In a Nutshell
During the Korean War, Allied troops murdered over 100,000 civilians and refugees in a sustained campaign of slaughter that was later covered up.
The Whole Bushel
In July 1950, the Korean War was in full swing. The North was demolishing the South’s forces and US troops were being beaten back in humiliating defeats. Rumors were swirling that Communist troops were breaking through disguised as refugees, and paranoia about guerrilla attacks was at an all-time high. It was into this festering atmosphere that several hundred civilians stepped one morning, fleeing the fighting.
They were mostly refugees from Yongdong, a town recently overrun by the Communist North. Hoping to escape persecution, they fled to the nearby No Gun Ri Bridge, where US troops lined them up for processing. And then the planes came.
Bombers strafed the civilian lines, troops opened up with machine-gun fire. One G.I. later recalled hearing his captain saying: “to hell with these people. Let’s get rid of all of them.” Women and children were gutted by flying metal, bombs incinerated those who tried to run. Even as the civilians screamed, orders were given to keep firing until everyone was dead.
Although shocking, this was not the only Allied massacre of the war. In 2008, it was revealed that as many as 100,000 non-combatants were intentionally murdered in a sustained campaign of terror. Entire villages with left-wing sympathies were rounded up and shot, caves harboring refugees were napalmed by US planes and bombers destroyed whole towns near the frontline—afraid the North Koreans would infect their Southern counterparts with the virus of Communism. These weren’t mistakes, and they weren’t accidents; they were part of a deliberate plan to stop Communism spreading by killing those it might spread to.
In 1951, the peaceful village of Sanseong-dong was targeted. As South Koreans left their homes to wave at the American planes, the order to fire was given. Fifty-one died in the attack, over 50 percent of the town was bombed into ruins. Remembering the massacre later, villager Ahn Hee-duk could only whisper: “There never were any North Koreans in the village.”
For the targeted murder of over 100,000 innocent people, neither the US nor South Korea has ever apologized.