Sources and quotes on war crimes by the US and its proxies in the Korean War



USAF Far East commander Gen. George E. Stratemeyer, 5 September 1950 (Source, p. 258):

The gist of General MacArthur’s instructions are as follows: Every installation, facility, and village in North Korea now becomes a military and tactical target. THE ONLY EXCEPTIONS ARE: the big hydro-electric power plant on the Manchurian border at Changsi and the hydro-electric power plants in Korea. General MacArthur reiterated his scorched earth policy to burn and destroy. Starting from the Yalu River into Korea, every method of surface communication will be destroyed. The towns on the Korean side, bordering the Yalu River–except between Korea and Russia – will be destroyed.

Gen. Stratemeyer, 5 September 1950, 5 September 1950 (Source, p. 261):

FEAF [Far East Air Force] Bomber Command will destroy the cities and large towns. Aircraft under Fifth Air Force control will destroy all other targets including all buildings capable of affording shelter.

US Ambassador to South Korea John Muccio, 17 November 1950 (Source):

The General [Douglas MacArthur] then went on that he had finally received authorization to knock out the Korean end of the bridges across the Yalu; the Air Force was concentrating on doing so and, at the same time, destroying all resources in the narrow stretch between our present positions and the border. Unfortunately, this area will be left a desert.

US Defense Secretary Robert Lovett, 12 September 1952 (Source):

If we keep on, tearing the place apart, we can make it a most unpopular affair for the North Koreans. We ought to go right ahead.

USAF Gen. Curtis LeMay, 15 June 1984 (Source, p. 88):

Right at the start of the war, unofficially I slipped a message in “under the carpet” in the Pentagon that we ought to turn SAC [Strategic Air Command] loose with incendiaries on some North Korean towns. The answer came back, under the carpet again, that there would be too many civilian casualties; we couldn’t do anything like that. So we went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea anyway, some way or another, and some in South Korea, too. We even burned down Pusan-an accident, but we burned it down anyway. The Marines started a battle down there with no enemy in sight. Over a period of three years or so, we killed off–what–twenty percent of the population of Korea as direct casualties of war, or from starvation and exposure? Over a period of three years, this seemed to be acceptable to everybody, but to kill a few people at the start right away, no, we can’t seem to stomach that.

Quotation of an officer from Capt. Walter Karig’s Battle Report, 1952 (Source):

So, we killed civilians, friendly civilians, and bombed their homes; fired whole villages with the occupants–women and children and 10 times as many hidden communist soldiers–under showers of napalm, and the pilots came back to their ships stinking of vomit twisted up from their vitals by the shock of what they had to do!

Gen. William F. Dean, who was released from North Korean custody (source):

The town of Huichon amazed me. The city I’d seen before–two-storied buildings, a prominent main street–wasn’t there any more.

South Korean strongman Syngman Rhee on his intentions for the occupation of North Korea (source):

I can handle the Communists. The Reds can bury their guns and burn their uniforms, but we know how to find them. With bulldozers we will dig huge excavations and trenches, and fill them with Communists. Then cover them over. And they will really be underground.

Bruce Cumings (source):

The Korean Truth Commission on Civilian Massacres was organized in September 2000. Its charge was to investigate massacres of civilians by all sides before and during the Korean War. […] Ultimately it appears that after the war began in June, South Korean authorities and auxiliary right-wing youth squads executed around 100,000 people and dumped them into trenches and mines, or simply threw them into the sea. […] However much it may discomfit American sensibilities, the record shows that Communist atrocities constituted about one sixth of the total number of cases, and tended to be more discriminating.


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