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					           International Baccalaureate




Historical Investigation
               Candidate Number: 002751004




To what extent did the U.S Military Policies during the

 Korean War contribute to the No Gun Ri Massacre of

                         1950?




                    Word Count: 1963




                            1
                           Contents

A. Plan of Investigation              3

B. Summary of Evidence                3

C. Evaluation of Sources              4

D. Analysis                           5

E. Conclusion                         7

F. List of Sources                    8

Appendix                              10




                              2
A. Plan of Investigation

        Veiled behind the forgotten war of history is the brutal massacre of an unknown number of Korean

refugees around the village of No Gun Ri in central South Korea. This investigation will assess the

correlation between U.S military policy, in terms of the movement of refugees during the Korean War, and

the No Gun Ri Massacre. In assessing how the military policies were partly responsible for the massacre,

documents and details from US military records regarding the No Gun Ri incident are examined. Two of the

sources used in the essay, Beyond No Gun Ri: Refugees and the United States Military in the Korean War by

Sahr Conway-Lanz and a letter, known as the Muccio Letter, by the US Ambassador to Korea, John J.

Muccio, are evaluated for the origins, purposes, values, and limitations.



B. Summary of Evidence

        After World War Two, the Korean peninsula was split into the Soviet supported North, and the

American supported South. Five years later, on June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea in an effort

to reunite the country. Ina matter of days, the North had occupied Seoul, the capital of South Korea.

President Truman‟s policy of containment was put to the test by this invasion. The United States appealed to

the United Nations to condemn the attack, as it was determined to prevent domino theory or the spread of

communism in the region, and requested member countries to support South Korea in resisting the North

Korean incursion. North Korean efforts to reunite Korea advanced rapidly until US/UN forces entered the

South to repel the attack.

        After the Battle of the Pusan Perimeter, and a massive amphibious landing at the western-coast port

of Incheon, UN forces maintained a steady move northward and seemed as if the US dominated UN forces

would continue advancing toward China, and possibly attempt to reverse the successful Chinese Communist

Revolution of 1949, not merely accepting its existence and containing it to where it was. Despite Chinese

threats that they would intervene if US/UN forces continued their advance northward, the US/UN military

continued advancing and, in November 1950, the Chinese Army crossed the Yalu River and pressed US/UN

forces steadily southward. For the following two years, the frontlines of the war swayed back and forth,




                                                       3
resulting in a massive increase in the number of refugees. During the Korean War, the number of refugees

exceeded 2.5 million.1

        This was the first armed conflict that the United States would be a part of after the formulation of

human rights and humanitarian standards it helped formulate post World War Two.2 Only one year after the

publishing of the Geneva Conventions, in which signatories vowed to protect civilians in wartime, American

forces would be tested in their resolve to live up to these standards in Korea. The unexpected nature of the

North Korean attack created a swarm of refugees southward, blocking roads and the front lines. The US

could not help but think that North Korean soldiers would take advantage of the chaos and try to cross UN

lines by infiltrating the throng of people.3 On several occasions, American soldiers caught North Korean

soldiers dressed as civilians, trying to cross the lines.4 In order to prevent such penetration by North Korean

soldiers, US military policy had to resort to using violence against the Korean civilians.5 A meeting was held

between the US Eighth Army leadership on July 25, 1950, in which policies of preventing the movement of

refugees were agreed on. In a letter from John J. Muccio, the US Ambassador to South Korea, the meeting

concluded that “refugees...will receive warning shots, and if they then persist in advancing, they will be

shot.”6 Consequently, up to 400 Korean refugees died at No Gun Ri, a village in central South Korea. 7 The

tragedy of the brutal massacre was that No Gun Ri served as an evacuation zone for refugees who thought

they had reached safety.



C. Evaluation of Sources

Conway-Lanz, S. (2005). Beyond No Gun Ri: Refugees and the United States Military in the Korean War.

Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

        This article investigates US military policies and their contribution to the mass killings of refugees

during the Korean War. Conway-Lantz explores orders given by military authorities and newspaper reports

from the Korean War period. Her investigation is important because as it provides first hand evidence of the

1
  Korea Institute of Military History. (2001). The Korean War, Volume 3. U.S: Bison Books.
2
  Conway-Lanz, S. (2005). Beyond No Gun Ri: Refugees and the United States Military in the Korean War. Oxford:
Blackwell Publishing.
3
  Williams, J. (Producer). (2001). Kill „Em All‟: The American Military in Korea. [Timewatch]. London: BBC.
4
  Conway-Lanz, S. (2005). Beyond No Gun Ri: Refugees and the United States Military in the Korean War. Oxford:
Blackwell Publishing.
5
  Conway-Lanz, S. (2005). Beyond No Gun Ri: Refugees and the United States Military in the Korean War. Oxford:
Blackwell Publishing.
6
  Muccio, J. Letter to Foreign Service of the United States of America. 26 Jul. 1950.
7
  Williams, J. (Producer). (2001). Kill „Em All‟: The American Military in Korea. [Timewatch]. London: BBC.
                                                            4
time which outlines the military policies of the US Army. Because of the wide range of primary sources the

author uses to elaborate the No Gun Ri massacre and the US policies that allowed for the tragedy to happen,

this source is valuable in interpreting how US military policies triggered the events at No Gun Ri. Unlike the

Pentagon‟s investigation of the No Gun Ri Massacre, which primarily provides sources advantageous for the

US to avoid blame, this article gives a well-rounded view of the incident as it presents both perspectives; that

the US had no choice but to impose these military policies as a last resort as well as arguing the indefensible

nature of US military actions regarding refugees. The limitation of this source is that, although presenting

both perspectives, it subtly conveys a sense of bias against the US military policies.



Muccio, J. Letter to Foreign Service of the United States of America. 26 Jul. 1950.

        This letter is a primary source written by US Ambassador to South Korea, John J. Muccio, to the US

Secretary of State, Dean Acheson. In the Muccio Letter, as it is known, Ambassador Muccio reports to

Secretary Acheson on the Korean War refugee problem, the increased threat of enemy infiltration because of

this, and the decisions made on how to deal with this threat. This letter is very significant as it was written on

July 26th, 1950, one day before the No Gun Ri massacre. Due to his direct involvement with US military

policy-making in Korea, Ambassador Muccio must be regarded as a key figure and reliable witness to the

events of the massacre. This source is, thus, vital for historians to evaluate the complicity of policy decisions

with the massacre of an ally‟s civilian population. However, it is suspected that Muccio did not attend the

meeting and that his letter was based on the report of a deputy8, which could have resulted in inaccuracies in

the recount given.



D. Analysis

        The Cold War was ignited when North Korean forces invaded South Korea on the 25th of June,

1950, putting President Truman‟s policy of containment to the test. In the first few months of the Korean

War, American soldiers were faced with a refugee crisis due to the rapid movement of North Korean forces

southward. Occasionally, Korean civilians moved toward UN lines in huge numbers and, on occasion,




8
  Weinberg, C. (2008, October). Massacre at No Gun Ri: American Military Policy Toward Civilian Refugees during
the Korean War. OAH Magazine of History, 22(4), 58-60. Retrieved 23, 2009, from Professional Development
Collection database. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=tfh&AN=35000697&site=ehost-live.
                                                           5
American soldiers caught North Korean soldiers disguised in civilian clothing with bundles of arms. 9 The

US had no choice but to use force to stem the tide of enemy infiltration that had already, on several

occasions, attacked US forces from behind the front line.10 According to a State Department advisor‟s

statement to the New York Times, “American soldiers had developed a tendency to regard all Korean

civilians near the battle zone as the enemy.”11

        The policy adopted by US forces to control the flow of refugees was one of movement restrictions.

On July 24th, a communications log from the 8th Cavalry Regiment ordered “no refugees to cross the front

line. Fire everyone trying to cross the lines. Use discretion in the case of women and children.”12 The brutal

massacre occurred two days later on July 26th.

        On the eve of the massacre, key US government officials held met to decide how to control the

movement of refugees. Ambassador John J. Muccio‟s letter recounting the decision made read that “if

refugees do appear from north of US lines they will receive warning shots, and if they then persist in

advancing they will be shot”13, and that Korean civilians would “risk being shot when dark comes.”14 On the

same day, a US Fifth Air Force order stated that, “the army has requested that we strafe all civilian refugee

parties...to date, we have complied with the army request in this respect.”15

        The day following the meeting, the Eighth Army‟s official order declared that “no refugees will be

permitted to cross battle lines at any time. Movement of all Koreans in groups will cease immediately.”16 As

a result, one of the largest massacres of civilians committed by American troops in the 20th Century

occurred. (Williams, 2001) Although many war crimes were conducted during the duration of the war, the

most calamitous was the No Gun Ri Massacre of July 1950.

        According to Korean witnesses, five to six hundred refugees fleeing from North Korean forces were

evacuated by US troops on July 25, 1950, and while heading South, were met by a road block near the


9
  Conway-Lanz, S. (2005). Beyond No Gun Ri: Refugees and the United States Military in the Korean War. Oxford:
Blackwell Publishing.
10
   Conway-Lanz, S. (2005). Beyond No Gun Ri: Refugees and the United States Military in the Korean War. Oxford:
Blackwell Publishing.
11
   Johnston, R. J. H. (1950, September 1). South Korea Hard Pressed to Feed 2,000,000 Refugees. The New York
Times, p.1, 3.
12
   Conway-Lanz, S. (2005). Beyond No Gun Ri: Refugees and the United States Military in the Korean War. Oxford:
Blackwell Publishing.
13
   Muccio, J. Letter to Foreign Service of the United States of America. 26 Jul. 1950.
14
   Williams, J. (Producer). (2001). Kill „Em All‟: The American Military in Korea. [Timewatch]. London: BBC.
15
   Williams, J. (Producer). (2001). Kill „Em All‟: The American Military in Korea. [Timewatch]. London: BBC.
16
   Conway-Lanz, S. (2005). Beyond No Gun Ri: Refugees and the United States Military in the Korean War. Oxford:
Blackwell Publishing.
                                                            6
village of No Gun Ri. Here, they were ordered onto railroad tracks and, a short while later, planes strafed and

killed fifty to one-hundred and fifty of them. The survivors scrambled for cover in the twin tunnels near the

railroad. Details from US military instructions to soldiers read “you have complete authority in your zone to

stop all civilian traffic in any direction. Responsibility to place fire on them to include bombing rests with

you.”17 Although the exact number of deaths is unknown, according to eye-witnesses and veterans, it is

assumed that up to 400 South Korean civilians were killed at No Gun Ri. US military policies to prioritize

victory over civilian lives in Korea set an ominous precedent for future US-led conflicts, such as the 1968

My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War, in which US soldiers used punitive violence on a whole village

of people in order to exterminate the Viet Cong that may have been hiding amongst them.

        US military policy concerning the killing of civilians would continue further into the Korean War,

after No Gun Ri. In the summer of 1950, at a battle near the Naktong River, a communications log from the

1st Cavalry Division ordered troops to “shoot all refugees coming across the river.”18 US orders to kill

refugees came more regularly during the course of the three years and historian Robert Bateman assumes

that American troops were faced with similar circumstances to No Gun Ri on more than nine different

occasions.19 Consequently, many Koreans came to believe that the destruction brought on them by the US

military was unnecessary and that they were fleeing not from the Communists but from US/UN bombing and

shelling.20



E. Conclusion

        US military policies contributed heavily toward the No Gun Ri Massacre in 1950 as clear evidence

shows the orders given by military authorities to shoot and strafe refugees. The US army was, indeed, faced

with an ultimatum; to refrain from the use of force and allow a free movement of civilians, thus risking

infiltration of North Korean soldiers across UN lines or to sacrifice the lives of civilian refugees to prevent a

factor that could contribute to the defeat and ultimately, the future of containing the spread of Communism.

The US military would choose the latter strategy, prioritizing victory at any cost over the safety of civilians.

The US military policy of controlling the movement of refugees by force, would become a significant
17
   Williams, J. (Producer). (2001). Kill „Em All‟: The American Military in Korea. [Timewatch]. London: BBC.
18
   Muccio, J. Letter to Foreign Service of the United States of America. 26 Jul. 1950.
19
   Conway-Lanz, S. (2005). Beyond No Gun Ri: Refugees and the United States Military in the Korean War. Oxford:
Blackwell Publishing.
20
   Barrett, G. (1951, March 3). U.N Losing Favor By Korean Damage: Civilians Returning to Homes are Stunned by
Destruction of Allied Firepower. The New York Times.
                                                            7
development. Not only would hundreds die at No Gun Ri, but it would also foretell the policy the US

military would to adhere to in future conflicts such as Vietnam.




                                                      8
F. List of Sources

      Barrett, G. (1951, March 3). U.N Losing Favor By Korean Damage: Civilians Returning to Homes
       are Stunned by Destruction of Allied Firepower. The New York Times.
      Conway-Lanz, S. (2005). Beyond No Gun Ri: Refugees and the United States Military in the Korean
       War. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
      Johnston, R. J. H. (1950, September 1). South Korea Hard Pressed to Feed 2,000,000 Refugees. The
       New York Times, p.1, 3.
      Muccio, J. Letter to Foreign Service of the United States of America. 26 Jul. 1950.
      Weinberg, C. (2008, October). Massacre at No Gun Ri: American Military Policy Toward Civilian
       Refugees during the Korean War. OAH Magazine of History, 22(4), 58-60. Retrieved 23, 2009, from
       Professional Development Collection database.
       http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=tfh&AN=35000697&site=ehost-live.
      Williams, J. (Producer). (2001). Kill „Em All‟: The American Military in Korea. [Timewatch].
       London: BBC.
      Korea Institute of Military History. (2001). The Korean War, Volume 3. U.S: Bison Books.




                                                    9
Appendix

Muccio Letter

PERSONAL-CONFIDENTIAL

The Foreign Service of the United States of America

American Embassy

July 26, 1950

Dear Dean: The refugee problem has developed aspects of a serious and even critical military nature, aside
from the welfare aspects. Necessarily, decisions are being made by the military in regard to it, and in view of
the possibility of repercussions in the United States from the effectuation of these decisions, I have thought it
desirable to inform you of them.

The enemy has used the refugees to his advantage in many ways: by forcing them south and so clogging the
roads as to interfere with military movements; by using them as a channel for infiltration of agents; and most
dangerous of all by disguising their own troops as refugees, who after passing through our lines proceed,
after dark, to produce hidden weapons, and then attack our units from the rear. Too often such attacks have
been devastatingly successful. Such infiltrations had a considerable part in the defeat of the 24th Division at
Taejon.

Naturally, the Army is determined to end this threat. Yesterday evening a meeting was arranged, by 8th
Army HQ request, at the office of the Home Minister at the temporary Capitol. G-1, G-2, Provost Marshall,
CIC, the Embassy, the Home and Social Affairs Ministries, and the Director National Police. The following
decisions were made:

1. Leaflet drops will be made north of US lines banning the people not to proceed south, that they risk being
fired upon if they do so. If refugees do appear from north of US lines they will receive warning shots, and if
they then persist in advancing they will be shot.

2. Leaflet drops and oral warning by police within US combat zone will be made to the effect that no one can
move south unless ordered, and then only under police control, that all movement of Korean civilians must
end at sunset or those moving will risk being shot when dark comes.

3. Should the local tactical commander consider it essential to evacuate a given sector he will notify the
police liaison officers attached to his HQ, who through the area Korean National Police will notify the
inhabitants, and start them southward under police control on specified minor roads. No one will be
permitted to move unless police notify them, and those further south not notified will be required to stay put.




                                                       10
4. Refugee groups must stop at sunset, and not move again until daylight. Police will establish check points
to catch enemy agents; subsequently Social Ministry will be prepared to care for, and direct refugees to
camps or other areas.

5. No mass movements unless police controlled will be permitted. Individual movements will be subject to
police checks at numerous points.

6. In all cities, towns curfew will be at 9 p.m., with effective enforcement at 10 p.m. Any unauthorized person
on streets after 10 p.m. is to be arrested, and carefully examined. The last item is already in effect.

Sincerely,

John J. Muccio




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