The Truth About the Sinchun Massacre
Who killed the 35,383 residents of the Sinchun County, Hwanghae Province, North Korea?
"According to the data released then, in the brief period of temporary occupation of the northern part of our Republic, the US troops killed, in such a brutal way, hundreds of thousands of innocent inhabitants: 15,000 in Pyongyang, 35,380 in Sinchon County equivalent to one fourth of its population, 19,072 in Anak County, 5,545 in Songhwa County, 13,000 in Unryul County, 5,290 in Pyongsan County, 6,000 in Haeju City, 1,511 in Nanipo City and etc." - Li Hyong Chol, DPRK Ambassador and Permanent Representative
In October of 1950, a major massacre of civilians took place in the Sinchun County. Some 35,000 residents, more than one in four, were murdered in cold blood and today, a museum in Sinchun displays grizzly evidence of the massacre for all to see. Visitors are reminded of the horrible war crimes committed by the American GIs that compare in barbarity with Hitler's Nazi Holocaust.
Photo: Some victims were buried in mass graves. Others were cremated or buried in wells and mines.
One may dispute the number of the victims but all agree that a crime of major magnitude had occurred in Sinchun during the brief occupation of the region by the US Army. Did US troops commit these crimes in Sinchun as claimed by Pyongyang?
The US Army invaded North Korea and occupied Sinchun on October 17, 1950 and retreated from the region on December 7, 1950. Thus, Sinchun was under US occupation for 52 days, during which 35,382 civilians in the region were murdered. Remains of the victims are still being uncovered from where the murderers hid them more than 50 years ago.
Who killed those unarmed children, women and elderly North Koreans?
The truth of the matter is that anti-Communist North Koreans as well as Communists committed the crimes. As the American forces retook Seoul and crossed the 38th Parallel in October 1950, the Communists began to murder the "enemies" of the people in Sinchon - former landlords, wealthy merchants, right-wing intelligentsia and anyone suspected of opposing the Communist regime.
Photo: US troops shooting children and women in Sinchun.
On October 13, 1950 - 4 days before the American troops arrived, a group of anti-Communists mounted an armed insurrection and took over Sinchun. Key Communists leaders escaped but the rank of file of the Communist Party were left behind at the mercy of the insurrectionists, who were allowed to run wild by the US occupation force. Communists, sympathizers and just about anyone who had worked in a government office were picked up and executed without any trial or mercy.
Anti-Communist college and high-school kids, armed to the teeth with burp guns, grenades, Maxim machines and mortars abandoned by the retreating People's Army, went into a killing frenzy in Sinchun. Teachers, classmates, neighbors and even family members and relatives accused of being Red were killed - no questions asked. These killing occurred righ under the nose of the US occupiers of Sinchun, the 19th Regiment of the 24th US Infantry Division.
Photo: A bomb shelter into which the victims were herded in groups of 50 or so and then fire-bombed to death.
The US archives record this massacre as the October 13 "Manseh Incident" under the category of "Civil Affairs". The archives describe in some detail who murdered whom and where. On October 14th, a US Army recon plane flew over Sinchun and took note of the turmoil going on there. A huge crowd of Koreans waved white flags, shouting 'manseh (hurrah)' at the startled pilot. The Americans dropped a note promising to send in troops soon. Two days later, elements of the 3rd battalion of the 19th Regiment arrived at Sinchon.
The Americans were accompanied by a company of Rhee Synman's secret police headed by Kim San Ju. Kim took command of the anti-Communist insurgents and organized a mass hunt and extermination of 'Communists'. Hundreds were shot and pushed into a canal that carried the corpse into the Yellow Sea. The killers used flame-throwers and incendiary grenades to kill their victims herded into caves, warehouses, temples and shelters. Witnesses assert that American GIs under a Lt. Harrison supervised the killings by Kim San Ju's death squads.
The 3rd BN that occupied Sinchun had suffered heavy losses in the Nakdong battle, and its soldiers and officers had no liking for the Korean Communists; to them all North Koreans were communists to be killed. So said an American veteran interviewed by MBC. Curiously, the roster of the 3rd BN in the time frame shows no Lt. Harrison. It is probable that "Lt. Harrison" was with the US CIC unit attached to Kim San Ju's group as part of the US 8th Army Civil Affairs and that "Lt. Harrison' was a cover name.
As the fortune of war turned sour again with the intervention of the Chinese Volunteers Army, the killings intensified in Sinchun. The survivors of the pogrom fleeing the regions were bombed and strafed by US planes, and thousands died on the road to Seoul. Furthermore, those who remained in Sinchun became targets of Communist reprisals. The table got turned and anti-Communists were executed by the hundreds.
Fully one quarter of the Sinchun people were killed. It would be impossible to determine how many were killed by the Communists, by the anti-Communist Koreans and by American troops. Few of the guilty survive today. Commander Kim San Ju was executed by Rhee for opposing him in an election. Only a handful remains of the members of 3rd battalion of the US 24th Infantry Division. Some of the anti-Communists Koreans managed to escape to Seoul and some of them are still alive and freely admit to the killings - not quite repentant of their crimes against humanity, against their own brothers and sisters.
Some argue that since the US was in charge of the
occupied regions of North Korea, it was responsible for the crimes committed in
Sinchun and other regions by Rhee's death squads.