[KS] War Crimes in Korea / Sinchon

Katsiaficas, George katsiaficasg at wit.edu
Thu Mar 6 17:19:20 EST 2008

Dear all,

As Adam Cathcart mentioned, I wrote about the Sinchon massacre after
visiting there in 2003. Here is part of my article:

The Sinchon Museum reminded me of the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. As
I observed victims¹ eyeglasses, hair, shoes and personal belongings stacked
together, I felt simultaneous rage and horror, disbelief and anger.

US responsibility for the Sinchon Massacre is a debated topic in South
Korea. Right-wing thugs who lost properties because of the Workers Party
land reform were also involved in the Sinchon orgy of blood. Apparently,
holocaust denial is not limited to German atrocities during World War 2.
The same forces that collaborated with Japanese colonization of Korea
control the mass media in South Korea. Unlike Germany, which has been
subjected to extensive investigation and compelled to pay substantial
reparations to its victims, Japan‹and subsequently the US‹have never been
compelled even to reveal the full extent of their atrocities.

The full text is available at:

George Katsiaficas

c/o Department of Sociology
Chonnam National University
Buk-ku Yongbongdong 300
500-757 GWANGJU 
South Korea

Cell phone +82-10-6798-5852
Home phone +82-62-530-0549
Fax +82-62-530-2649

> From: Cathcart Adam <adamcathcart at yahoo.com>
> Reply-To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
> Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2008 18:44:06 -0800 (PST)
> To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
> Subject: [KS] War Crimes in Korea / Sinchon
>   The death of North Korean civilians at Sinchon is significant on a few
> levels.  On the one hand, it calls our attention to the always fractious topic
> of war crimes in Korea.  On the other hand ¨C and this is particularly salient
> given the recently successful overture to Pyongyang by a certain North
> American orchestra ¨C the Sinchon massacre has underpinned a great deal of
> anti-U.S. propaganda in the DPRK and today remains a touchstone of the
> North¡¯s Korean War narrative highlighting the brutality of the United States.
>   I was able to dig up a few sources that for the most part stridently reprise
> the North Korean version of the events at Sinchon:
>   - Korean Central News Agency, ¡°Remains of Patriots Discovered,¡± Pyongyang,
> June 23, 2007.
>   - Korean Central News Agency, ¡°Meetings Held to Vow Revenge,¡± Pyongyang,
> June 25, 2004.
>   - The U.S. Imperialists Started the Korean War (Pyongyang: Foreign Languages
> Publishing House, 1977), pp. 230-233.
>   - M.R. Gupta. Glimpses of Land of Morning Calm. Pyongyang: Foreign Languages
> Publishing House, 1990, p.117.
>   - George Katsiaficas, ¡°North Korea Holds a Peace Conference¡± Korean
> Quarterly, Fall 2003 vol. 7 no.1.
>   It might also be worth noting as background that in the pre-war period on
> March 15, 1947, Kim Il Sung criticized Sinchon¡¯s ¡°anti-Party¡± elements; he
> had also denounced anti-regime violence in Hwanghae on Feb. 21, 1948 and
> August 26, 1949. 
>   To contextualize things a bit, the U.S. National Archives in College Park,
> Maryland of course has extensive holdings on the broader topic of war crimes
> in Korea and about massacres carried out by retreating Korean People¡¯s Army
> forces in northern cities like Hamhung.  See National Archives and Records
> Administration, Record Group 153, Records of the Judge Advocate General, Box
> 891 forward.  The U.S. investigated a total of 1848 allegations of North
> Korean War crimes and these take up about 900 boxes in the National Archives.
> I have scans of a number of these documents and photographs, and anticipate
> posting some on my website www.adamcathcart.com at some point in the coming
> months.  
>   Finally, there are few more sources you may find useful as reference
> material:
>   Tucker, Spencer, ed.  Encyclopedia of the Korean War: A Political, Social,
> and Military History, the following entries:
>               - Wesolick, Duane L.  ¡°Atrocities,¡± Vol. 1, pp. 56-58.
>               - Esposito, Matthew D.  ¡°War Crimes Trials,¡± Vol. II, pp.
> 733-734. 
>   Phillip D. Chinnery, Korean Atrocity! Forgotten War Crimes, 1950-1953 (Naval
> Institute Press, 2001).
>   Ra Jong-yil, ¡°Governing North Korea: Some Afterthoughts on the Autumn of
> 1950,¡± Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 40, No. 5 (July 2005) 521-546,
> especially page 543.
>   As war crimes in Korea are an area of great interest, I would be very happy
> to hear from other list members regarding further suggestions for research or
> critiques of the North's Sinchon narrative.
> Adam Cathcart, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor of History
> Pacific Lutheran University
> 1010 122nd St. S
> Tacoma, WA 98447
> (office) 253.535.7640
> (mobile) 330.860.0480
> adamcathcart at yahoo.com
> cathcaaj at plu.edu
> www.adamcathcart.com
> ---------------------------------
> Never miss a thing.   Make Yahoo your homepage.

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