Pacific Stars and Stripes
October 7, 1999
Another Korean War Massacre Report Surfaces
By Jim Lea, Stripes Osan Bureau Chief
Reports of a second incident of alleged killing of South Korean civilians by U.S. troops in the early days of the Korean War have surfaced as officials in Seoul and Washington investigate the alleged killing of civilians at No Gun Ri by members of the 1st Cavalry Division.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported Tuesday that residents of the village of Kokan Ri in Masan, 240 miles south of Seoul, said that U.S. troops and aircraft fired on 100 villagers who were hiding in a house at the village on Aug. 11, 1950.
Yonhap quoted a woman identified as Lee Man-sun, 66, as saying 74 people were killed immediately and nine others died later of wounds suffered in the incident. A spokesman for the Masan city office said Wednesday that city officials are establishing a team to investigate the report. But, he said, that team has not begun conducting interviews yet.
Lee says she was wounded in the incident and still has an M1 rifle bullet in her thigh, Yonhap said. She told the news agency that South Korean police had told residents to evacuate the village the night of Aug. 10. About 100 villagers, all members of her family clan, refused to flee and took refuge in a house on the village outskirts used for ancestral worship rites, she said.
The Yonhap story did not say why police had ordered the evacuation. Published histories of the Korean War, however, say there was heavy fighting in the Kokan Ri vicinity Aug. 10 and 11 as North Korean troops tried to break through the Pusan perimeter — a defensive cordon set up in the southeastern corner of the country to protect Pusan port, where war supplies and reinforcements were pouring in.
The Kokan Ri report comes on the heels of a report by The Associated Press last week that members of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division say they fired on unarmed South Korean civilians hiding beneath a railroad trestle at No Gun Ri, 130 miles southeast of Seoul, on July 26, 1950, killing hundreds.
Officials of the No Gun Ri Survivors Group say they have documented that at least 121 people were killed in the incident. Yonhap has categorized the Kokan Ri incident as an "alleged massacre." But information attributed to Lee indicates a significant difference in what may have happened there and at No Gun Ri.