Korean Atrocity! Forgotten War Crimes, 1950-1953

Article excerpt

Korean Atrocity! Forgotten War Crimes, 19501953 by Philip D. Chinnery. Naval Institute Press (http://www.usni.org), 2062 Generals Highway, Annapolis, Maryland 21401, 2001, 296 pages, $34.95.

Korean Atrocity! by British aviation writer Philip Chinnery focuses on communist murder and mistreatment of captured United Nations (UN) troops (and some civilians) during the Korean War. Using recently declassified materials collected for war-crimes purposes and numerous memoirs, he details the topic in gory detail, complete with photos. Much of the story is well known. Early in the war, UN forces found bodies of bound and frequently mutilated American and Korean prisoners. More were killed in marches to the prison camps, where others were murdered, and many more died from maltreatment. Approximately 38 percent of all US prisoners died in the Korean War, compared to about 1 percent held by the Germans and about 50 percent by the Japanese during World War II. Certainly, a number of the 8,000 Americans listed as missing in action in Korea suffered the same fate.

Does Chinnery uncover anything new? From the war-crimes materials, he found that cases involving North Korean troops outnumbered those involving Chinese troops by a ratio of more than two to one. This discovery reinforces the conventional view of the crueler Korean and more calculated Chinese treatment of prisoners. He states that captured communists (418) suspected of war crimes were included in the general prisoner-ofwar (POW) exchange at the conclusion of the war because decision makers believed that to hold them might jeopardize the POW swap. Chinnery deals with some little-known information on a related subject-the misconduct of American prisoners. Seldom discussed for obvious reasons, this situation involved 13 percent of Army prisoners. …