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Eyewitness north Korea

Survivors recall massacre by U.S. troops at Sinchon

By Sharon Ayling

Ayling and Brian Becker visited the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea in February as a Workers World Party delegation.

A visit to the Sinchon Museum in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea was a heart-wrenching experience.

The museum documents the terrible atrocities carried out by U.S. soldiers during the Korean War against the civilian population of Sinchon County in socialist north Korea.

The large museum is filled with evidence of this mass murder. In 52 days of occupation, from October to December 1950, the U.S. military killed 35,383 people, or a quarter of Sinchon County's population.

Each room brought more horror, as a guide showed photographs, belongings and weapons connected to innumerable U.S. war crimes. There was well-documented evidence of 2,000 people pushed off the Sokdang Bridge, 1,000 women thrown into the Sowon Reservoir, 600 others found in the Pogu Reservoir, 1,200 stuffed in an icehouse and then burned to death.

Over 900 people perished in an air-raid shelter when U.S. soldiers poured gasoline into the ventilation hole and ignited it.

The horror was similar to that seen at Al-Ameriyah Shelter in Baghdad, Iraq, which the U.S. deliberately bombed during the 1991 Gulf War, incinerating 1,100 people. Like the Korean museum, that shelter has been turned into a shrine to the martyrs and a permanent account of U.S. genocide.

A short drive to Wonam-ri brought us to two storehouses in which 400 mothers and 102 children had been butchered. We were met by a man who was one of two children who survived that bloodbath.

The Sinchon Museum carefully documents the systematic destruction of people's homes and livelihoods in the county: 5,484 dwellings burnt; 618 factories, public buildings and irrigation facilities destroyed; 681 transport vehicles and 214,413 farm implemented destroyed; 9,624 oxen and other domestic animals looted.

A large section of the museum is devoted to the popular resistance to this genocide. It includes photos of the People's Guerrillas, mass leaflets, newspapers, and especially pictures of popular leaders whom the U.S. had assassinated.

One room documents the continuing resistance to U.S. military occupation of the Korean peninsula. A large photo shows south Korean student Rim Su Gyong speaking to a mass rally in 1989 outside the museum. Rim came to north Korea to support reuniting the north and south of the country, which are kept separated by the presence of 37,000 U.S. troops on the border. Her presence inspired mass marches throughout the north.

Upon her return home, she was jailed for five years by the south Korean regime. Brian Becker, who went to the DPRK to support this struggle and was also on the current Workers World delegation, stands next to Rim in the picture.

The politics behind the brutality

Why were U.S. soldiers so brutal during the Korean War?

The U.S. occupiers were encouraged to carry out atrocities by a high command that was furious at being pushed out of the area by hundreds of thousands of Chinese volunteers fighting alongside the soldiers of socialist north Korea. This was at a time when the U.S. corporations' dream of absorbing Asia as a giant market after World War II was being frustrated by revolutions throughout the area. Anti-communism was rising to a fever pitch in the United States.

News of U.S. war crimes came to international attention soon after Sinchon County was liberated. Teams from the Commission of International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the Women's International Democratic Federation investigated and confirmed the evidence. They wrote extensive reports in 1951 and 1952 that became the core evidence for the current museum.

As our delegation left the museum, a large group of high school students arrived for a tour. While it is painful that these young people must see such horror, it is also clear why these young people harbor no illusions about the true nature of U.S. imperialism.

U.S. war crimes during the Korean War are again coming to world attention. The July 1950 U.S. machine-gun massacre of hundreds of peasants at Nogun-ri is the most publicized. The Western media have now reported 38 instances of U.S. military attacks on south Korean civilians.

The terrible massacres that the U.S. carried out in the north should be added to that count. An estimated 2 million Korean civilians died during the war, most at the hands of the Pentagon.

This summer the U.S. military and the south Korean regime will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Korean War with battle reenactments, including mock landings, that will $39 million.

All those opposed to this hideous pageant must bring to world attention the genocide that followed those landings.

This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
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