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Sinchon Massacre
Location Sinchon, North Korea
Date 17 October 1950[1] - 7 December 1950[1]
Target Sinchon residents[1]
Attack type
Deaths 30,000,[1] one fourth of Sinchon population[1]
File:Painting of the Massacre at the Soktang Bridge.jpg

Massacre at the Soktang Bridge during the Sinchon Massacre

The location of South Hwanghae Province.

The location of Sinchon in South Hwanghae Province.

The Sinchon Massacre (Korean language: 신천 양민학살 사건 ,[1] Hanja: 信川良民虐殺事件,[1] Sinchon civilian Massacre[1]) was an alleged mass murder of civilians between 17 October and 7 December 1950,[1] in or near the town of Sinchon, during the outbreak of the Korean War. It is widely acknowledged that many civilians died during the war, but the reasons for this are debated. Sinchon is currently part of South Hwanghae Province, North Korea.

North Korean claim

North Korean sources claim that approximately 35,000 people were killed by American military forces and other supporters during the course of 52 days, which would have been about a quarter of the population of the county.[2] Jack Willey of The Militant claimed that according to "Ri Song Jin, a witness to the massacre, imperialist forces tortured many Korean patriots in the basement of the Sinchon church at the beginning of the occupation, then buried the dead and near-dead bodies in a trench.[3]" The Sinchon Museum of American War Atrocities was established in 1958 and displays remains and belongings of those who are claimed to have been killed in the incident.[4]

NGO claims

In a report prepared in Pyongyang, the left winged, communist sponsored [5] non-governmental International Association of Democratic Lawyers lists several alleged incidents of mass murder by U.S. soldiers,[6] and claims that the massacre was overseen by a General Harrison or Halison, an apparent reference to William Kelly Harrison. Their report claims that Harrison took photos of the massacre. There is no evidence to confirm their testimony, and Harrison was reportedly shocked by the claim.[7] Other reports also concluded there was no Harrison in the area at the time, and that it was either a pseudonym or a false claim.[8]

The Institute for Korean Historical Studies, summarized in a Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation report, concluded that both Communists and anti-Communist vigilantes were engaging in wholesale slaughter throughout the area, and that the 19th Infantry Regiment took the city and failed to prevent the secret police that came with them from perpetuating the civilian murders, but did not participate themselves. Furthermore, when Communists retook the city, the population was again purged.[8] Other sources have concluded that the "massacre" was caused by a local rivalry that used the fog of war as a pretense.[9]

Further reading

  • Jong-yil Ra "Governing North Korea. Some Afterthoughts on the Autumn of 1950". Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 40, No. 3 (Jul., 2005), pp. 521–546 doi:10.1177/0022009405054570

See also

  • List of massacres in North Korea
  • List of massacres in South Korea
  • Massacre in Korea, a painting by Pablo Picasso, depicting the Sinchon massacre
  • Sinchon Museum of American War Atrocities


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