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238 foreign reporters were dispatched during Korean War

Posted May. 16, 2020 07:48,   

Updated May. 16, 2020 07:48


“Around in late September 1950, a total of 238 war correspondents from 24 countries around the globe were working vigorously on the Korean Peninsula to cover the developments of the Korean War. The number of them was half the total number of journalists who were dispatched during the Second World War.”

Professor Emeritus Jung Jin-seok at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies gave a presentation on Korean journalism during the Korean War at a seminar titled “The Korean War and Korean Journalism” held on Friday at KAL Hotel in Seogwipo, Jeju Island. “The Second World War had been the first and only instance where such a large number of reporters were sent to a certain region at the same time,” said Professor Jung. “Unofficial data indicate that journalists from overseas totaled around 600 during the Korean War.” The seminar was organized by Kwanhun Club with sponsorship by the Korea Press Foundation.

Eighteen correspondents lost their lives on the war front, according to Professor Jung’s presentation, Ten out of which came from the United States. Among the U.S. victims, eight got shot to death while the rest two died in an airplane crash.

While evacuating various places such as Busan for safety and security during war time, newspaper companies strived to publish news but ended up being faced with substantial human loss and damage to facilities. Around 16 journalists of the Dong-A Ilbo were forcedly sent to North Korea including chief editor Jeong In-gap, head photographer Baek Un-seon and sports reporter Lee Gil-yong. The Dong-A Ilbo in Seoul posted a notice dated Oct. 4 1950 after a long suspension saying, “Families of any missing reporters are advised to contact the headquarters.” “It is estimated that a total of 285 journalists were sent to North Korea by force during the Korean War including 28 KBS reporters,” argued professor Jeong.

North Korea ramped up anti-South propaganda by ordering writers to post articles on “reunification by peace” in North Korean ruling party’s Rodong Sinmun and the Minjoo Chosun under the North’s cabinet throughout June in 1950, even before it mounted an invasion to the South. Based on such preparatory moves, Pyongyang published the Liberation Daily and the Chosun Inminbo just four days after it conquered Seoul, as a way to tighten hold of the nation, according to Professor Jeong.

Professor Yoon Sang-gil of the media and press department at Shinhan University pointed out the preval‎ence of false news in a speech titled “Journalism during the Cold War, the Cold War in Journalism.” “Much of news turned out to be false and wrong as the military often provided misinformation on war developments,” he said.

Jong-Yeob JO jjj@donga.com