Military Historical Library
"The War in Korea 1950-1953"
Chief Editor N. L. Volkovskiy
Editor I. V. Petrova
OOO Izdatel'stvo Poligon, Saint Petersburg 2000;928 pp.
Chapter 6. Political Work in the Forces
1. Organization of Political Work in the Forces of the Korean Peoples ' Army
and the Chinese Volunteers
One of the factors guaranteeing the victory of the KPA and CPV was their high morale spirit and patriotism. All of this stemmed from the political work carried out in the forces. It was the basis upon which the harmonious goals of the war were explained to personnel, soldiers and officers were inspired to have hatred and contempt for the enemy, ideological work was related to the actual combat missions of the forces, study was resented on the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy side, his propaganda was exposed, and hatred of the enemy was instilled.
These and other measures played a significant role in maintaining combat capability and steadfastness in units and subunits. While studying the fact that many commanders and cultural enlightenment workers had no experience with conducting political work in a combat situation, groups were created at division level from the leadership of the workers of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party and the Cultural Enlightenment Directorate of the Ministry of National Defense. These groups assisted the commander in carrying out combat tasks, created societal order in the rear area of advancing forces, taught structure to local residents and explained to them the goals and missions of the struggle, and incited the population to restore and repair lines of communication, communications lines, extinguish fires, provide assistance to the rear services organs of the army in maintaining continuous supply of ammunition, fuel, and provisions to the forces while evacuating the wounded and maintaining order along the lines of communication, informing the Central Committee of the Party and the Ministry of National Defense on the course of combat operations and the political-morale condition of the army and the population.
A great deal of significance came from the work to create cadres of cultural enlightenment workers at the company level, selecting and assigning agitators in subunits, and organizing the apparatus to conduct political work among enemy troops and prisoners of war.
Work in agitation of the masses was widely deployed. Under conditions of a rapid offensive the most widely disseminated forms of this work were meetings, military-political information and interviews, as well as those means like the press, radio, and vocal agitation put out by the cultural enlightenment brigades.
Meetings had a great mobilizing significance, as they were held prior to the march, when loading railway wagons, in assembly areas, prior to occupying the starting points, and after combat.
Drawing from those situations, meetings were held in companies, battalions and on occasion regiments. At these meetings the commanders of subunits and units and their deputies for cultural enlightenment work held forth. In their speeches they gave the combat mission to their personnel and explained what would improve if it were completed. A large role was played by bringing soldiers into the meeting. Using short speeches they painted a picture of their recent lives - the heavy state of affairs under the Japanese occupiers and read letters from their parents and friends living in the southern pan of Korea. Local residents also came before the soldiers and officers at the meetings pointing out the oppression and humiliation suffered from the South Korean powers and American forces. Meetings were widely held at the gravesites of dead warriors and in the ashes of settlements destroyed by the enemy.
One of the important forms of political work among the personnel of operational units of the KPA was military-political information Commanders and cultural enlightenment organ workers provided this information about important events going on in the rear areas of the country directly to the soldiers. Military-political information was provided at company and battery level, and built upon materials on the self-sacrificing work of the people of the DPRK, combat success of formations, units and subunits of the KPA, and provided examples of the heroic valor of its soldiers, sergeants and officers of the Peoples' Army.
A great deal of significance was given to information on the status of enemy forces. Information on the destruction suffered by the enemy, about Singman Rhee and American soldiers fleeing in panic, of the bestiality and destruction inflicted along the path of their withdrawal, and the enemy's understanding of the offensive spirit of the fighters of the Peoples' Army all gave them new strength in their fight against the enemy.
A major role in instilling this offensive spirit into the political work with the soldiers was played by agitators in the platoons, squads, sections, crews and reconnaissance groups. In just a short period of time thousands of army agitators were created in operational units and formations. Along with political discussions the agitators assisted the officers and sergeants in providing combat missions to the soldiers, explaining various combat signals to them, learning the dangers posed by enemy aircraft and tanks, and discussed tactics and methods taken by enemy soldiers and subunits. At the moment of the offensive the agitators were in the first ranks of the attackers. They cried for the soldiers to move forward to seize the designated line, and once the line was crossed waved the national flag of the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea. Each agitator carried these flags along with newspapers and leaflets. They were prepared from material, banners, and paper and were small in size, so that they would not hinder the movement of the soldiers. The agitators assisted the commanders to identify soldiers who distinguished themselves in combat, wrote congratulatory letters to their parents, and published combat lists.
During the course of combat operations propaganda and agitation expanded to great size: leaflets, posters, information, articles, and correspondence. Thus, for example, the Cultural Enlightenment Directorate of the Ministry of National Defense published a huge number of leaflets addressed to the personnel of the formations and units of the KPA on these subjects: "Do not dislodge the enemy, surround and destroy him with decisive operations and skillful maneuvers!" "Skillfully repulse the enemy tanks. To the seasoned warrior a tank is no threat!" "Think about protection from enemy aviation!" "Be vigilant and alert! Remember that the enemy is perfidious and without mercy!" "Study how to use terrain and quickly camouflage yourselves!" Posters were published for machine gunners, antitank fighters, signalmen, drivers, driver-mechanics, sappers, and scouts. All of these materials were published based on experience acquired in combat, addressed shortcomings, and played an important role in increasing the combat mastery of the army.
In July and August 1950 the Presidium of the Supreme Peoples' Assembly of the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea created the highest award for heroism and valor in combat - the rank of Hero of the DPRK, brought out new orders and medals of the Republic, and approved the "Status on Guards Units and Formations" and a resolution on the creation of a uniform chest badge to indicate combat wounded.
The first ones to be designated Heroes of the DPRK were tanker Kang Te Ki of the 105th Tank Division, who planted the flag of the DPRK on the Singman Rhee government National Assembly building in Seoul; naval PT boat detachment commander Kim Ku Ok, who fought an unequal battle with two enemy destroyers; and pilot Kim Gi Ok, who in the first days of the war shot down 6 enemy aircraft; also the award was given to the commanders of a number of formations and units of the KPA. Thousands of soldiers, sergeants and officers were decorated with orders and medals of the Republic.
With the acceptance of the status of Guards units and formations the KPA started a fight for the right to carry the Guards banner. The first units to receive it were the 3rd, 4th, and 6th Infantry Divisions and the 11th Antiaircraft Artillery Regiment.
The existence of Guards units and formations were great events in the combat activities of the army. Commanders and cultural enlightenment organs organized the study, edification and dissemination of the experiences of the Guardsmen. In one of the Cultural Enlightenment Directorate leaflets they wrote: "The Guardsmen considered that the attacks on the enemy positions, as is correct, should come with an offensive during the hours of darkness or at dawn. The enemy fought against the night attack, but his technology, in which he placed so much faith, could not provide the necessary level of effectiveness in the dark, as the effects of aviation under nighttime conditions are strictly limited.
"In their offensive the Guardsmen strove to get into immediate contact with the enemy, skillfully making use of their approach and seizures, deeply penetrating into the depths of his defenses, all of which made his use of aviation very difficult.
"Artillery, tanks and other technology from which the Guardsmen not only effectively concealed in daylight, but managed to bunker in, could not be moved by force or time.
"The Guardsmen studied how to intercept the enemy's established use of signals to call for aircraft over the radio. By making use of that, the Guardsmen were seldom spotted by the enemy's aviation.
"Study how to fight like the Guardsmen!"
In early August 1950 the Americans began to make wide use of tanks across the front. The first time they came up against the large-scale use of tanks in combat, and having no experience in how to deal with them, many KPA soldiers fell into confusion. Individual soldiers managed to form an ineffective means of conducting the fight of infantry against tanks.
Commanders and cultural enlightenment organs in the army organized the study of methods and measures to combat tanks, based on those of Soviet soldiers during the Great Patriotic War. Subunits set up narrow firing pits with view slits. Many soldiers began to hunt tanks with antitank rifles and signal flares. The experience of skilled hunters of enemy hunters was widely popularized. Frequently they themselves conducted discussions on methods and measures to destroy enemy technology. All of the army found out about the heroic valor of Private Son Chin Ku, who used grenades to wipe out two American tanks and up to 20 infantry tank riders, and the glorious actions of a group of tank hunters consisting of Go Kwan II, Pak Ben Sung, and Go Yang Kwan, who fought an unequal battle with five enemy tanks and their infantry tank riders. This group of daredevils earned the nickname of the "Korean Panfilovs."
Propaganda on the combat success of units and formations and the popularization of soldiers who distinguished themselves in combat had an important place in the political work of commanders and cultural enlightenment organs among the troops of the KPA.
At regular intervals, it was essential that a new generation of forces had to move forward to the army at the front. Reserves for combat units and formations were created under surprisingly difficult conditions and in a maximal short period of time. Preparing a new company to march was occasionally limited to just 10-15 days.
The Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party gave an order to the Cultural Enlightenment Directorate organs in the army to concentrate their attention on the in-depth study of the new generation, provide assistance to commanders of reserve units in rapidly their young soldiers in military affairs, and create conditions for training that were as close to combat situations as possible. Together with this they organized political exercises, political information, discussions and readings for the reserve units. In all this work particular attention was paid to the thorough clarification of military rules and combat regulations. For work with the young generation the cultural enlightenment organs brought in a large number of soldiers from the front who had previously been knocked out of combat by wounds received. These combat participants imparted their combat experience to the young, gave them practical information on the skills of camouflage, bunkering in, and all other things that a soldier had to know in combat.
Political work saw a great deal of its mobilization and organizational effort spent upon carrying out combat missions and training the reserves. But even during the first stage of the war there were serious shortcomings in this work. The Cultural Enlightenment Directorate of the Ministry of National Defense had not ensured that it placed a significant amount of influence stressing combat activities to the troops, and experience showed political work on combat situations turned out to be weak. Among the officers in a significant number of units was the position that they would have a quick and easy victory over the enemy.
All of this required a reorientation and improvement of the work of cultural enlightenment organs, and an increase in the amount of responsibility they had to take for carrying out combat missions. With this goal, in July 1950 the Cabinet of Ministers of the DPRK decided to base the Cultural Enlightenment Directorate at the front, where it could head up the task of political educational work for all operational forces. Simultaneously with this they created a Cultural Enlightenment Section at Army level.
A large role in the improvement of political work among personnel was played by the publication of a huge number of brochures titled "Cultural Enlightenment Work in Offensive Combat" which laid out the following questions: the characteristics of modern offensive combat and the significance of the morale factor in combat; the significance of cultural enlightenment work in instilling steadfast morale in troops; tasks, forms and methods of cultural enlightenment work in a combat situation; cultural enlightenment work on the march; cultural enlightenment work at the starting position; political support for the attack and combat in the depths of the enemy defense, organization of cultural education work during the period of strengthening the achieved success and assessing the results of the offensive.
In the newspapers Korean Peoples'Army and Agitator's Notebook materials were regularly published which aided the cultural enlightenment worker. It published letters and articles by deputy commanders for cultural enlightenment work, agitators, and active army organizations of the Union of Democratic Youth (UDY).
These measures played an important role in further improvement of the maintenance, forms and methods of political work in the forces of the KPA.
During the second stage of the war, when under pressure from overwhelming enemy forces the Korean Peoples' Army retreated, the role of political work underwent an unceasing growth.
Under these conditions it was necessary to support the organization of the army, increase the morale spirit of the personnel and strengthen their faith in victory, enact decisive measures to combat those who would disorganize the forces, sue for a truce or defeatists, deploy for intensive training of the reserves, bring back the rest of the troops remaining in the South, and maintain combat capability.
During the period of the withdrawal and defensive battles many operational and reserve units of the KPA suffered a significant weakening of military discipline. Analysis of this weakness showed that individual officers had not carried out some of their most important obligations, and had undervalued the significance of combat regulations in a combat situation. Their regard to carry out orders was formal, but they had a diminished view of initiative and responsibility for the combat capability of their subordinates, the condition of their weapons and combat technology.
Under these difficult conditions the functions of the cultural enlightenment organs were shown to be insufficient. The situation demanded the political workers provide solid assistance to the commanders not just in the area of education of personnel, but also in carrying out combat orders and decisively strengthening discipline and order in the forces. On 2 October 1950 the Political Council of the Korean Workers' Party made a decision, subsequently followed by the Presidium of the Supreme Peoples' Assembly of the DPKR publishing an order concerning the reorganization of the cultural enlightenment organs of the KPA and its political organs.
On 7 October the Ministry of National Defense formed the Main Political Directorate of the KPA on the basis of the former Cultural Enlightenment Directorate, which worked with the identical section of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party. Simultaneously u ith this commensurate political sections were formed at army, division, military training establishment, and fleet levels. In place of the deputy unit and subunit commanders for cultural enlightenment work they instituted the position of deputy commanders for political units. During this period military councils were created at army level, and one of the main responsibilities of these organs was the education and maintenance of high levels of military discipline and order in the forces.
The Political Council of the Korean Workers' Party reached a decision in October 1950 to create Korean Workers' Party organizations within the KPA. The Main Political Directorate developed a "Position on Korean Workers' Party Organizations in the KPA" which determined the missions, organizational structure of the army Party organizations and the order of operation. In accordance with the position, battalions created their initial Party organizations, companies (batteries) Party organization subunits, and regiments established Party committees. At the unit and subunit level the Korean Workers' Party organizations were headed by the deputy commander for political units, and in formations the political organs.
The creation of political organs and Korean Workers' Party organizations led to a quantum improvement in all organizational-political and agitation-propaganda work in the army. Storm (shock) groups were created from members of the Korean Workers' Party and the UDY who skillfully used active operations to inflict great injury upon the enemy and frequently blockaded leading enemy units, giving their own forces the ability to organize their actions and withdraw to the north. The political workers and Party men who were most active found themselves in the most responsible sectors of combat operations where they themselves organized and carried out political work in the regiments, battalions and companies.
Along with morale-political effects measures the political organs assisted commanders when necessary in corresponding compulsive measures. Along the withdrawal routes the army set up blocking posts and detachments. These were in charge of the most dedicated and strong-willed commanders, political workers and soldiers. Deserters, truce seekers, panickers, and provocateurs were severely punished, including being just shot on site.
With a goal of strengthening troop discipline and increasing combat capability, a number of organizational and agitation-propaganda measures were taken. Every unit received a combat banner and personnel took combat oaths to it. Those soldiers, sergeants and officers who distinguished themselves in combat, especially those among the wounded, were decorated in accordance with established order. The awardees received distinguishing marks. Distinguishing marks were also created for command and leadership personnel. Disciplinary regulations for soldiers, sergeants and officers were published, and according to these they would receive assessments signed by officers and generals.
In agitation-propaganda work with the service members of the KPA, special attention was paid to concentrating on explaining all of the military oaths and regulations. These questions were covered in subjects related to political information, political knowledge, discussions, and reports.
After action reports were created in divisions, and in units personnel assemblies, assemblies of members of the Korean Workers' Party, and members of the UDY, where they studied the status of military discipline and tasks to strengthen it.
In a heavy situation like that which the KPA found itself during the second stage of the war, the Americans made wide use of provocation, exchanges, promises, threats and other measures of psychological effects against the personnel of the KPA. They dropped leaflets, inserted specially trained agents, and bribed the unreliable. The basic task of American propaganda at this time was to strive to create the appearance of the complete destruction of the Korean Peoples' Army, the lack of personnel reserves, provisions, weapons, and fuel in the KPA, as well as the crushing power of American aviation.
In its oral and written propaganda the Americans endeavored to show the KPA the relative international isolation of the DPRK. Actual materials show that the peace- loving forces of the world headed by the Soviet Union stood on the side of the Korean people, providing them assistance and morale support. Broad dissemination was made of the facts of the struggle of the Soviet delegation at the UN to fight for the rights of the DPRK.
Political work in the forces remaining in the enemy's rear area was focused upon retaining combat capability, organization, discipline, and the stamina of the personnel. Special attention was paid to possible instances of self-conducted retreat, retaining weapons and combat technology, the economic expenditure of ammunition and provisions, and the rapid capture and use of enemy weapons.
Commanders, political organs, Party organizations and UDY organizations carried out a large amount of political work with the local population in the enemy's rear area. The motto in the forces was this: "Each service member must become an agitator among the local population." Units created agitation collectives, published newspapers, and printed leaflets and posters. The South Korean population was called upon to enter into the KPA and partisan detachments, and carry out sabotage measures against South Korean powers and American forces. Agitation collectives in many cases had brigades of independent artists and groups of army artists. The KPA forces severely suppressed the slightest attempts at murder or worsening relations with the local population.
From the start of the thirds stage of the war, e.g. from the moment that the Chinese Volunteers entered the war, the question of aid from the Chinese people to the Korean people was widely disseminated in discussions, political information, lectures, reports, and in the press, leaflets and posters. Newspapers regularly published information on the amount of material assistance to Korea from China and that the Chinese nation had accepted tens of thousands of Korean children to educate and provide complete material support. This moment had a tremendous significance. This led the soldiers of the KPA to not only have faith in their victory, but also that their families were not alone in a difficult time as they would receive the necessary help and support.
In educational work among the Chinese Volunteers the fact was widely cited that detachments of Korean Volunteers had also participated in combat with the Peoples' Liberation Army against the Japanese forces.
Joint meetings and sessions were held between representatives of the Korean Peoples' Army and the Chinese Volunteers. These meetings brought the soldiers of the armies into even closer friendship. For their constant interaction and exchange of information the Main Political Directorate of the KPA placed groups of its own permanent representatives in CPV units and formations, who received the name "Special Detachments. "
During the offensive battles of late 1950 and early 1951 the KPA forces, liberating their own soil, collected facts on the killings and assaults carried out by the enemy. At this time loyal oaths and loyal observations were widely used in the forces. Soldiers, sergeants and officers executed by the enemy were deemed patriots, and as they saw the ashes and rubble of settlements before their own eyes their comrades swore these oaths to mercilessly avenge them on the enemy; many of the recited their own count of enemy soldiers, firing positions and technology destroyed. In a combat situation transmissions were sent up the chain of short items on success by subunits and individual soldiers, local mottoes were created, and lightning-leaflets were published. In the work to instill hatred for the enemy, wide use was made of information coming from the Commission of the Central Committee of the Unified Democratic Fatherland Front of Korea in uncovering the evil actions of the American forces and the Singman Lee army. This information was widely published in the army press, but the sharpest points on these actions were published in leaflets and on posters.
The instance of the use of bacteriological weapons by the enemy in 1952 inspired an even greater will in the resistance of the Korean people and their army. These facts of propaganda were widely used by the KPA to instill hatred of the enemy. In reports, discussions, and printed material personnel were told of international agreements and conventions that forbade the use of bacteriological and chemical weapons, as well as conducted discussions and consultations on measures of individual protection from bacteria.
Mass air raids by the Americans at low altitude created the possibility of the effective use of small arms against aircraft. Drawing on the experiences of subunits that had shot down several aircraft with machine guns and rifles, on 29 December 1950 the Supreme Commander of the KPA published a directive on the creation of detachments within units and formations for combating enemy aircraft using infantry weapons.
During January and the first half of February 1951 the personnel for these detachments were selected and trained. By the end of February there were 298 of these detachments in the army. By November, the numbers had risen to 376 detachments with a total of 6,918 personnel. Many of these hunting detachments had achieved a score of several aircraft shot down. Outstanding results were achieved, for example, by the hunting detachment commanded by Lieutenant Lee Kin Do. Between March and September 1951 the riflemen from his detachment shot down 7 enemy aircraft. Combat work by the hunting detachments was simplified by the conditions of the activities of the KPA ground forces and especially the work of truck transports.
A large role in fixing counter-aircraft combat in the forces was played by the hunting detachments.
Another vital function in the army was the movement to save severely wounded soldiers. Soldiers gave their blood, fought to economize and also save medicine and surgical supplies.
In their measures to eject the enemy from the territory of the DPRK, the KPA paid more and more attention to the questions of communications with the civilian population, the mobilization of their help to support the front, and the restoration of their normal lives in those areas which had been liberated. In accordance with an order from the Supreme Commander in regard to political organ personnel, sections were set aside to work among the population. Along with this organized work, such as the restoration of organs of local power, establishment of order in the settlements, accounting for government property, setting up markets and other things, the political organs of the KPA carried out mass political work among the population.
To strengthen the liaison between the army and the population, practice was made of inserting a delegation of service members into the settlements, enterprises, and to invite civilian delegations to come to military units. During planting work in the spring of 1951 a large number of soldiers from rear services units were allocated to assist the peasants.
Political organs spent a considerable amount of work among the civilian population in organizing the fight against enemy espionage and various types of diversionary activities. In order to create advantageous propaganda among the population on measures to combat epidemic illnesses, special detachments to localize infected areas were created; the organization of prophylactic inoculations against bacteriological diversions by American forces meant that they found no success in relation to the civilian population.
Under the conditions of the fourth stage of the war the task of political support was to create an unflinching defense in the coastal and central sectors of the front.
In reports, discussions, political information, the army press, leaflets and posters for the soldiers, weekly papers and combat leaflets there was a daily clarification of the questions related to the maintenance of constant combat readiness, an unflinching defense, increased vigilance and combat mastery. Units and subunits systematically held assemblies and meetings with weapons masters and soldiers. The best soldiers were brought out in front of the rest of the personnel to tell about their combat experience, conduct exercises with the young soldiers, and provide assistance to the command in training outstanding crews and subunits.
Political work in the forces of the Chinese Volunteers. The primary effort in educational work in the Chinese Peoples' Volunteers was concentrated at the company level. The central figure in education the soldiers was the company political leader or politruk. In a combat situation the company politruks were considered, as is correct, to be the most authoritative soldiers or junior commanders, and more than once demonstrated their personal valor in combat. The company politruks knew every soldier of the subunit well, maintained communications with his parents in the rear and told them of his heroism and courage, and paid a great deal of attention to the development of personal initiative on the battlefield by not waiting on insignificant items and encouraged using subjects, measures and means which were accessible to the company; they drew up a list of soldiers who had distinguished themselves, wrote letters of congratulations to their parents, etc. It follows to stress that the questions of developing personal initiative in the CPV forces received a great deal of attention. There were cases of a soldier lacking initiative, a complete lack of military bearing, the mindless independent search for a way out of a difficult situation, and a weakness for frequent skipping of Party meetings and assemblies of the New Democratic Union of Youth.
Personal initiative and the combat activity of the Chinese Volunteers was high. >From that a broad framework of the movement to display valor and overcome adversity was born and accepted. This movement had a tremendous amount of significance in the development of a soldier in his tactical bearing, combat mastery, instilling steadfastness in him and the thoughts on how to overcome adversity in his combat life, and mass heroism.
The entire system of political work on the consciousness of the Chinese Volunteers was to inculcate them with the understanding that it was impossible to establish a position without an order from the commander, to have faith in that commander, be prepared for self-sacrifice, to sense when to provide aid, and to love one's company. The amount of activity on this type of work was huge. In 1952, under the daily stress of combat several companies of the 12th, 15th and 38th Army Corps took losses of up to 90% in personnel, but ignoring that, the remaining 15-20 soldiers in the companies still managed to hold on to their company strong points. Frequently it turned out that American subunits were above and surrounding the tunnels of Chinese Volunteer defenders, but they could not get the Chinese out. Moreover, they took heavy losses from the skillful night probes of the Chinese soldiers. Enemy combat documents repeatedly stressed that if even one Chinese remained alive the defense would be maintained. They stressed several instances of repeating the valor of Aleksandr Matrosov. In the battles north of Kumwua (October - November 1952) the valor of Matrosov was repeated by warriors Sun Jiangyuan, Huang Svugwang, Su Shoayung, and others.
In their lives and combat activities the forces introduced into practice wide exposition of the combat exploits of common soldiers before a general assembly of the company or platoon members. As a result of this exposition at the assembly each soldier had his combat actions on the battlefield assessed and could consider himself as an Outstanding Soldier 3rd, 2nd, or 1st Class.
Wide dissemination was made of combat slogans, which served to motivate personnel at the most stressful moment of combat. The most common ones were these: "We fight to the end, We fight for victory!" "By fighting for Korea we are protecting the Motherland!" "Avenge the Korean People!" and others. But even with these general slogans, each company and even each platoon would develop their own based on actual events: "We avenge the death of our comrade (followed by the name of a deceased soldier or commander)" "Your position is not protected by numbers, but by skill and steadfastness!" The wounded used this one to call out to their fellow soldiers: "Comrades, avenge yourselves on the enemy for my blood!" In the defense slogans were written on paper, cardboard, or cloth and placed in a spot where they could be seen in front of the subunit, but in the offense and on the move they were carried by the best soldiers on the bayonets of their rifles.
For agitation-propaganda work, tried and true methods were used: meetings, discussions, and political information. The printed word was also widely used. Understanding that there were illiterate soldiers, the printed word reached most of the unit via collective readings. It is interesting that political, military and artistic literature were all propagandized. Since there was a shortage of books and not everyone could read them, this or that book was handed to the most literate soldier who then read its chapters to the rest of the assembled soldiers, but the most interesting spots were read out as sayings. The most characteristic sentences and passages, especially those that related to combat life, were written down and given to soldiers by commanders as a reminder or for them to learn by heart.
Thus, for example, the book "Battle and the Fearless," which was widely popular in the CPV forces, was written at the Korean front in 1952. This book included the following excerpts written in it: "Don't wait, but go out and seek to find the enemy. Assess and fight him." "Victory is made before the battle." "Hard in training, easy in battle." "A soldier must not sit and await death. He must bring it to the enemy." "It's good not everything is living in war. We must overcome our burdens, fight with the cold, with weariness, with loneliness - for those are also battles." "A soldier must always be thinking. A soldier must fight with his mind." "You can kill one with a bayonet, but with the mind you can kill thousands." "If you want to live, prepare to die." "Risk is a fortunate thing, for without risk there is no fortune." "Each must think how to prepare his own food. Each of you will become a soldier if you do not have to think how to make your own bread maker." "The main obligation and the main business of a commander is to think." "The declaration of a soldier is not in words, but in deeds and fire." "To spare yourself means you will not be spared." "The soldier who is not prepared will suffer much sorrow from a golden head." "The commander must always think of the worst case." "You must fight for time, and deny it to the enemy. When the light is the longest and the shortest, the fastest and the slowest, then the thing which more than anything else must be overcome and that more than anything else must be regretted is time."
A great deal of attention was paid to providing for a normal existence and organizing cultural events for the soldiers, since it was more important, but the time and primary sources of a satisfactory existence and cultural needs of the personnel were self- motivated and made use of the internal capabilities of the forces. At every opportunity personnel cleared away an area of ground for a fire, changed shoes and clothes, prepared a brazier, gathered fuel and boiled water. Wide use was made to encourage the timely provision of food to the combat positions. Much attention was paid to providing general and personal hygiene of personnel, and tending to the wounded and the sick. In light of the shortage of medical personnel and in order to reduce the number of people who perished of wounds on the battlefield, all soldiers studied how to remove them from the battlefield, provide first aid and other functions. Thus, for example, at the start of operations north of Kumhua each soldier had prepared 8-10 methods of extraction. In order to avoid epidemic illnesses, the fight in the forward positions turned to the sources of disease - insects and vermin. In the divisions thousands of nettings were prepared as well as flyswatters, breathing protectors, and dry traps baited for catching insects and mice.
Mass cultural work for the soldiers in their free time was carried out in companies and platoons. The primary forms were these: singing, playing musical instruments, artistic pursuits, composing poetry, painting, writing a diary, etc. In operational units brigades of artists were sent in as well as independent artists collectives of enterprises, writers and poets.
Political work in the CPV forces was varied and thorough. Its basic achievement was that it was always for real and closely related to combat missions.
2. Measures Taken by the Command and Political Organs of the Korean Peoples'
Army and the Chinese Volunteers for Psychological Effects
Against the Enemy Forces
The direction, nature and primary questions of propaganda as used among the forces and civilian population was determined by the leadership of the Political Council of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party Committee on Leadership. The Committee consisted of a member of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party (chairman), the chief of the Main Political Directorate of the KPA, chief of the Intelligence Directorate of the KPA, and the deputy Minister of Internal Affairs. Practical work in the command was provided by the 7th Section of the Main Political Directorate of the KPA, which had groups working among enemy forces, and in the political directorate of the front and political sections of the armies and instructors and translators in the political sections of the divisions. All work in demoralizing enemy forces was carried out by the political organs of the KPA in close and immediate cooperation with the political organs of the Chinese Volunteers.
A great deal of effort was paid to the political edification of the enemy. The main form of edification was the political debriefing of prisoners of war. Beside that, they studied the enemy press and captured documents. Valuable observations that could be used for propaganda came from radio intercepts, observations of the enemy on the battlefield, etc.
The primary form of work among UN forces and the Singman Rhee army was printed propaganda. During the war hundreds of millions of leaflets were printed, along with a huge number of papers, brochures and other agitation-propaganda materials in English, Korean and other languages. The majority of the leaflets for the Americans, British and other soldiers and officers were terse, to the point and written in clear language without inclusion of obsessive comments and in view of the peculiarities of propaganda meant for American and British soldiers. The leaflets meant for the Singman Rhee army were profusely illustrated, printed in several colors and reflected the Korean national colors.
Many of these leaflets were published with the goal of inciting conflict within the UN forces and strengthening the anti-American tendencies. A number of leaflets were addressed to dark-skinned soldiers. Beside that, leaflets were published that stressed sentimental themes (the last letter to a mother from her son, an American soldier who had died in Korea; a letter to Truman from a father refusing to accept an award for his son that had died in Korea, etc.) The leaflets made wide use of materials published by a number of important US persons opposed to the war in Korea, official materials, newspaper and information agenc~es. Thus, for example, a multi-thousand leaflet run was printed and disseminated among American forces that provided information from the Reuters News Agency dated 7 January 1953 that noted the US Secretary of the Army had reported that since the start of the war in Korea 46,000 US soldiers had deserted.
By studying the psychology of the enemy soldiers, the political organs of the KPA and CPV were able to disseminate gift packages on various major holidays (Christmas, New Year's, the Korean Osen National Day, etc.) with a set of leaflets, clean paper sheets, letters from prisoners of war and the local population, enamel badges with the blue world insignia, cigarettes, food products, and booklets. They established an interest, for example, in the booklet format. Published in a nice binding, they held a great deal of handbook materials, a calendar of events in Korea (when and where the Americans had been), speeches from Lincoln, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and various warnings (e.g. "War is only good for those who have not experienced it" "Live and let live") bright passages from Shakespeare ("Better to have dry bread at home than roast beef abroad" "The guilty never know peace" "East or west, home is best") and others.
As a basis for propaganda for converting prisoners, the Military Committee of the DPRK published Resolution No. 90, "On the treatment of officers and soldiers of the enemy forces who voluntarily changed over to the side of the KPA and CPV."
Illustrated invitations for converting prisoners were widely disseminated in English, Korean and Chinese texts. The invitation provided four guarantees (keeping your life, prisoners of war keeping personal items, good treatment and the provision of medical assistance) as well as a series of documentary photographs of the existence and life of prisoners of war.
As for what the American and British soldiers read in the leaflets, one can examine this fact: out of 409 American and British soldiers taken prisoner in August 1951, as debriefing showed, 106 had read the leaflets; out of 420 taken in the battle for the village of Kufan-ri near Chan Pkun, 122 men had read the leaflets and several held the invitations in their hands when they gave themselves up.
The peculiarities of agitation-propaganda materials for soldiers of the South Korean army were such that many of these materials only had a minimum amount of text and the basic idea was conveyed by illustrations.
Beside leaflets and brochures, the American soldiers were also supplied with the four-page newspaper "Peace". The combination and form of the materials published were drawn from various speeches by American politicians, showed the growth of resistance by American workers and profits of monopolists in regard to the war in Korea, showed the constant opposition from all of the peace-loving people of the world to American bestiality in Korea. The paper published a letter to the American soldiers from a prisoner, a letter from a hospital, information on the status of things in the USA, described the opposition of Americans to the struggle and the tremendous losses in men and combat technology that they had suffered.
For the soldiers and officers of the Singman Rhee army they published the newspaper "For Saving the Motherland from American Imperialism," the propaganda of which took the position of protecting the national interests of the Korean people. As pure agitation, powerful and bunkered-in loudspeaker stations were used which were located long the forward edge of the defense where they could broadcast to enemy forces. For use as speakers. American, British and South Korean prisoners were used. Especially popular among the South Korean soldiers were the use of female speakers, who were service members of the KPA. The technique of having prisoners of war coming up and breaking in on the radio nets was widely used. Thus, from January to October 1951 80 prisoners of war came up on the radio, of which 55 were American officers and soldiers. The central radio of the DPRK broadcast messages from American officers and soldiers who were prisoners of war that brought responses in the USA. Newspapers and radio companies commented on these transmissions and the families of the dead sent queries to the government, Congress, etc.
The command and political organs of the KPA and CPV paid a lot of attention to political work inside prisoner of war camps. American and British prisoners of war created the "committee to fight for peace" which was allied with supporters of worldwide peace. The committee published a 10 day journal "For Truth and Peace" which printed articles on real political themes. In 1953 the military prisoners consisting of soldiers and officers from the Singman Rhee army created the "Union to Fight to Save the Motherland from American Imperialism." The chairman of the Central Committee of the Union was selected as former Singman Rhee General Son Ho Sok, who was captured in 1950. The Union carried out propaganda among prisoners of war and among soldiers and officers of the South Korean army.
Back to Index Page