Out in the Cold: Australia's involvement in the Korean War - War of words - Propaganda
- Australians in Korea
- Australian Operations
- Weapons of War
- Faces of War
- Armistice and Aftermath
War of words - Propaganda
In the Korean War both sides used paper as a weapon. The UN forces and the North Koreans and Chinese alike dropped millions of pamphlets, letters and entreaties to each other's troops, in an attempt to influence the thoughts and motivations of their enemies.
There are many examples of the manipulative and calculated way each side sought to introduce dissent and apathy among the troops of the other.
The UN Command targeted both enemy soldiers and Korean civilians.
This Psychological Warfare Sheet shows how much thought and planning went into this propaganda. The accompanying leaflet was aimed at North Korean and Chinese soldiers, with a cartoon depicting Soviet leader Joseph Stalin pushing a Chinese officer pushing a Korean soldier towards a battlefield named "Korea". It suggested that the Korean War was being driven by the Soviets.
Propaganda was also used to show that UN forces were working towards uniting Korea, while North Korean forces were under the control of outside forces - the Soviet Union and China.
Chinese/North Korean propaganda
Chinese and North Korean propaganda often emphasised solidarity among all soldiers, and portrayed UN soldiers as simple pawns in a game played by rich business men, who were profiting from the war.
Leaflets were used to incite doubt, to make UN soldiers question why they were risking their lives in a foreign civil war, while their family and loved ones waited for them at home. Leaflet drops were often timed to coincide with significant events such as Easter, Christmas, or New Year, in an attempt to make soldiers homesick and want an end to the war.
They also exploited the destruction that the war was causing for innocent civilians. The leaflet below, aimed at South Korean civilians, likens treatment by the UN to the harsh treatment suffered under the Japanese occupation of Korea.
Propaganda leaflet aimed at South Koreans - comparing treatment by Japanese with treatment by US.
Other propaganda took the form of messages left behind in areas where UN forces were expected.
Both sides issued "safe conduct" passes that were supposed to guarantee the bearer fair treatment if he surrendered to enemy forces.
Safe conduct pass issued by UN forces with a cartoon depicting Chinese/North Korean troops surrendering.
Safe conduct pass issued by Chinese forces, encouraging UN soldiers to surrender. The photo shows UN prisoners being well-treated. The words "Demand peace stop the war" were often used in North Korean/Chinese propaganda to imply that the war was unwanted by all soldiers. 3DRL 7469
Although much effort was put into propaganda on both sides, it is difficult to measure whether it had any real effect.