The Korea Herald


U.S. military killed 5,000 civilians during war

By 이지윤

Published : Jan. 4, 2011 - 18:27

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S. Korean panel wraps up investigation

At least 5,000 civilians were killed by the U.S. military during the Korean War, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission found Tuesday.

According to the truth panel, which was established in 2005 to reinvestigate past atrocities, a total of 4,091 civilian casualties were caused by the U.S. military in the first three months of the war, before the reclaim of Seoul in September 1950.

In the 141 cases confirmed, 3,608 were killed by aerial bombardment.

After the allied forces recaptured Seoul, some 1,200 people were killed in 31 cases involving the U.S. Army until the war’s end in 1953, the committee said.

It was the first time that a state-run organization has inspected civilian deaths by the U.S. military during the Korean War and publicized the estimated number.

Of the victims, 1,218 were in vulnerable groups, including 541 women, 223 children under 10 and 228 people older than 50.

Given that 21 out of 31 cases occurred in January and February in 1951 after the recapture of Seoul, the panel said, the deaths could be the victims of operations that targeted civilians or aimed to reduce areas to ashes.

One of the cases was the bombardment of Hongcheon, Gangwon Province, in which U.S. aircraft dropped bombs on 3,000 South Korean refugees, assuming that communist soldiers were hiding among them. The panel said hundreds of people died from the attack.

During the attacks, many of the victims were found to have been doing daily activities in their residential areas or fleeing the fighting. There were also some cases in which whole families ware massacred.

“The attacks may have been carried out in order to bombard villages suspected of being used as shelters for the communist soldiers and to cut the supply lines of Chinese troops,” the investigation said.

“Considering that the deaths were investigated based on the reports from bereaved family members, the actual number could be far more,” said an official of the panel.

The truth panel ended its three-year investigation on Dec. 31 last year, completing its inspection on 11,175 cases.

By Lee Ji-yoon (