers with the Communist forces who wish to come over to the United Nations side. You do not need to write a letter to come over to the United Nations side.

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Leaflet 8119

This early leaflet was printed 15 April 1951 by the PSYWAR Section of the Eighth U.S. Army Korea and depicts the South Korean flag. The text on the front is:

Here is your true Flag

The back has a long text to former South Korean soldiers who might have been captured and impressed into the North Korean 45th Division. Some of the text is:

Your Communist captors have forced you to endure great hardships. The U.N. forces understand that you have been forced to fight your dear brothers. Come to the U.N. lines. You will be fed and clothed, and if you wish, will be allowed to rejoin your comrades in arms in the battle for a free Korea….

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Leaflet 8417

Another leaflet that depicts the Korean flag is coded 8417. This March 1953 leaflet was designed to bolster the reputation of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. The same themes would be used a decade later in the Vietnam war when countless leaflets were produced displaying the bravery and fearlessness of the South Vietnamese forces. The leaflet pictures South Korean forces on patrol at the left and the flag of the Republic of Korea on the right. The text is:

The Army of the Republic of Korea is a powerful fighting force protecting the Fatherland!

The back of the leaflet is all text and explains the history of the ROK army, from 1946 when the first battalion was formed until the present (1953). Some of the text is:

The patriotism and courage displayed by the ROK Army has won the respect of the free peoples of the world. Today the ROK Army continues to build new infantry divisions and new tank and artillery battalions.

The ROK Army has become so strong that it is now capable of conducting the major fighting of the war. It stands as a bulwark for all free people against Communist aggression.

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Leaflet 1344

When I first saw this 7 August 1953 First Broadcasting and Leaflet Group leaflet depicting the Indian flag I had to do a double-take. The fact sheet with the leaflet explains that it is designed to make the North Koreans in prisoner of war camps familiar with the Indian contingent of the Neutral Nations Commission. The text is:

India, a new democratic nation which under the flag of freedom and democracy recently gave their people the privilege of freely voting for leaders of their choice; this is “Democracy in action.” India has proven that democracy can flourish on Asian soil.

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Leaflet # 7222

Leaflet 7222 A third United Nations Leaflet using a flag as theme depicts the Chinese Communist flag and the text:

This is a United Nations message for the Communist military forces. Post it for them to see. This is the flag forced upon the Chinese people by Communist Traitors. Tear it up!

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Leaflet 8720

Leaflet 8720 also depicts a flag as the main theme. The Communist flag is depicted on both the front and the back and on one side a coffin has been added.The leaflet was printed by the Psychological Warfare Division of EUSAK on 2 February 1953. The leaflet was requested by Republic of Korea troops to be dropped on the Chinese 416th Regiment. The text is:



The United Nations mourns the unnecessary dead of the 2nd battalion who died is the cause of Red Russia on 25 January 1953

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Leaflet 0109

I added this miniature flag leaflet only because it uses an interesting sort of propaganda, attacking and defacing a North Korean flag by removing the red star and replacing it with the symbol of death. The leaflet was prepared by the First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group on 7 June 1952. This was part of a series starting at 0105 and depicting the United Nations flag, the Republic of Korea flag, The North Korean flag and a Hammer and Sickle flag. The first four were for Plan Mist, to distract from the Communist observance of May Day. This last leaflet was for Plan Invader, instructing the Korean people of the various flags of the warring parties. The skull was designed to give the flag an evil connotation. There is no text on the front. Text on the back is:

This is the flag of aggression. It stands for misery and death.

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Leaflet # 9501 - Plan United

Another United Nations operation where a number of leaflets with flags were depicted occurred in early 1952 when a series of 18 leaflets were printed to warn the Communists of all the nations allied with the United States and South Korea.

The leaflets were requested by the Eighth U.S. Army, Korea, and this is signified by the asterisk at the end of the numerical code. Leaflet 9501* is the second leaflet in the series and featured the French. The leaflet depicts a French and a South Korean officer with arms around each other, and a French officer giving candy to a South Korean child. Some of the text is:>

Soldiers of the North Korean People’s Army

France is another of the many nations fighting Communist aggression here in Korea. Comrades in arms against Communist tyranny. French officers and Republic of Korea Officers in an expression of mutual respect. A French officer on leave from the front offers his curious new friend some sweets.

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Leaflet # 9504 – Plan United

Leaflet 9504* was the fifth leaflet in the series and featured the Canadians. Two photos on the front show a Canadian soldier with Korean children and fixing the tie of a young child. Some of the text is:

Canada is another of the many nations of the UN fighting Communist aggression in Korea. Canada has traditionally upheld freedom of the individual man. Showing tenderness toward others is very characteristic of the Canadians. Playing with Korean children is a favorite pastime of Canadian soldiers, who are here fighting to preserve peace for all people.

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The Russian language Operation Moolah Leaflet

One of the most famous campaigns of the Korean War was Operation Moolah. This was the attempt by the Allies to obtain a modern Communist MIG-15 fighter through the offer of a reward of $50,000 to a pilot who would defect with his aircraft, and an additional $50,000 to the first pilot to take advantage of the offer. The leaflets were prepared in Korean, Chinese and Russian. The above leaflet offers a reward in the Russian language. The United Nations Command was aware that Russian pilots were flying for North Korea and the publicity value of showing the world a live Russian defector would have been a propaganda bonanza. Readers interested in reading more about this campaign should read The Plot to Steal a MIG.

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Leaflet 1080 - A B-29 Warning leaflet

Leaflet 1080 was printed by the First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group on 18 September 1951. It depicted a B-29 Super Fortress on one side and a bombed rail yard on the other. It was prepared to “stimulate the individual soldier’s fear of the United Nation’s material superiority in meeting an attack. The leaflet text is:

These bombs of fire await your next attack

Because your Communist leaders refuse to stop fighting, they force the UN troops to use every powerful weapon against you when you attack. Have you heard about your next attack?

In your next attack you will meet our fire bombs, flame-throwers and destructive artillery. Many of you will not survive the Communist “human sea” offensive

But you can come over to the UN side and save your life.

The United Nations Command sometimes dropped leaflets telling the enemy what towns it was about to bomb. Such a leaflet would have several benefits. First, it showed the North Korean civilian population that the Allies could strike at will and had no fear of the Red Air Forces. A secondary benefit was that the roads would be filled with terrified civilians blocking movement in the north, and the disruption of the Communist economy as the factories were left empty by the fleeing civilians.

Author Orr Kelly mentions these bomb warning leaflets in From a Dark Sky – the Story of U.S. Air Force Special Operations, Presidio Press, Novato, CA, 1996. He says in part:

A Major assignment for the Air Supply and Communication Service unit was dropping propaganda leaflets over enemy territory. Some of the leaflets warned of bombing raids, others urged enemy soldiers to defect, and others were calculated to undermine enemy morale. The Wing was capable of producing and distributing as many as four million five-inch by seven-inch leaflets a day, printed in two colors on both sides of the sheet.

On the night of 12 January 1953, a B-29 bomber was assigned to drop leaflets – some of them warning of eminent bombing B-29 attacks – over five North Korean towns. Three MiGs attacked the bomber and it was shot down. 11 members of the crew survived the crash. They remained in captivity until 3 August 1955 – the last American prisoners of the war to be released by the Chinese.

American propagandists first used such leaflets in WWII over Japan and Burma. According the Carl Berger, An Introduction to Wartime Leaflets, Special Operations Research Office, The American University, 1959:

At the end of the war Japanese officials interrogated on the subject repeatedly cited the warning leaflets as being 'highly effective.' According to one official of the Japanese Foreign Office: "The military had no time to prepare special defenses and practically all persons rushed out of town." During the Korean War these warning leaflets were used repeatedly in "Plan Strike," the name for the campaign to drop leaflets on North Korea warning of impending attack.

Stephen E. Pease tells the story a bit differently. He says that:

During the summer of 1951, under orders from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, leaflets warning civilians to evacuate were dropped on Pyongyang, Chinnampo, Wonsan, and Kanggye before major bombing strikes against fuel and ammo depots and railway yards. This was a ‘Plan Blast’ mission, an attempt to reduce civilian casualties. It was also intended to lower morale and disrupt industrial production. In addition, the fleeing civilians would clog roads and delay the North Korean Army.

To Protect Citizens during Wartime

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Leaflet 1301

The United States Air Force wanted to kill North Korean and Chinese soldiers, but they did not want to kill innocent Korean civilians. During the Korean War, the United States wanted to protect those men and women farmers who worked the fields. This 2 April  1953 leaflet depicts a bomb that has fallen but not exploded. It is a warning to Korean farmers to stay away from bombing targets. The text is: 




There is a four-panel cartoon on the back showing the falling bomb; it buried itself in the ground; a female farmer digs near it; and in the last panel we see an explosion. The text is

Many bombs and shells have fallen. Some do not explode right away because of the soft ground. These duds are dangerous if you touch them. If you work near them, they might explode.

Don't start your spring planting until the North Korean or Chinese army have checked your field and assures you that there are no duds on your land.


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Leaflet 8414

This leaflet also features a four-panel cartoon. They explain the actions of time-delay bomb. The title of this leaflet is “UXB warning.” It was dropped following bombing raids. We see U.N. aircraft bombing a railroad; a repairman comes to fix the damage; he approaches the hole; and in the final panel once again we see an explosion. The text is:

A warning to the laborers repairing the bombed railroad
Take notice of this friendly warning from the UN soldiers
A time-delay bomb - The time-delay bomb which brings death

When the UN planes bomb the railroads
Do not come back to repair the railroads
The time-delay bomb is buried in the ground
It might explode at any time and kill you

I should point out that this leaflet does double duty. Not only does it protect the worker, but it also keeps the railroads from being repaired which would hurt the North Korean and Chinese war effort.

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Leaflet 1081

Examples of these leaflets are 1081 and 1091 that depict B-29 bombers over a barren pock-marked airfield in either red or blue. The text 1081 is:

People of North Korea.

Airfields in North Korea are unsafe!

To save your lives, stay away from airfields at all times!

Leaflet 1091 depicts the same scene of B-29 bombers over a barren pock-marked airfield but in blue. The text on this bomb warning leaflet is:

North Korean civilians!

North Korean airfields are targets for U.N. bombing.

Don’t go near them or risk your lives while the armistice negotiations are going on!

Two bombing PSYWAR operations were planned. ‘Plan Strike’ was the name given to the attacks against communications centers and main supply routes and their warning leaflet operation. Plan Blast was the attacks against Pyongyang and its military targets along with the warning leaflet operation.

For more information on the use of leaflets depicting bombers read The Strategic Bomber and American PSYOP.

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Leaflet 8616

One of the strangest operations late in the Korean War was a series of leaflets entitled “Non-propaganda.” These leaflets were designed to be dropped with regular leaflets in an attempt to confuse the enemy. It was hoped that it would increase the pick-up rate, make the troops curious, baffle the political commissars, and bewilder their officers. The leaflet above has the words “Good Fortune” over brightly colored plum flowers. The back depicts a solar and lunar calendar. Calendars are a very popular PSYOP theme because everyone wants to know what day it is. Often they are very colorful with patriotic pictures. This one just shows a six-month period with no images. Other leaflets in this series depict such Chinese heroes as Dr. Sun Yat Sen and his shrine in China.

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Leaflet 8615

This is another leaflet in the non-propaganda category. This one shows the tomb of the Great Chinese leader Sun Yat Sen and below a picture of the man himself. The back is blank. Once again, it was hoped that the Chinese soldier would pick up this harmless leaflet to look at and the next one he picks up would contain propaganda. The text on the front is:

Sun Yat Sen

Father of China

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Leaflet 0100

A leaflet that is somewhat similar due to the large size of the text was one of a series that was meant to be able to be read from the ground. The series is entitled “Escape, save your life.” Leaflet 0100 simply says in Korean on the front:


The back adds:

The United Nations Command promises you food, clothing and good treatment.

Leaflet 0700 is identical, but in the Chinese language. During the Vietnam War, American forces printed similar leaflets with large text and short messages that a Viet Cong soldier could read in the jungle without having to bend over and pick up.

Leaflet 8167

It was not only large text that was found on some small American leaflets. Sometimes there were just numbers. At least two types of these leaflets exist. In one version, the number of Korean dead and wounded is depicted. An example is leaflet 8167, printed by the Psychological Warfare Division, G-3, of the Eighth U.S. Army. Apparently, these leaflets were part of an “Operation Commando” and as more Koreans became casualties, the number would be greater on later leaflets. The text on leaflet 8167 is:

13993, What is this number?

13993 of your comrades are dead or wounded in the last six days – From 5 to 10 October.

Think. Will you be next?

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Leaflet 8170

Leaflet 8170 also depicts a number. In this case, it does not represent casualties, but instead, North Koreans who have defected to the South. It was hoped that this large number would demoralize the North Koreans and perhaps motivate them to surrender to the Allies. The text on this leaflet is:

184762 – What Does this Figure Mean?

184762 of your comrades have come over to the U.N. forces. They are safe and are living comfortably behind the U.N. lines.

Think. Will you live or die?

Do not be cannon fodder for the Communists. Come over to the U.N. lines at once. You are guaranteed good treatment.

This type of leaflet was not used again in Vietnam, but the North Vietnamese did use something similar. They regularly printed commemorative postage stamps claiming that 500, 1000, 1500 or 2000 U.S. aircraft had been shot down.

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Propaganda Calendar 8256

Calendars were very popular as propaganda leaflets. They were something that every soldier could use to keep track of his time in the war. They were useful, and of course they all contained propaganda. Large wall calendars were printed for civilians to be hung in their home. This was done all through the Cold War and later during the Vietnam War. This calendar is particularly useful since the back was a phrase card that could be used by South Korean troops to talk to the Chinese. The leaflet was requested from the Eighth U.S. Army (Korea) by the Republic of Korea Army for internal use rather than to be dropped on the enemy. It was meant to be used in combat and prisoner of war management. Nine months of 1952 is on the front and the back contains numerous phrases in both Korean and Chinese. An example of the 26 statements follows:

Stop! Surrender! Raise your hands! Don’t move! Throw away your gun! I’ll give you good food! We’ll treat you well if you surrender! You’re surrounded! Save your life!

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Propaganda Calendar 7217

This calendar leaflet was printed by the 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group on 15 December 1952 for Chinese troops in Korea. It was considered a “token gift” and depicted the coming year on the front and back with both a solar and lunar calendar. The solar dates are in red; the lunar dates in black. The text on front and back is:

New Year’s Greetings from the UN!
Lunar-Solar Calendar – 1953

Officers and Men of the Chinese Communist Forces
May you have Peace and Freedom this Year!

We find that these calendars were used as propaganda not only through the Vietnam and Korean wars, but afterwards in the Cold War period. Calendars were made for use by post-war Koreans that bore various pro-government slogans. They are still a popular commodity.

Korean History

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Leaflet 1146

When I find a really different leaflet from any war I add it to the story. First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group leaflet 1146 dated 17 January 1952 is interesting because it reminds the Koreans of their glorious naval past when they sunk entire Japanese fleets through the use of the most advanced Asian warship of the time, the Turtle ship. The leaflet depicts turtle ships attacking Japanese warships and bears the text:


The Japanese invaded Korea twice from 1592 to 1598, in a conflict known as the Imjin War. Korea's advantage in the artillery and shipbuilding technology gave their navy a tremendous advantage. The backbone of the Korean Navy was the heavily-armed panokseon. The Korean fleets could bombard the Japanese ships while remaining outside of the retaliatory range of the Japanese muskets, arrows, and catapults.

The most advanced panokseon was the kobukson or Turtle ship, which was modified by the removal of the elevated command post, the gunwales changed into curved walls, and the addition of a roof covered in iron spikes and hexagonal iron plates. Its walls contained a total of 36 cannon ports. The 100-foot long flat bottom ship was the fastest and most maneuverable existing warship in Asia, powered by two sails and 80 oarsmen taking turns to handle the ship’s 16 oars.

The back of the leaflet is all text and says:

Just 360 years ago during the Imjin War, our ancestors, led by Admiral Yi Sun Shin, heroically drove out the invaders.

Now we are threatened with the foreign yoke of the Communists who are ruthlessly trying to turn family against family, son against son.

This New Year is again the Year of the Dragon. Brave Koreans– unite to drive out the Communist aggressors! With the help of the nations of the Free World we can make Korea once more a nation of


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The 7th PSYOP Group 1972 Calendar for Korea

It is interesting to note that the U.S. Army 7th PSYOP Group was assigned to support the Republic of Korea after the end of the war. In 1972, the Group prepared a propaganda calendar for Korea that depicted various patriotic battle scenes and victories. The month of April had this remarkable painting of the Turtle ships at war.

The Promise of Destruction

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Leaflet 8303

One of the most interesting uses of leaflet PSYOP is to promise the enemy that destruction will follow some act of their part, then cause the destruction, and finally say “I told you so.” This type of campaign does several things to the enemy. First of all, it builds credibility toward Allied propaganda since it is clear that the leaflets told the truth. Second, it shows that the Allies are all powerful since although the enemy has been warned of an action to come, it was unable to stop that action. Such leaflets have been prepared in almost every war but reached their climax during Operation Desert Storm when five different leaflets warned specific Iraqi divisions that they would be bombed, then second leaflets were dropped after the bombing saying “we told you so!” These are very risky operations; should the enemy decide to maximize his airpower over the targets, the Allies could be embarrassed and proven unable to fulfill their claims.

Leaflet 8303 is an early use of a “promise of destruction” campaign. The 4 x 5-inch leaflet was requested by the U.S. Fifth Air Force on 19 June 1952 and entitled “Sinhung-Dong Bridge Strike.” It was prepared for use after the attack as an adjunct to leaflet 8298 which had warned the railroad workers that the bridge construction had been noted and the bridge would be destroyed. The leaflet depicts the destroyed bridge on the front with the text at left and right:

Railroad builders in the Sinhung-Dong area!

United Nations Flying Tigers have kept their promise!

The back is all text and shows a skull and crossed bones inside a black bomb and the text “A second warning.” The message reminds the workers that they were warned the bridge would be bombed. It tells the workers that the UN Flying Tigers will return again and again if work continues.

Leaflet 8309 was also aimed at bridge workers and used the same image of the destroyed bridge. It was more general and addressed to all “Railroad bridge workers in North Korea.” The message is about the same as on leaflet 8303, promising destruction from the UN Flying Tigers. The black bomb on the back no longer depicts the skull and crossed bones and now has the text, “A friendly warning!”

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Leaflet 1111 - Korean Language

Leaflets are not always a simple piece of printed paper. Sometimes the PSYOP troops find ways to make them more interesting and valuable. During WWII the British dropped leaflets attached to tea bags over parts of occupied Europe. The American OSS dropped leaflets in seed packets. Other such "gimmicks" are known to have been used in order to motivate the target audience to pick up and read the propaganda leaflet. Leaflet 7092 is an example of such a ploy. The propaganda leaflet is printed on cigarette paper that has been prepared in such a way that the finder can cut out perfect rectangles to roll his own cigarettes. At the same time the propaganda reminds the enemy soldier how much he misses cigarettes and promises that should he come over to the Allied side such cigarettes will be freely available. The leaflet was produced by the Psychological Warfare Section, General Headquarters, Far East Command, APO 500, in October 1951. It depicts a North Korean soldier enjoying a cigarette. The purpose of the leaflet is to "establish a favorable contact with the enemy so that he will be more receptive to our direct propaganda." The Korean-language text is:

Perhaps your own supply services are not providing you with cigarette paper. We know that you have been using leaflets to roll your cigarettes.

This is a special cigarette paper leaflet prepared for you by the United Nations Command.

The United Nations gives you plenty of ready-made cigarettes.

ENJOY LIFE and plenty of cigarettes away from the war by coming over to the UN side.

Text on each individual cigarette paper is:

Escape to the U.N. lines.

There is also a Chinese language version of this leaflet that is almost identical to leaflet 1111, except that the smoker is clearly Chinese and prepared 7 November 1951. The text is Chinese and the code number is 7092. The text is mostly identical to leaflet to leaflet 1111 above.

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Leaflet R-7093 - Stationery

Another leaflet that served two purposes is this leaflet coded R-7093. The “R” usually denotes “reprint” so this leaflet was popular enough to have been printed more than once. I have seen other varieties that used this writing paper theme. For instance, this same leaflet appears in Korean text with the code number 1112. The leaflet depicts a Chinese soldier writing to his wife and baby on one side in a reddish color, while on the other we see a Chinese prisoner-of-war writing home at the left, and happy POWs playing horseshoes at the right. The concept of course is for the Chinese soldier to use the writing paper, which would be in great demand, to write home. While writing on the paper he would read the propaganda and this would be the opening gambit in the psychological attack on his morale.

The leaflet was printed by the 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group in October 1951. The text is:

You have not got any mail from home for quite a while. You have not written any letters home for quite a while. Cut away the top of this leaflet and then you can use the bottom part for a letter home.

The text on the other side is:

These are two pictures of the daily life of Chinese who have surrendered to United Nations forces.

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Leaflet 8398

Sometimes the propagandists were very sneaky in their use of writing paper. In this case they have produced a beautiful leaflet showing a home scene of North Korea in full color. There is a propaganda text off to the side. The back is blank. The concept was that a North Korean soldier will want to use the leaflet as writing paper and since the front is just a nice scene he will get in no trouble if he cuts off the text. But, to cut it off he will read it. It was a way to get him to pick it up. The front depicts children playing on a see-saw. The theme was “Worry over home and family.” The leaflet was produced by the Eighth Army G3 (Operations Section) on 6 March 1953. The text is:/p>

If you worry about your home and if you can’t visit your family, blame the Communists!

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Dummy Airfield Streamer Number 15

One of the strangest propaganda items dropped by United Nations aircraft was this streamer, dropped over “dummy” airfields (areas where deceptive models of buildings and aircraft were placed by the North Koreans in an attempt to fool the United Nations into wasting bombs on valueless targets). It was hoped that by pointing out that their deception had failed, the Communist leaders would lose “face” and be embarrassed in front of the local people and their own soldiers.

This 23 June 1952 streamer was requested by the United States Fifth Air Force from EUSAK and says: 

The United Nations knows that your leaders have built dummy airfields in this area!

The aggression and lies of the Communists cannot be concealed!

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Slogan Streamer 8666

A second “slogan streamer” is coded 8666 and was prepared on 4 August 1952. It is targeted at Chinese forces in Korea and depicts poverty-stricken people and the text:

Under the Communists, the rich become poor and the poor become poorer.

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Leaflet 1151R– Peace

Many of the Allied leaflets discuss peace and who is to blame for blocking the talks. Of course, each side blamed the other, and here we see a Korean Officer talking while behind him a Chinese officer mouths the exact same words. At the right the Korean Officer says


But, at the left we see an image of heavy construction and a Russian fighter aircraft and both the Korean and the Chinese officers say:

Airport construction; Airport construction; Airport construction.

The text at the bottom of the leaflet says:

The Free World is not fooled by the lies of the Communists.

The back is all text:

At the peace talk table, The Communist party is shouting “Peace,” but what they really want is to construct airports to continue the war. Where there is a Communist party, there is no true peace for free people. If there is anything, it is betrayal, hunger and suffering. The meaning of the word “Peace” when used by the Communists is “War.”

This leaflet bears an “R” at the end of the code 1151 which means it was popular enough that the Allies decided to reprint it for additional use.

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Leaflet 7248 – Armistice

This 23 May 1953 5 x 8-inch leaflet is one of the last prepared during the Korean War and is designed to show the United Nations wants peace while the Communists seek to prolong the war. The leaflet depicts a Communist Chinese and North Korean officer at the left and a South Korean and United Nations officer (that appears to be an American Lieutenant general) at the right. In the background the citizens of various nations hold flags of peace. Text at the right of the vignette says:

The whole world wants peace, but Communists, under orders from Moscow, have created a stalemate.

The ROK Officer says to the Communist pair:

This is a just and humanitarian way to achieve a real permanent peace in Korea.

The North Korean officer answers:


The back is all text and mentions that time after time, the UN had led the way for discussions of peace in Korea. It lists twelve dates and situations where the UN has attempted peace talks in the past starting with June 1950 and ending in April 1953. The armistice would finally be signed about two months later on 27 July 1953.

Just how effective was the US PSYWAR effort during the Korean War? Paul M. A. Linebarger reports that:

When the question was asked, the answer was vague. Clear cut immediate evaluation of the effects of each propaganda campaign was often impossible to ascertain because of the many intangible conditions that were prevalent in the target area; conditions that were constantly changing.

Some critics of the PsyWar operations in the Far East Command charged that there were exaggerated claims of prisoners of war who surrendered as a result of propaganda. They pointed out that a head count of prisoners is an inaccurate measure of direct effects of PsyWar used in support of military operations, because rarely is the taking of prisoners the sole goal of any major PsyWar campaign.

Other critics expressed the belief that emphasis had been placed on quantity rather than quality of propaganda. By quantity they meant propaganda measured by bookkeeping statistics. By quality they meant propaganda that, planned with potent intelligence, was capable of exploiting propaganda opportunities with maximum psychological impact.

Did PsyWar achieve its goal? The effects of planned persuasion in a thousand days of radio broadcasts, in tens of thousands of loudspeaker appeals, in billions of leaflets, may be measured only in retrospect. The question may be answered when reaction in the target area has reached (or fails to reach) favorable proportion, provided that the tangible results of the military operations can be clearly separated from those of concurrent and subsequent strategic international information operations.

There are two interesting estimates of the cost of killing an enemy soldier or winning him over by PSYOP. A 1951 Air Force report estimated that the cost of killing a soldier was $4500, but the cost of winning him over by PSYOP was $750. A second Air Force Memorandum entitled Cost of Psychological Warfare estimates the killing cost at $150,000 and the PSYOP cost at $2200. About 15 years later Time Magazine did a similar study during the Vietnam War and estimated that the average cost expended to kill one Viet Cong guerilla was $400,000 compared to $125.00 to get him to surrender through psychological operations.

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Leaflet 8343

On the subject of enemy defection, leaflet 8343 depicts a North Korean soldier who defected to the Republic of Korea while assigned as a guard at the Panmunjom Peace Talks. The 17 September 1952 leaflet is in the form of a handwritten letter from Sergeant Lee Dong Yup explaining his motives and depicts the Communist defector at the lower left. On the other side he is shown talking to a ROK soldier. Some of the text is:

North Korean Soldiers! Read my Story!

The Prime motive for my surrender!

I escaped from the Hell of Communism by crossing the “One Life out of Nine Deaths Line” and came some over to the United Nations side where the freedom of human and civil rights is guaranteed…

You too, will realize some day that the Koreans and Chinese are being used by the Russians as their tools for the achievement of their plan…

Free yourselves from the chains of the devilish Communists, and spring up bravely for freedom and happiness!


The problems with PSYOP in Korea are the same as they were in WWII and would be in Vietnam. We find the same complaints in every detailed reference of American psychological operations during wartime. As Linebarger mentions above, in general, line and combat officers do not believe in PSYOP and seldom support it. Since it is almost impossible to evaluate – who knows why an enemy surrenders? – Most line officers think it is highly overrated. As a result, the PSYOP officer spends most of his time trying to sell the idea to combat commanders instead of simply performing his job. The Psychological Warfare Branch of the Far East Command tried to sell the idea with a number of pamphlets to commanders in 1950, with titles such as Dissemination of Leaflets by Artillery, Employment of Tactical Loudspeakers, and Dissemination of leaflets by Aircraft.

The website War is boring featured a March 2015 article entitled: “The Pentagon Dropped Billions of Leaflets...That No One Read.” Joseph Trevithick is a Fellow at GlobalSecurity.org, specializing in defense and security research and analysis. I have edited and shortened some of the comments for brevity:

The United States and its allies dropped some 2.5 billion propaganda leaflets during the Korean War. But after the 1953 armistice which halted the fighting, the Pentagon discovered that few enemy troops ever read the messages, let alone understood them. One reason was that pilots rarely dropped the leaflets in the right places. There were also too many types of leaflets with contradictory and confusing messages.

On paper, the leaflet campaign was impressive. Beginning in 1951, U.S. Air Force pilots in F-51 fighter-bombers and T-6 spotters simply dropped the leaflets in crude bundles from their cockpits. Later, American and South Korean crews kicked the twine-bound stacks out of C-47 transports. In June 1951, the flying branch started dropping M-105 leaflet “bombs.” Each M-105 could carry more than 35,000 notes and split open in the air like a cluster bomb. In addition, troops on the ground could lob leaflets with special artillery shells. Like the bombs, the rounds would burst open in the air and scatter the leaflets.

Between January and June 1951, the Army printed more than 27 million leaflets. Over the next six months, production doubled. The following year, the numbers peaked with an average of 12.5 million leaflets per month coming off the presses. In August 1952, the ground combat branch churned out nearly 20 million leaflets alone. But in talking with prisoners of war, Army officers discovered that many had never even seen any of the leaflets. The Psywar branch had few resources for language and other vital training. Chinese and Korean translators often had trouble converting the spirit of the messages using more culturally appropriate words and phrases.

Units reported to be under self-induced pressure to produce propaganda under any and all considerations. Even more problematic, the language on leaflets and in radio broadcasts was often too complicated for the North Korean and Chinese troops, many whom were illiterate. The Pentagon didn’t research the best places to drop the leaflets, and its method of “blanketing dissemination” over wide areas was completely ineffective. When dropped from high altitudes to avoid enemy fire, crews had little control over where the bundles might fall.

Herbert Avedon notes an obsession with the production of leaflets in Psywar Commentary Number 1, (14 November 1952):

The Far East Command goal seemed simply to drop fourteen million leaflets a week for no other reason than to bring the year’s total to one billion.

Enemy troops are either walking about in piles of leaflets up to their ankles or the billions of leaflets being dropped are scattered all over the Korean hills forever beyond the range of targets.

In addition, the fighting men seldom realize the importance of PSYOP. Pilots don’t want to risk their lives dropping paper instead of bombs, and artillerymen would rather fire high explosives at the enemy instead of “paper bullets.”

Jacobson mentions what almost amount to sabotage:

The artillery community had begun its own psywar campaign and unsubstantiated rumors circulated throughout Eighth Army units that leaflet shells caused excessive wear on artillery tubes, a ridiculous assertion that slowed down, and in some instances stopped leaflet missions until intervention by General McClure at the Pentagon.

Jacobson mentions a second such case when he mentions a letter from a member of a loudspeaker team:

Never in the recorded history of warfare, including that of the United States Army, has there ever been a unit that was hated by both sides…It (the team) performed missions at night, and incredibly, in daylight as well, on an almost daily basis – sometimes two in a 24 hour period and it invariably drew fire, most of them a lot of fire. This did not sit well with our troops who were counting points and hoping that a “live and let live” period would result in a rotation home or a cease-fire. When we appeared, everyone headed for the bunkers after giving us a heartfelt finger or drawing it across their throats.

Jacobson mentions cases where Americans fired at their own loudspeaker teams and one case where a sergeant allegedly threatened to kill the team members with his .45 pistol.

Another problem is that there are seldom enough trained PSYOP officers. As a result, the job usually becomes an extra detail for some regular headquarters officer. There is always a shortage of trained translators. And, there is usually a dearth of supplies, the artillery not wanting to give up their shells and the Air Force not wanting to give up their bombs for leafleting.

Many times there are one or more types of languages spoken by the enemy. A complaint I heard several times was that the U.N. leaflets to Chinese troops in Korea were written in “High Chinese,” the formal language used by wealthy and educated people. The Chinese peasants and farmers drafted into the Army, if they could read at all, read a much simpler type of Chinese. It is likely that the great majority of the Chinese troops that were targeted by the UN had no idea what the message on the leaflet said. The simplified Chinese writing existed, but the Chinese government did not recognize it as an official form of writing until 1956, long after the shooting phase of the war was over. A Chinese scholar told me:

I think the real problem was that the soldiers could not read at all. I heard from some sources that most of the time, the only literate member in a military unit was the political officer. One of his main tasks was to write letters home for his comrades.

In Korea, there was also the inter-service rivalry between the Army and the new Air Force for the leadership of psychological warfare. Both felt that they were better equipped to be the primary service.

There was also the problem of getting the combat troops to accept enemy soldiers who wanted to surrender. This was a great problem in WWII where the military spent a great deal of time and effort convincing its own troops not to kill deserters who may have useful intelligence. Once again, during the Korean War, some American troops disliked taking prisoners.

Hansen mentions an intelligence officer who tried to come over to the Allies until he was cut down.

When his body was pulled in, his notebook was found to be loaded with vital intelligence. But the man himself, who might be presumed to know vastly more, was dead…The circulars and lectures did not touch the Koreans, who figured that the only good communist soldier was a dead one.


Jacobson discusses the effectiveness of the PSYOP campaign in Korea. Some of his comments are:

Did the dissemination of billions of leaflets and thousands of loudspeaker messages make any difference? Did psychological warfare achieve any meaningful results? The problem of evaluating psychological warfare techniques is a problem as old as the weapon itself. Measuring human behavior and attitude change in any situation can prove a tricky and difficult proposition. Overstating the case for psywar and the resultant failure to achieve results caused some commanders, especially in the field, to disregard any claims as to the value of the weapon.

A reasonable estimate provided by U.S. Army official histories concludes that about 450,000 North Korean and Chinese troops perished from 1950-1953. The UN captured somewhere between 160,000 and 180,000 prisoners during the conflict. Determining the exact number is complicated by the fact that many North Korean prisoners did not appear on official rosters. Based on the repatriation numbers from the end of the war, the UN captured 21,374 Chinese troops and 100,000 North Koreans. The UN repatriated approximately 76,823 Koreans and 6,670 Chinese to Communist control at the end of the war. 7900 Koreans and 14,704 Chinese refused to be repatriated. In addition to these 106,000 prisoners, an estimated 60,000 Korean POW’s and civilian internees had already been screened, released, or freed by a sanctioned “escape” ordered by President Syngman Rhee.

Early in the war, General McClure informed the senior Army leadership that 68% of the Chinese forces and 65% of the North Korean forces had been influenced by U.S. psywar programs. EUSAK data for 1952 and 1953 combined proved even more encouraging with 85.6% of Chinese and 68.5% of North Koreans who had voluntarily surrendered admitting they had done so due in part to psywar messages.

Assessments conducted by the military during and after the Korean War demonstrated that psywar messages alone rarely proved to be the decisive factor in creating behavior changes among enemy soldiers. Rather, it was the combined impact of conventional military action and psychological warfare that compelled the enemy to take particular actions.


In theory, the Korean War ended on 27 July 1953 when an agreement was signed between the Commander-in-Chief, United Nations Command, and the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army and the Commander of the Chinese People's volunteers, concerning a military armistice in Korea. This may have been the official truce date, but the armistice negotiations continued for almost two years, first at Kaesong, then at Panmunjom. During this phase and even later, both sides conducted operations in an attempt to get a better deal. The Communists had armed agents left behind or abandoned in South Korea, and the Allies conducted a regular propaganda campaign against them. The Allies prepared several propaganda newspapers designed to keep the people of South Korea updated on current events and loyal to the government.

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Free World Weekly Digest No. 223 – 22 July 1956

The 8339th Army Unit, Far East Psychological Warfare Detachment, published the Free World Weekly Digest for the citizens of the Republic of Korea. Early issues featured short news stories and cartoon strips For instance; Number 219 dated 22 June 1955 mentioned Adenauer of Germany, Chou En-lai, Confucius, Life behind the Iron Curtain and the Voice of the United Nations radio schedule. Number 223, dated 22 July 1955 depicted above mentions Eisenhower, Vishinski, Life behind the Iron Curtain, satellite farm workers miserable, and the Mayor of Seoul granting citizenship to North Korean pilot defectors.

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Bright Hope – No. 23 – 3 April 1956

The Office of Psychological Warfare of the Eight United States Army published the newspaper Bright Hope. It was designed as a semi-monthly newspaper as part of the consolidation effort aimed at those areas liberated from Communist control. It was four pages, with hand-lettered text and headlines, cartoons, illustrations and occasional photographs. The issue above coded 2596 mentions the Communist double-cross in Korea, Atomic weapons to be used if the Communists invade again and the ROK Army second in the Free World.

A third newspaper entitled “Our Village,” was printed by the Psychological Warfare Division of the Eighth United States Army (Forward). This paper was prepared in conjunction with the Republic of Korea Psywar Section. Number 4287 dated 23 November 1954 was designed to forge a good relationship between the army and farmers in the countryside and motivate loyalty toward the Republic of Korea. This issue has numerous articles on agricultural life and practices in South and North Korea.

A fourth PSYOP newspaper was entitled “Rehabilitation News.” It was printed by the Psychological Warfare Division of the Eighth United States Army (Rear) in cooperation with the United Nations Command and the Economic Coordinator for Korea to keep the people of the Republic of Korea updated on what the Free World was doing to rehabilitate their country. Issue 21, coded 5621 and dated 24 February 1956 features 23 short articles including the completion of railroad lines, Greater economic progress, more millions for Korea, etc.

There were also a number of posters and leaflets produced and disseminated shortly after the end of the war. For instance, poster 5825 dated 31 January 1955 informs the Korean people of improvements in their water system while poster 5857 depicts a symbolic illustration of the fight against leprosy. The First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet group was still in Korea and they printed monthly calendars starting about November 1953. The August 1954 calendar coded 2537 featured the birthday of Tan-gun (founder of Korea), Korean Alphabet Day and Sejong the Great who invented the Korean alphabet.

Leaflet 2414 dated 1 June 1956 is entitled “Submission leaflet” and aimed at the Communist bandits in the Mt. Ilwol area. It was printed by the Psychological Warfare Division of the Eighth United States Army (Rear) and addresses the bandit leader by name and describes the conditions under which his band exists and stresses the fact that other such groups have surrendered and the impossibility of escaping back to North Korea. It offers amnesty.

I should note that when the British talked about the guerrillas in Malaya or Kenya they always called them “bandits.” They seldom legitimized them by calling them “Communists” or “Mau Mau.” The Americans seem to have taken the same approach here, and instead of calling these North Korean soldiers left behind as their army retreated, “Communist troops,” prefer to call them “bandits.” It depersonalizes them, makes them criminals and unites the people against them.


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The Memories of Propaganda Leaflets

Many years after the end of the Korean War, I was invited to take part in a Korean Leaflet exhibition. In 2008, The Oldies-But-Goodies Museum of Jeongseon Arirang School in South Korea prepared “The Memories of Propaganda Leaflets,” a special exhibition to depict Korean War and Cold War psychological warfare in the Korean Peninsula. Yongseon Jin exhibited 700 samples of “paper bombs,” the leaflets North and South Korea fired at each other in the years spanning the 1950-53 Korean War and up to 2000, when reconciliation efforts prompted a cease-fire in the propaganda contest. The leaflets are still wonderful historical documents.

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Cheonggyecheon Museum

On the 60th anniversary of the Korean War in August 2010, The Cheonggyecheon Museum in central Seoul held an exhibition entitled “The Unseen War: Flyers.”

According to the Museum, the Communist side dropped 300 million flyers, while the United Nations dispersed 2.5 billion. In Korean these flyers are called ppira, which is a borrowing, through Japanese, of the English word “bill” as in “handbill,” another word for a leaflet. At this exhibition, 445 leaflets were on display. They were provided by the Republic of Korea Military Academy and the Republic of Korea Army Museum, who jointly organized this exhibition with the Cheonggyecheon Museum.

Even after the armistice was signed on July 27, 1953, both sides continued to litter the other with propaganda flyers, millions of them, printed on better quality paper and using photographs as well as caricatures. Instead of using bombers and howitzers, flyers were sent over the DMZ by balloons, in packages designed to scatter over different areas at different times, so as to maximize dispersal. In South Korea, school children were encouraged to collect these leaflets and turn them in to their teachers at school in exchange for a reward such as a notebook or pencils. This was because the leaflets were banned for being seditious literature. North and South Korea only stopped sending leaflets to each other in 2004, as a result of an agreement reached in the year 2000, fifty years after the Korean War began.

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The Korean War Memorial Museum

The Korean War Memorial Museum located in Seoul honors all those troops that fought in the war to protect the sovereignty of South Korea. A number of wartime propaganda leaflets and posters are on permanent display there.

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Leaflet Display

Wooyoung Alex Kim was kind enough to visit the Museum to take some photographs of the Korean War propaganda leaflets on display there. The above picture shows various Allied leaflets to the North Koreans. The picture is small and the leaflets are hard to see but I recognize The 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group leaflet 1285 in the second row from the top, dead center.

For additional information on propaganda used by the two Koreas after the end of the Korean War click here.

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

© 18 January 2006