On October 9th, 1950, about three and half months after the Korean War started and three weeks after the landing at Inchon,United Nations forces under Gen Douglas MacArthur advanced across the 38th parallel into North Korea. On October 19th they captured Pyongyang. Disobeying Truman’s orders, MacArthur thrust deeply into the zone along the Chinese border. American paratroopers were dropped near the Chinese border, with reports of them triumphantly urinating in the Yalu River, at the Korean-Chinese border, provoking the Chinese, which had been secretly crossing the Yalu River into Korea since in mid October at night.

In November 1950, 300,000 Chinese soldiers attacked American forces along the Chongchon River. Again Americans were caught disastrously unprepared. After a fierce battle at the Changjin (Chosin) Reservoir, they were pushed southwards as South Korean forces had been pushed before towards Pusan during the previous summer. North Korea eventually restored its authority over its domain. It was a humiliating defeat for MacArthur and the Americans.

The United States thrust in the fall of 1950 forced China to bring its forces — the Chinese People's Volunteer Army — in on the northern side; these "volunteers" and the North Korean army pushed United States and South Korean forces out of North Korea within a month. Although the war lasted another two years, until the summer of 1953, the outcome of early 1951 was definitive: both a stalemate and a United States commitment to containment that accepted the de facto reality of two Koreas. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada, Library of Congress, 1990 1993]

By 1950 international recognition of the Chinese Communist government had increased considerably, but it was slowed by China's involvement in the Korean War. In 1951 the U.N. declared China to be an aggressor in Korea and sanctioned a global embargo on the shipment of arms and war materiel to China. This step foreclosed for the time being any possibility that the People's Republic might replace Nationalist China (on Taiwan) as a member of the U.N. and as a veto-holding member of the U.N. Security Council.

The Chinese halted their offensive in January 1951 after Seoul once again had fallen. At the UN, efforts were made to conclude a ceasefire without success. By the end of February, Chinese resistance collapsed south of the Han River near Seoul, and the city was recaptured by U.N. forces in mid-March and the line of war remained around the 38th parallel – where it had started until the end of the ear in 1953

MacArthur and U.N. Forces Invade North Korea (September–October 1950)

On September 27, 1950, MacArthur received top secret National Security Council Memorandum 81/1 from Truman reminding him that operations north of the 38th Parallel were authorized only if "at the time of such operation there was no entry into North Korea by major Soviet or Chinese Communist forces, no announcements of intended entry, nor a threat to counter our operations militarily". On September 30, U.S. Defense Secretary George Marshall sent an eyes-only message to MacArthur: "We want you to feel unhampered tactically and strategically to proceed north of the 38th parallel." On September 27, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent to General MacArthur a comprehensive directive to govern his future actions that stated the that the primary goal was the destruction of the KPA, followed by the unification of the Korean Peninsula under Rhee "if possible". The Joint Chiefs added that these goals were dependent on whether or not the Chinese and Soviets would intervene, and was subject to changing conditions. [Source: Wikipedia]

On September 30, Zhou Enlai warned the U.S. that China was prepared to intervene in Korea if the U.S. crossed the 38th Parallel. Zhou attempted to advise KPA commanders on how to conduct a general withdrawal by using the same tactics that allowed Chinese communist forces to carry out the Great March and successfully escape the Encirclement Campaigns of Chiang Kai Chek and the Chinese Nationalists in the 1930s. Some historians have maintained that KPA commanders did not effectively employ these tactics.

By October 1, 1950, the U.N. Command pushed the KPA northwards past the 38th Parallel; South Korean advanced after them, into North Korea. MacArthur made a statement demanding the KPA's unconditional surrender. Six days later, on October 7, with U.N. authorization, the U.N. Command forces followed the South Korean forces northwards. The X Corps landed at Wonsan (in southeastern North Korea) and Riwon (in northeastern North Korea) on October 26, but these cities had already been captured by South Korean forces. The Eighth US Army drove up western Korea and captured Pyongyang on October 19, 1950. The 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team made combat jumps on October 20, 1950 at Sunchon and Sukchon to cut the road north going to China, preventing North Korean leaders from escaping from Pyongyang; and to rescue U.S. prisoners of war.

By the end of October, 1950, U.N. forces held 135,000 KPA prisoners of war. As they neared the Sino-Korean border, the U.N. forces in the east and west were divided from each other by 80 to 161 kilometers (50–100 miles) of mountainous terrain. At this point the KPA had suffered some 200,000 men killed or wounded for a total of 335,000 casualties since the beginning of the Korean War in June 1950, and had lost 313 tanks Only 25,000 KPA soldiers managed to retreat across the 38th Parallel, as their military had entirely collapsed.

The U.N. forces on the peninsula numbered 229,722 combat troops (including 125,126 Americans and 82,786 South Koreans), 119,559 rear area troops, and 36,667 U.S. Air Force personnel. Taking advantage of the U.N. Command's strategic momentum against the communists, General MacArthur believed it necessary to extend the Korean War into China to destroy depots supplying the North Korean war effort. President Truman disagreed, and ordered caution at the Sino-Korean border.

Discussions in China About China Entering the War

After the U.S. army pushed the North Koreans back across the 38th parallel, the Chinese politburo opposed intervention and, according to a Chinese historian, "every single military leader expressed uncertainty about going to war with the Americans." Stalin dispatched his air force and told Kim Il Sung, who was ready to sue for peace, to keep fighting. It is believed that one reason Stalin encouraged Mao to send Chinese forces into Korea is that he didn’t want to send in Soviet soldiers. At the same time he cabled Mao he also made plans to remove Soviet civilians and soldiers from North Korea.

In July 1950, weeks after the war started and after the North Korean invasion had been stopped near Pusan, the Chinese began addressing how to react to a DPRK (North Korean) retreat. Recognizing that the DPRK momentum had been blunted, Chinese Foreign Minister Zhou En-lai called a national security meeting to discuss strengthening the Chinese-Korean border area. At the meeting, it was agreed that the 4th Field Army, the most experienced PLA combat force, should be moved to the border region by the end of the month. [Source: “Two Strategic Intelligence Mistakes in Korea, 1950" by P. K. Rose, CIA, Center for the Study of Intelligence, CSI Publications, Studies in Intelligence Studies, fall-winter 2001]

By August, the Communist leaders in the USSR, China, and Korea recognized that the large-scale intervention by US forces would lead to the defeat of the DPRK forces. This realization was particularly threatening to China. On August 4, at a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Politburo meeting, Mao stated that if the United States won in Korea, it would threaten China. Therefore, China had to come to the assistance of the DPRK and intervene. This decision set in motion China’s efforts on diplomatic, military, and propaganda fronts to defend itself from US aggression. While Mao’s concerns were based on survival of his Communist regime in China, certainly a shared objective with the USSR, his motivation in acting had more to do with China’s traditional concerns about its borders, and fears based upon previous US involvement with Chinese Nationalist forces, than it did with any Communist worldwide strategy.

By late August, China was moving aggressively on all fronts to demonstrate its concerns regarding a defeat of the DPRK forces and US-UN occupation of that country. On the international propaganda scene, World Culture, China’s official organ, featured an article equating a DPRK defeat as a defeat for Chinese policy. At the same time, Foreign Minister Zhou En-lai sent several diplomatic notes to the U.N. Security Council protesting alleged US air attacks on Manchuria just north of the Yalu river. Domestically, Chinese media began to focus popular attention on the vulnerability of the Yalu river border area. And, militarily, PLA forces near the border area were strengthened in an overt show of force. By late August, intelligence of the FEC (Far East Command of the U.S. military) reports estimated 246,000 PLA and 374,000 militia troops were in Manchuria near the Korean border.

Stalin told Mao the "collapse of socialism in Korea" was likely unless China came to assistance of North Korea. "If war is inevitable," Stalin cabled Mao on October 7, 1950, "let it be waged now." On October 13, Mao cabled back, "If we do not send troops and allow the enemy to press the Yalu border the arrogance of reactionaries at home and abroad will grow."

As the U.N. forces approached the Yalu River, at the Chinese-North Korean border, China warned that it would not tolerate a unification of the peninsula under U.S.-U.N. auspices. After several weeks of threats and infiltrations, "volunteers" from the Chinese People's Liberation Army entered the en masse, launching viscous attacks, forcing MacArthur into a costly chaotic, retreat down the peninsula. [Source: “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations”, Thomson Gale, 2007]

CIA Intelligence on Chinese Activities

Cryptology allowed the Allies to intercept North Korean radio transmissions between pilots and their ground commanders, helping give Allied pilots a 7 to 1 kill ratio. Codebreakers helped defenders at the Pusan perimeter by learning where and when the enemy was going to attack. This helped a relatively small unit of U.S. army soldiers hold off a much large North Korean force. Despite this a lot of good intelligence was ignored or misread

CIA intelligence reports during the first month of the conflict continued to echo the theme of Soviet control of the DPRK, but they also began to address the potential for Chinese intervention. CIA Intelligence Memorandum 301, Estimate of Soviet Intentions and Capabilities for Military Aggression stated that the Soviets had large numbers of Chinese troops, which could be used in Korea to make US involvement costly and difficult. This warning was followed on 8 July by CIA Intelligence Memorandum 302, which stated that the Soviets were responsible for the invasion, and they could use Chinese forces to intervene if DPRK forces could not stand up to U.N. forces. [Source: “Two Strategic Intelligence Mistakes in Korea, 1950" by P. K. Rose, CIA, Center for the Study of Intelligence, CSI Publications, Studies in Intelligence Studies, fall-winter 2001]

On July 28, the CIA Weekly Summary stated that 40,000 to 50,000 ethnic Korean soldiers from PLA units might soon reinforce DPRK forces. The article concluded, however, that there were no indications that the Soviets were prepared to use Chinese reinforcements. This blending of tactical warnings about possible Chinese units — first composed of ethnic Korean soldiers and then of Chinese “volunteers” — and strategic analysis that no indications existed of Soviet intentions to have the Chinese intervene, became the preferred art form for most Agency reporting through late November. It continued to be based on the perception that Soviet priorities and objectives would direct any Chinese actions.

By the end of July, tactical intelligence collection on the ground was becoming organized. Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA) detachments were collecting DPRK and Chinese communications, and US and U.N. forces were working with South Korean elements to debrief local residents and send out agents to assess DPRK positions and strength. Under the control of the CIA in Tokyo, Marine Lt. Col. “Dutch” Kramer established bases on islands off the southeast coast of Korea to train local irregular troops for missions behind enemy lines. These activities quickly began to provide valuable information. Chinese communications indicated in July that elements of a Chinese Field Army had moved to Manchuria, and that Gen. Lin Piao was the PLA commander who would intervene in Korea.

On September 8, the CIA issued Intelligence Memorandum 324, Probability of Direct Chinese Communist Intervention in Korea, which assumed that the Chinese were already providing covert assistance to the DPRK, including some replacements for combat troops. It stated, however, that overt assistance by the Chinese would require Soviet approval and a Communist willingness to risk general war. The memorandum concluded that there was no direct evidence of indications as to whether China would intervene, but it noted that reports of Chinese troop buildups in the Manchurian border area made intervention well within Chinese capabilities. It added that recent Chinese accusations of aggression against the Manchurian border area could be a setup for an imminent overt move.

This warning, one of the strongest issued by the CIA before Chinese intervention, reflected the analytic approach the Agency would stress from September to November: that the Chinese capability to intervene was present, but the political decision to do so hinged on acceptance of a worldwide conflict, which only Soviet leadership could decide. Meanwhile, General MacArthur was putting the final elements in place for another signature amphibious landing that would split the DRPK forces and force their retreat.

Intelligence reports given to MacArthur indicated the presence and capture of Chinese troops in late October and early November. Major General Willoughby, MacArthur’s intelligence chief, kept him abreast of all incoming reports of larger numbers of Chinese troop movements.

Discussions Among the American on China Entering the War

Despite evidence to the contrary, MacArthur insisted that China would not enter the war even after the United Nations forces advanced past the 38th parallel. When Truman asked him about the chances of Chinese intervention, MacArthur replied, “Very little. Had they interfered in the first or second months it would have been decisive. We are no longer fearful of their intervention.” MacArthur promised that U.S. soldiers be would be home in a month,

When the Chinese began amassing on the North Korean border and intelligence experts warned that they might attack if U.S. forces crossed the 38th parallel, MacArthur assured Truman that the Chinese were only bluffing. Truman gave him the go ahead to advance northward but insisted he not cross into a zone around the Chinese border and he make no naval or air force attacks on China. Truman warned of his orders were not followed “the greatest slaughter would be unleashed.”

In the face of warnings of Chinese activities directed towards assisting North Korea, the Pentagon instructed MacArthur to continue his advance north to destroy the DPRK armed forces as long as there was no threat of a major Chinese or Soviet intervention. These instructions were based upon a National Security Council decision made before the Inchon landing. The Secretary of State also disregarded the warnings, telling the press that Chinese intervention would be “sheer madness.” [Source: “Two Strategic Intelligence Mistakes in Korea, 1950" by P. K. Rose, CIA, Center for the Study of Intelligence, CSI Publications, Studies in Intelligence Studies, fall-winter 2001]

By the end of September 1950, the U.S. Ambassador in Moscow reported that Soviet and Chinese contacts told both the British and Dutch Ambassadors that if foreign troops cross the 38th parallel, China would intervene. This specific warning was also repeated to various journalists, and on September 29, the Associated Press in Moscow reported that both China and the Soviet Union would take a “grave view” of US forces crossing the 38th parallel. Finally, at the end of the month, in a major public policy address celebrating the first anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Zhou En-lai branded the United States as China’s worst enemy and stated that China will not allow a neighbor to be invaded. Once again, these warnings were ignored, and U.S.-U.N. forces continued to push the DRPK forces northward.

US intelligence reported that while Chinese capability was present, Chinese intent was lacking. On October 6, the U.S. Joint Intelligence Indications Committee stated that the Chinese capability to intervene had grown, but the Chinese threat to do so was questionable. That same day, the CIA Weekly Summary advised that the possibility of Soviet or Chinese intervention continued to diminish. It also restated the belief that Soviet requirements would drive any such decision. On October 12, CIA Office of Records and Estimates Paper 58-50, entitled Critical Situations in The Far East — Threat of Full Chinese Communist Intervention in Korea, concluded that, “While full-scale Chinese Communist intervention in Korea must be regarded as a continuing possibility, a consideration of all known factors leads to the conclusion that barring a Soviet decision for global war, such action is not probable in 1950.” So, both the United States and the Soviet Union saw any large-scale Chinese intervention as potentially stimulating a global war, and the U.S. understanding of the Soviet position was, indeed, sound. Internal Chinese priorities, however, continued to be discounted by Washington, which still believed that the Soviets controlled overall Communist actions worldwide.

Chinese Prepare to Invade North Korea

On October 2, Mao cabled Stalin advising that China would intervene and asked for Soviet military assistance. Three days later, the CCP Central Committee officially decided to intervene. Later, the Soviet position was delivered to the Chinese. Stalin advised Mao that the USSR could not provide the military supplies and air cover over Manchuria that Mao had requested. He also asked Mao not to engage in a large-scale offensive against US troops, because such an action might lead to a war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

In mid October, the CCP Politburo decided that China should intervene in the war even without Soviet military support. Based on this decision, it was Stalin who relented on his earlier request and agreed to provide military supplies against a Soviet loan extended to the Chinese. He also agreed to turn over Soviet aircraft in China to the PLA and to move Soviet air units into position to defend Chinese territory. Thus, the Chinese not only made a unilateral decision to intervene for nationalistic purposes, but also intimidated the Soviets into supporting them.

Through the mid-October period, numerous intelligence reports, including intercepted communications, indicated Chinese preparations for military intervention. The CIA reported that China was purchasing medical supplies abroad for future military activities. CIA reporting from Tokyo, based on information obtained from a former Chinese Nationalist officer sent into Manchuria to contact former colleagues now in the PLA, stated that the PLA had over 300,000 troops in the border area. And, on 15 October, a CIA-led irregular ROK force operating on the west coast near the Yalu river reported that Chinese troops were moving into Korea. All this information subsequently turned out to be accurate.

Chinese Move Into North Korea

On October 13 and 14, 1950, the 38th, 39th, and 40th Chinese Field Armies entered Korea. The intelligence leadership in both Washington and Tokyo did not alert either President Truman or MacArthur, who were about to meet on Wake Island to discuss the conduct of the war. At that meeting, on 15 October, MacArthur told Truman there was little chance of a large-scale Chinese intervention. And, he noted, should it occur, his air power would destroy any Chinese forces that appeared. [Source: “Two Strategic Intelligence Mistakes in Korea, 1950" by P. K. Rose, CIA, Center for the Study of Intelligence, CSI Publications, Studies in Intelligence Studies, fall-winter 2001]

The next day, the CIA Daily Summary reported that the U.S. Embassy in The Hague had been advised that Chinese troops had moved into Korea. At this point, the analytic perspective of the Agency shifted somewhat. It now agreed that there had been numerous reports on Chinese troop movements into Korea, but it continued to believe that the Chinese would not openly intervene. The Agency also abandoned the position that the Chinese had the capability to intervene but would not do so, and began to accept that the Chinese had entered Korea. But it held firm to its view that China had no intention of entering the war in any large-scale fashion.

By October 20, the Agency had developed another line of reasoning to explain the entry of Chinese forces in Korea — they were there to protect the hydroelectric plants along the Yalu river that provide power to the Manchurian industrial area. That same day, however, intelligence reports citing massive numbers of PLA troops in the border region were also disseminated. Reporting from FEC (Far East Command of the U.S. military) Intelligence stated that 400,000 PLA troops were ready to cross the Yalu. The CIA Daily Summary reported that a US military liaison officer in Hong Kong had stated that 400,000 PLA were to enter Korea. The Summary concluded, however, that the Soviets and Chinese were not ready to accept a global war, which any large-scale intervention would trigger. Apparently no one in either the FEC or the CIA thought 400,000 PLA troops a rather large number for a defensive force.

MacArthur Advances Towards the Chinese Border as Chinese Forces Enter North Korea

Washington failed to pick up the hints that China would enter the war on North Korea’s behalf. MacArthur also blundered tactically by allowing American forces to become separated by mountain ridge running down the spine of Korea during his two pronged offensive. Chinese troops infiltrated quietly into this mountain ridge and staged attacks form there against both American groups.

Robert Moskin wrote in American Heritage magazine: On Sunday, October 15, the day after MacArthur met with President Truman on Wake Island and assured him that he did not expect China to enter the war, “a regiment of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army was spotted crossing the Yalu River, China’s border with North Korea, and marching toward the Chosin and Fusen Dams. The Chinese 4th Field Army, under the command of Peng Dehuai, a tough and courageous revolutionary, was already in North Korea. Undismayed, MacArthur ordered his forces in Korea to advance north. He told the reporters the war was almost over. [Source: Robert Moskin, American Heritage, Volume51, Issue7 November 2000]

▪“The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington had ordered MacArthur to advance north of the thirty-eighth parallel but to keep all non-Korean troops away from the border with China. MacArthur disobeyed this order. On October 24, he sent Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker’s U.S. 8th Army and Maj. Gen. Edward M. Almond’s X Corps to the Yalu.

“Fatally dividing his forces, MacArthur sent the 8th Army north to the west of the mountains that form the towering spine of North Korea and the X Corps to the east of them. Almond ordered Maj. Gen. Oliver P. Smith to take his part of the 1st Marine Division north to relieve Republic of Korea troops near the Chosin and Fusen Reservoirs, manmade mountain lakes a hundred air miles to the north, a key part of North Korea’s hydroelectric system.

A.K. Starbuck wrote in Military History magazine: It was to a “patchwork U.N. army, composed mainly of Americans but having diverse units from 16 other countries, that the orders suddenly came to General Walton ‘Johnnie’ Walker’s Eighth Army headquarters to mount a massive offensive and push for an early end to the war. General Douglas MacArthur’s promise to relieve two divisions and have ‘the boys home for Christmas’ gave the impetus to an ill-conceived move to the Yalu River. There were some expressed misgivings, especially by the Eighth Army commander, General Walker. Those objections, however, were quickly pushed aside by the clique that surrounded MacArthur. Pressure to conclude the war in one massive offensive became too difficult to contain. The generals and commanders in the field who would actually commit their men to one of the bloodiest campaigns of the war were protesting voices that were either never acknowledged or ignored.” [Source: A.K. Starbuck, Military History magazine, December 1997]

Chinese Launch an Offensive in North Korea

On October 25, the first phase of the Chinese offensive began with the ROK (South Korean) 1st Division in contact with PLA units. Chinese POWs, interrogated that evening by US 8th Army intelligence officers, told of a sizable Chinese presence. This was reported to FEC G-2. Within the next two days, PLA units decimated two regiments of the ROK 6th Division and forced the ROK II Corps into general retreat. Yet, on 28 October, the CIA Daily Summary stated that only small, independent Chinese units were fighting in Korea. It totally discounted the possibility that major Chinese forces were present. By 29 October, South Korean units on both coasts captured Chinese from regimental-sized PLA units, and these prisoners convinced X Corps intelligence that the Chinese were being committed to battle as units, rather than as replacements for DPRK losses. That same day, however, the FEC Intelligence Summary advised that Chinese forces had little combat potential against a modern army. While this view was acceptable in Tokyo and Washington, combat units in Korea were considerably less comfortable with it. [Source: “Two Strategic Intelligence Mistakes in Korea, 1950" by P. K. Rose, CIA, Center for the Study of Intelligence, CSI Publications, Studies in Intelligence Studies, fall-winter 2001]

During the next two days, Tokyo and Washington continued to doubt the intelligence reports from the front. On 30 October, MacArthur’s G-2, General Willoughby, flew from Tokyo to X Corps Headquarters to personally interview 16 Chinese POWs. After this session, he pronounced them to be “stragglers” rather than members of an organized PLA unit. That same day, the 8th Army reported that 10 separate Chinese POWs stated that several PLA divisions were now in Korea. While reporting this in its Daily Summary, CIA restated its belief that Chinese intervention was unlikely, and that these troops could be protecting the hydroelectric plants essential to the Manchurian economy. The following day, the CIA Daily Summary carried a report from the 8th Army stating that its elements were in contact with two PLA regiments, and that a POW claimed the Chinese entered Korea on 16 October. The Agency commented that while small numbers of Chinese troops were operating in Korea, it did not believe this indicated Chinese intent to intervene openly or directly in the war.

By early November, field reports from Korea could no longer be ignored in Tokyo and Washington. In addition to POW reporting from both the 8th Army and X Corps, Marine Corps pilots reported massive truck conveys moving from Manchuria into Korea. Also, a regiment of the 1st US Cavalry Division, the first American unit to engage the PLA, took heavy casualties. By 4 November, the 1st Cavalry identified five PLA divisions opposing it, and the 1st Marine Division identified three PLA divisions operating against it. Intercepted Chinese communications disclosed an order for 30,000 maps of Korea for the forces in Manchuria; US Army military intelligence estimated these were enough maps for 30 PLA divisions.

FEC’s G-2 finally acknowledged that the Chinese were in Korea in force. But Willoughby continued to claim these forces did not represent official Chinese intervention. By 3 November, FEC had raised its estimate of Chinese strength in Korea to 34,000, backed by reserves in Manchuria of 498,000 PLA soldiers and 370,000 Chinese security troops. The CIA Weekly Summary of that date estimated a similar number of Chinese troops actually in Korea, but continued to take the position that China’s intention was to protect the Manchurian border and its hydroelectric plants. Finally, on 5 November, Willoughby admitted that Chinese forces in Korea had the potential to conduct a large-scale counteroffensive. Later that day, however, MacArthur advised the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) that he still did not believe the Chinese would enter the war in force.

Mao’s brilliant general during the war, Peng Dehuai, spent his last years tormented by Red Guards and died of untreated pneumonia in an unheated building.

Advancing Chinese “Volunteers”

A.K. Starbuck wrote in Military History magazine: “Assembled in front of Walker’s IX Corps in the west was the XIII Army Group of the Chinese Fourth Field Army, consisting of 18 infantry divisions totaling at least 180,000 men. Opposing the U.S. I Corps in the east was the IX Army Group of the Chinese Third Field Army with 12 infantry divisions of about 120,000 men. The total Chinese strength was about 300,000 men; 12 divisions of the North Korean Peoples Army added approximately 65,000 men to the enemy strength. The North Korean soldiers had recovered sufficiently from their earlier reverses at the hands of the Americans to be judged by their commanders to be battle worthy. Added to that array were about 40,000 guerrillas operating behind the U.N. lines. Enemy strength was more than slightly underestimated. [Source: A.K. Starbuck, Military History magazine, December 1997]

“The Chinese army had managed to move a vast number of troops by the most primitive means. Using animals and their own backs to transport supplies, they were not restricted to the primitive roads. They moved overland without the benefit of trucks or other mechanized equipment and therefore had the advantage of greater mobility. The United Nations, on the other hand, stuck with basic roads and improving existing roads to move men and equipment. Engineering companies moved ahead, trying to make roads passable for tanks and trucks.

“Another difference that was to count very highly against the United Nations and the United States was adherence to routine, World War II thinking and tactics. Chinese used soldiers were expected to carry on their backs all the food each soldier required for at least six days. The food was cooked rice and soybean curds in concentrated form as well as similar items that required no cooking or heating in order to be eaten. Recovered diaries of the Chinese soldiers recount their pangs of hunger from these severely restricted rations, but they achieved their objective in the same bitter cold and biting winds and over the same terrain that handicapped their U.N. opponents.

The “Chinese generally marched at night and averaged at least 18 miles per day for approximately 18 days. In the daylight hours, they concealed themselves in the rough, mountainous terrain. The only daylight movement allowed was by scouting parties. Restrictions were so onerous that officers were authorized to shoot to kill any soldier who violated the order for concealment. Many of the Chinese movement tactics were similar to those used by Napoleon Bonaparte a century and a half earlier.

“During the dogged advance, Walker’s army became more thinly stretched as the Korean Peninsula widened and forced the army to cover more territory as it moved steadily northward. His order of battle was comprised of the U.S. I Corps, consisting of the U.S. 24th Division, the British 27th Brigade, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) 1st Division; the U.S. IX Corps including the U.S. 2nd and 25th Divisions and the 1st Turkish Brigade; the ROK 6th, 7th, and 8th divisions; and the 1st Cavalry Division in Army reserve. Walker was cautious about committing his troops. Intelligence tried to get some realistic estimates about the Chinese troop strength and their movements. Daily briefings in early November indicated a dramatic increase in Chinese and North Korean troop strength from 40,100 to 98,400 men. These estimates still were woefully inadequate.”

Brief Respite of Chinese Offensive in North Korea

Between November 4 and 5, the Chinese forces broke contact and melted back into the countryside. This respite provided an opportunity for Tokyo and Washington to evaluate the situation and assess the nature and size of the Chinese threat. MacArthur advised that while the Chinese had not intervened in force, their strength in Korea could force a retreat of his troops. This seemingly contradictory message caused some confusion among the Washington military leadership. Meanwhile, Kim Il-sung publicly admitted that Chinese troops were fighting in Korea, and a New York Times article on 6 November said that the New China News Agency had reported that China had “volunteers” fighting there. Reliable Chinese Nationalist sources also reported that China was preparing for large-scale combat operations against the U.N. forces. [Source: “Two Strategic Intelligence Mistakes in Korea, 1950" by P. K. Rose, CIA, Center for the Study of Intelligence, CSI Publications, Studies in Intelligence Studies, fall-winter 2001]

On November 14, The New York Times reported that the Soviet press described the Chinese as ready to destroy any force which posed a threat to China, and on November 16 the newspaper reported that Chinese troops were moving into Korea in large numbers, and that even more troops would follow. Intelligence from the 8th Army also reported massive buildups of Chinese forces on both sides of the Korean-Chinese border.

By mid-November, FEC reported that 12 PLA divisions had been identified in Korea. On November 24, however, National Intelligence Estimate 2/1 stated that China had the capability for large-scale offensive operations but that there were no indications such an offensive was in the offing. That same day, the second Chinese offensive started, leaving the 8th Army fighting for its life and most of the 1st Marine Division surrounded and threatened with annihilation.

It took several days for MacArthur and his staff to face the fact that his “end of the war” offensive toward the Yalu was over and victory was not near. Finally, on November 28, MacArthur reported that he faced 200,000 PLA troops and a completely new war. MacArthur again had the numbers significantly wrong, but he got the “new war” part right.

Trapped and Left to Die in Unsan

Charles J. Hanley of Associated Press wrote: Trapped by two Chinese divisions, troops of the 8th U.S. Cavalry Regiment were left to die in far northern Korea, abandoned by the U.S. command in a Korean War episode viewed as one of the most troubling in American military history. The devastating losses at Unsan, in early November 1950, came as China intervened to fend off a final North Korean defeat. In a last letter home, dated Oct. 30, Rogers told his parents, "It is a lot better over here, but it's not over yet." [Source: Charles J. Hanley, Associated Press, July 18, 2010

“The U.S. command had ignored intelligence reports that China's army was moving south, and Rogers and the 8th Cavalry had been sent too far north, just 50 miles (80 kilometers) from China, where they stumbled into a closing enemy vise. Higher headquarters rejected requests for a pullback, then refused to send artillery forward to support a rescue effort. Finally, it ordered the rescue force withdrawn.

“Two of the 8th Cavalry's three battalions managed to escape, with heavy losses. But only small bands from the five companies of the doomed 3rd Battalion made it out as waves of Chinese infantry attacked their 200-yard-wide (200-meter-wide) defense perimeter. The 8th Cavalry's abandonment at Unsan became an infamous chapter in Army annals — "one of the most shameful and little-known incidents in U.S. military history," wrote Korean War historian Jack J. Gifford. Some 600 of the 3rd Battalion's 800 men were lost, about half believed killed and half captured, many of whom died in Chinese-run prison camps.

Battle on the Yalu River

On Sunday, November 26, the Chinese Communist Forces (CCF, People’s Liberation Army) struck along a 300-mile front near the Yalu River, which defines the border between China and North Korea. launching strong counterattacks against the U.S. I Corps and IX Corps and eventually throwing the entire 8th Army into retreat. At that time U.S. Marines were still marching towards the Yalu.

Robert Moskin wrote in American Heritage: “MacArthur was not troubled by intelligence reports of large Chinese forces building up on both sides of the Yalu. He ordered the 8th Army north on a climactic general offensive on the twenty-fourth. The civilian leadership and Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington did nothing to stop him. To MacArthur it was the beginning of the end of this war. The general who was the chief of staff of X Corps later called its role in the offensive — to travel west over the freezing, treacherous mountains of North Korea to link up with the 8th Army — “insane.” [Source: Robert Moskin, American Heritage, Volume51, Issue7 November 2000]

“Following MacArthur’s orders, a regiment of the Republic of Korea’s 6th Division reached the Yalu on October 26. By the next day, the Chinese 4th Field Army, in vicious righting, had nearly destroyed two of the division’s regiments. The New York Times reported that 200,000 Chinese soldiers were now in Korea. Mao Tse-tung insisted they were only volunteers, and MacArthur felt they were nothing to worry about. The Chinese, blowing bugles and whistles, attacked the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division on November 1 and badly mauled its 8th regiment. The next day, east of the mountains, the Chinese struck the Marines. [Source: Robert Moskin, American Heritage, Volume51, Issue7 November 2000]

“The 1st Marine Division consisted of 23,608 Marines and Navy hospital corpsmen, supported by the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. The division was organized in three infantry regiments, the 1st, 5th, and 7th Marines, and an artillery regiment, the llth Marines. After being issued parkas and other cold-weather gear, the 7th Marines, followed by the 5th Marines, started north toward the Chosin Reservoir. The 1st Marines remained behind to deal with the North Korean army on the coast. Many of the Marines, especially the officers and noncoms, were veterans of the war against Japan. All of them had been taught that killing was what war was about. They were persuaded that the Marine Corps was an elite service, that they were better at their job than the other services were at theirs. And their ethos was built about the simple idea that they would risk their lives for their fellow Marines. They would bring out their wounded; they would bring out their dead. It was a powerful creed.”

Battle of Chosin Reservoir

In the frozen mountains of Korea, South Korean forces and U.S. Marines endured a campaign as grueling and heroic as any in history. At Chosin reservoir from November 26 to December 13, 1950, they stopped a major Chinese attack and inflicted heavy casualties. Ryan Pickrell wrote in Business Insider: “The Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, a defining moment for the Corps, was a miserable 17-day fight for the Marines, who were surrounded when the Chinese entered the Korean War on in late November 1950. [Source: Ryan Pickrell, Business Insider, November 10, 2020]

Around 30,000 UN troops — the so-called "Chosin Few" — were encircled and attacked by roughly 120,000 Chinese soldiers. "We've been looking for the enemy for several days now. We've finally found them. We're surrounded. That simplifies our problem of finding these people and killing them," Lt. Gen. Lewis "Chesty" Puller, the most decorated Marine in American history, told embedded reporters eager to know his plan.

“When asked about plans for a withdrawal, he told frightened officers that there will be no retreat. By the end of the fight, the battle had devolved into a hard brawl, as Marines engaged the Chinese forces in hand-to-hand combat, driving back wave after wave of Chinese troops. Unable to dig foxholes in the frozen ground, the Marines used the bodies of the fallen Chinese soldiers to build defensive fortifications. The Marines lost nearly 1,000 men, with another 10,000 wounded, in a battle that was technically a defeat, as the UN forces that fought in the "Frozen Chosin" had to fall back to southern Korea. The Chinese losses, on the other hand, were catastrophic, estimated to be in the tens of thousands.”

Marines Arrive at Chosin Reservoir

Moskin wrote in American Heritage:“The Marines had to follow a rutted, gravel and dirt two-lane road north 78 miles through the mountains to the desolate little village of Yudam-ni at the western tip of the Chosin Reservoir. For the first 43 miles, the road rose gently through rather level terrain. Then it narrowed to one lane and, twisting and snow-covered, climbed through Funchilin Pass among mile-high peaks. Here the road was nothing but a narrow shelf hacked into the mountainside. [Source: Robert Moskin, American Heritage, Volume51, Issue7 November 2000]

“At the Chosin Reservoir’s southern tip, the road divided. The Marines would follow the branch up the western side of the reservoir, climb through Toktong Pass, and then drop again through gorges into the broad valley of Yudam-ni. From there they would wheel west and try to close the enormous gap to the 8th Army on the other side of the mountain range. The primitive road up to the reservoir would become the Marines’ main supply route (MSR) — and the center of the attention of the world.”

As the Marines arrived in the area, “winter struck. Suddenly the temperature at Koto-ri plunged below zero, and vicious winds from Siberia sent many Marines into shock. The cold numbed both flesh and spirit. It would dominate the rest of the campaign. To survive, the men piled on layers of clothing; they carried their canteens and extra socks inside their clothes. Still they paid the penalty of frostbite and frozen feet, hands, and faces. Oil congealed in weapons, and entrenching tools could not break the earth. Jeep ambulances were useless; the wounded they carried would freeze to death. [Source: Robert Moskin, American Heritage, Volume51, Issue7 November 2000]

“In the mountains, when the wind was up and blew away any new snow, the road turned into a ribbon of glass...Major General Smith worried that his men were out on a limb. He wrote the Marine Corps commandant: “I believe a winter campaign in the mountains of North Korea is too much to ask of the American soldier or marine, and I doubt the feasibility of supplying troops in this area during the winter or providing for the evacuation of sick and wounded.” On November 15, the 7th Marines occupied the abandoned town of Hagaru-ri at the southern end of the Chosin Reservoir. This would become their forward base. In temperatures below zero, the 1st Engineer Battalion began building an airstrip.

Early Fighting During the Battle at Chosin Reservoir

Moskin wrote in American Heritage: “The Marines sparred with the North Korean army as they trucked north. Then, at 11:00pm on November 2, two Chinese battalions, moving swiftly and silently, attacked Lt. Col. Raymond G. Davis’s 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, in an expert double envelopment. After two hours, the Marines bent under the assault. The Chinese swarmed into the valley, seized a sharp turn in the road, and cut the MSR. [Source: Robert Moskin, American Heritage, Volume51, Issue7 November 2000]

“At dawn, Col. Homer L. Litzenberg, a burly, stubborn middle-aged man, called in supporting arms for his 7th Marines. Howitzers, mortars, machine guns, and aircraft went to work. They killed hundreds of Chinese in the valley and on the hillsides, but it took another full day’s fighting to force the persistent enemy back off the road. The Marines evacuated a hundred of their own casualties.

“Maj. Maurice E. Roach’s 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, battled the entrenched Chinese guarding the entrance to the eight-mile-long Funchilin Pass on November 6. Then, the next morning, amazingly, the Chinese were gone. They simply vanished throughout Korea. The disappearance of the Chinese army gave the American commanders a dangerous illusion of victory. Early on November 10, the Marines climbed through Funchilin Pass and occupied Koto-ri. That day was the 175th birthday of the Corps. Back on the coast, Col. Lewis B. (“Chesty”) Puller solemnly sliced a 100-pound cake with a North Korean sword.

“After Hagaru-ri, the plans now called for the two Marine regiments to split. Litzenberg’s 7th Marines would go up the west side of the reservoir to Yudam-ni; the 5th Marines would go up the eastern side. The 5th was led by six-footfour-inch Lt. Col. Raymond L. Murray, who had commanded a battalion at Guadalcanal and Tarawa and won the Navy Cross and two Silver Stars in World War II. On Thanksgiving, most Marines were fed a hot turkey dinner. For many, it would be the last real meal for nearly three weeks.

“Then the 5th Marines, now advancing east of the reservoir, were ordered to return and join the 7th Marines at Yudam-ni. The 5th Marines were replaced in their forward position by the Army’s 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry Regiment. Its commander, Lt. Col. Don C. Faith, Jr., had been Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway’s aide in the 82d Airborne Division during World War II.

“On Sunday, November 26, the People’s Liberation Army reappeared, striking along a 300-mile front. In western North Korea, the Chinese threw the entire 8th Army into retreat. Word of this disaster filtered through to the Marines slowly. Their mission was not changed. They kept marching to their fate. MacArthur, worried at last, radioed the Pentagon and the United Nations: “We face an entirely new war.” It had been a terrible night. From Yudam-ni to Toktong Pass, the Marines counted their dead. They still held strongpoints, but the Chinese had cut their link to the sea.

“It was cold at Yudam-ni. By midnight that Sunday the temperature was 25 below zero as the Siberian wind whipped over the bare hills and the frozen arm of the reservoir. Early Monday morning, the freezing riflemen of Lt. Col. Harold S. Roise’s 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, gathered around small fires to thaw their rations and weapons and then moved out on the road leading west from Yudam-ni. The 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, advanced along the ridges on both sides. Both battalions received heavy fire. The mass of Sakkat Mountain rose directly in front of Roise’s Marines. The Chinese, dug into the mountain’s eastern face, stopped them cold. At midafternoon, Roise called off the attack. On the left flank, G Company, 7th Marines, fought until after dark, when the Chinese machine guns drove them back. This would be the high-water mark of the Marines’ march to the Yalu.

Chinese Launch Massive Human Wave Attacks at U.S. Marines

American forces were surprised with Chinese "human wave" attacks that overran many U.S. units. The American nearly lost their nerve when Chinese waves broke across American lines in November and December 1950. Among the thousands of Chinese killed in the advance was Mao's 28-year-old son Anying.

Moskin wrote:“That Monday night, the Marines at Yudam-ni fought a major battle when Sung Shin-lun, one of China’s best field commanders, sent two divisions to destroy them there. After hiking silently over mountain trails under a full moon, with temperatures at 20 degrees below zero, his men threw themselves en masse against the Marines’ firepower and doggedness. The Marines piled up dead Chinese in front of their positions, but the attackers kept coming, and by dawn they held the commanding ground at Yudam-ni. [Source: Robert Moskin, American Heritage, Volume51, Issue7 November 2000]

“While two of Sung’s divisions fought the Marines in the hills at Yudam-ni, elements of a third swung around to the south and struck C Company, 7th Marines, outposted on a hill a little less than five miles south of the village. The seesaw battle there lasted until dawn, when artillery fire from Yudam-ni drove the Chinese back. Surrounded and outnumbered, the C Company Marines could only wait for help. Two mountain-road-miles farther south, the Chinese hit the 240 Marines and corpsmen of reinforced F Company, 7th Marines, holding Fox Hill in the middle of Toktong Pass. Capt. William E. Barber, F Company’s commander, who had won the Silver Star on Iwo Jima, was ordered to keep the pass open. If Sung seized Toktong Pass, he could cut off the two regiments of Marines to the north. Thus began at Fox Hill a siege of five nights and days that is one of the U.S. Marine Corps epics.

“The Chinese quickly overwhelmed Barber’s two forward squads and, attacking repeatedly, seized the hill’s crest. At that point, three Marines — Pfc. Robert F. Benson. Pvt. Hector A. Cafferata, Jr., and Pfc. Gerald J. Smith — made a stand, wiped out two enemy platoons, and prevented a breakthrough. So far, F Company had 20 dead and 54 wounded, but the Marines had killed some 400 of the enemy. The Chinese attack petered out.

“It had been a terrible night. From Yudam-ni to Toktong Pass, the Americans counted their dead and wounded. The Chinese had cut their link to the sea: the Marines were isolated and embattled. That same night, east of the reservoir. the Chinese swooped down on the U.S. Army. The GIs took heavy losses until at dawn four gull-winged Marine Corsair fighter-bombers roared in and dropped napalm.

“At Yudam-ni, before dawn on November 28, weary Marines counterattacked to drive the Chinese from the high ground above the village; they took on 50 Chinese in hand-to-hand battle and then destroyed an entire Chinese company attacking up the far slope. The battle for that hill had already cost more than 200 Marine casualties, and carrying them down took the whole morning. Yet they were the lucky ones; seriously wounded men did not survive long out in the intense cold.

“Now the Marines once again held that essential hill. At the same time, the wounded were piling up at Yudam-ni, stretching the medical delivery system. Doctors and corpsmen were overwhelmed. The dead were carried out and placed in frozen stacks. Meanwhile, thousands more Chinese infantrymen were moving into position in the hills around the reservoir. Colonel Litzenberg of the 7th Marines and Lieutenant Colonel Murray of the 5th Marines met at dawn and agreed that their men were paying too high a price; the killing in the wilderness could not go on. Murray canceled the 5th Marines’ advance westward from Yudam-ni, and the two regimental commanders worked together to organize a defensive line and fill their rifle companies’ depleted ranks with Marines from the artillery battalions. The Corps tenet “Every Marine a rifleman” paid off. At 4:30pm, Major General Smith officially ordered the 7th Marines, followed by the 5th Marines, to attack to the south and reopen the road back to Hagaru-ri. The drive to the Yalu was dead.”

Rescuing Trapped American Military Units

After the drive to Yalu by U.S. Marines was halted and hundreds of thousands Chinese had moved into North Korea and were attacking U.N. forces, Moskin wrote: “the first job was to rescue C and F Companies, 7th Marines, which were encircled on hills down the MSR. Lieutenant Colonel Davis’s 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, marched and climbed and fought for more than five hours and after dark brought back C Company and its 46 wounded. Farther south, their second night at the top of Toktong Pass cost Captain Barber’s F Company 5 more men killed and 29 wounded, some of them dying because the blood plasma supply was frozen. Navy corpsmen had to melt the morphine Syrettes in their mouths before giving injections. [Source: Robert Moskin, American Heritage, Volume51, Issue7 November 2000]

“A composite rescue battalion set out from Yudam-ni for Fox Hill but was forced to turn back. The F Company Marines spent a third night without much sleep or a hot meal. Then at 2:00am on the thirtieth the Chinese hit again. Fighting in a heavy snowstorm, the Marines repelled three companies at a cost of one wounded. By dawn, the Marines on Fox Hill had begun to believe the Chinese might never take their hill.

“At Hagaru-ri, 14 miles south of Yudam-ni, the Marines had by now established the forward base for their abortive advance, with divisional headquarters, supply dumps, hospital facilities, and a partly finished airstrip. It reminded one officer of old photographs of a gold-rush mining camp in the Klondike. Lt. Col. Thomas L. Ridge, who had the responsibility of defending this base with his 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, knew the enemy had cut the road both north to Yudam-ni and south to Koto-ri. Hagaru-ri was isolated.

Turkish Units During the Battle on the Yalu River

A.K. Starbuck wrote in Military History magazine: “The main Chinese force moved down the central mountain ranges against the ROK II Corps at Tokchon. The South Koreans could not withstand the attack and their defenses collapsed. The Chinese onslaught assumed alarming proportions, and the Turks were ordered to protect the U.N. right flank. Trucks were assigned to transport the Turks’ 1st Battalion to Wawon, 15 miles east of Kunu-ri, about halfway to Takchon, unload and return for the 2nd Battalion. After insufficient trucks arrived, some of the brigade set out on foot. Orders, counterorders and garbled transmissions made the situation an unintelligible mess. [Source: A.K. Starbuck, Military History magazine, December 1997]

“At the 2nd Division Headquarters, information about the Turks and their actual movements was more and more difficult to obtain. The tanks sent toward the Turks’ position were repeatedly turned back. Confusion led to startling events, such as American soldiers simply abandoning their positions and equipment, including their weapons. The Chinese appeared to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Confirmation of Chinese movements was sparse and often erroneous. The Chinese, reported to be just ahead, turned out to be advancing on the soldiers from behind. The Turks decided to evacuate the command post. A new and yet ancient style of warfare had begun.

“The Chinese and North Koreans used a multiple of tactics in a mountainous terrain that left little, if any, mobility. The weather had become an enemy as cruel as the terrain. The Turks and Americans, unable to communicate and coordinate, fought valiantly, but without much direction and without knowing what their fellow soldiers and units were doing.

“The U.N. response to the Chinese offensive in November 1950 has been described as a ‘bugout,’ a massive retreat that should not have happened. MacArthur’s offensive began with high expectations of bringing the soldiers home for Christmas. Afterward, the words ‘home for Christmas’ rang hollow in the ears of both the military and the politicians. The terrain, the weather, the lack of adequate language skills by the Americans and the Turks, and the lack of options for that massive an operation preordained the bloody, tragic outcome.

Ugly Defeat

Moskin wrote: Also on November 28, “G Company, 1st Marines, B Company, 31st Infantry, and the 41st Commando, British Royal Marines, arrived from the south at Koto-ri, 11 miles back down the MSR from Hagaru-ri. Colonel Puller gave Lt. Col. Douglas B. Drysdale, the Royal Marine unit’s commander, a task force to fight through to Hagaru-ri, where they were needed. Describing the Chinese positions to Drysdale, Puller memorably said, “They’ve got us surrounded. The bastards won’t get away this time.” [Source: Robert Moskin, American Heritage, Volume51, Issue7 November 2000]

“So began one of the ugliest episodes in Marine Corps history. Drysdale headed north the next morning. By late afternoon, after being joined by more platoons, he led a seemingly strong task force of 922 men and 141 vehicles, with 29 tanks. But in a snow-covered valley about five miles north of Koto-ri, enemy fire forced the convoy to halt. Drysdale later called the spot “Hell Fire Valley.”

“A mortar shell exploded an ammunition truck, creating a fire that split the column. The front section of the task force, 440 men with Drysdale in command, fought forward and reached Maj. Edwin H. Simmons’s roadblock on the Hagaru-ri perimeter. Of these men, 109 were casualties, including Drysdale. Those remaining in Hell Fire Valley were ordered to turn the vehicles around for a dash back to Koto-ri. The Chinese did not let them escape, and attacks severed the column into four groups.

“The Chinese kept the little perimeters pinned down until 4:30am, when they demanded that the trapped men surrender. The Marine Major John McLaughlin and the British Sergeant Patrick D. Murphy went out to parley, hoping to stall until air support returned with daylight. The Chinese gave them 10 minutes to decide. McLaughlin had little choice; none of his 40 remaining able-bodied men had more than eight rounds of rifle ammunition. He said he would surrender if the Chinese allowed the evacuation of the seriously wounded to Koto-ri. The Chinese agreed. All told, Task Force Drysdale had sustained an estimated 162 killed or missing and 159 wounded.

“On the afternoon of November 30, Major General Almond flew into Hagaru-ri and told Major General Smith and the Army commanders of the 7th Infantry Division that they should concentrate all their troops right there, and then withdraw to the coast. Almond was nervous and alarmed, clearly realizing that the survival of his command was at stake. He promised to resupply Smith by air and authorized him to destroy all equipment that would delay his withdrawal. Smith stiffly replied that he would fight his way out and bring out his wounded and his equipment.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons.

Text Sources: South Korean government websites, Korea Tourism Organization, Cultural Heritage Administration, Republic of Korea, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Library of Congress, CIA World Factbook, World Bank, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, “Culture and Customs of Korea” by Donald N. Clark, Chunghee Sarah Soh in “Countries and Their Cultures”, “Columbia Encyclopedia”, Korea Times, Korea Herald, The Hankyoreh, JoongAng Daily, Radio Free Asia, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, BBC, AFP, The Atlantic, Yomiuri Shimbun, The Guardian and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2021

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