The Nogun-ri Controversy

 
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In September of 1999, an Associated Press story about an alleged mass murder of South Korean civilians that purportedly took place in late July of 1950 at Nogun-ri, Korea, made headlines across the nation and around the world. The authors of the story were Sang-hun Choe (age 36), Charles J. Hanley (age 52), and Martha Mendoza (age 33). The authors received a Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for this story. They also published a book entitled, The Bridge at Nogun-ri: A Hidden Nightmare from the Korean War. Following the release of the Associated Press story, the United States and South Korean governments began investigations of their own into the allegations.

The story caught the attention of the general public, and letters from outraged American citizens condemning the incident appeared in Letters to the Editor columns in newspapers around the nation. The AP story was released just as the United States and South Korean governments were planning and staging commemorative events to honor Korean War veterans and mark the 50th anniversary of the start of hostilities in Korea. Many Korean War veterans, who had already long felt that their contributions to world peace were never fully or even partially recognized or appreciated by the public in general, were angry and dismayed over the negative publicity generated by the AP story.

Some of the "facts" in the Pulitzer Prize-winning story were based on an interview with a veteran named Edward Lee Daily of Clarksville, Tennessee. Not long after the AP story was released, it was discovered that Daily had lied about his presence at Nogun-ri. Hearsay testimony by other sources for the story could not be confirmed because the officers in question had long since died-either in combat in Korea, or in subsequent years. In addition, some of the eyewitnesses who alleged that the mass murder took place were young children in 1950, relying now as adults on their childhood memories. A number of these witnesses are seeking financial compensation from the United States government.

This page of The Korean War Educator is devoted to sharing written materials about the Nogun-ri incident (and related issues) with the visitors to this website. The Nogun-ri Controversy page includes one editorial that was written by Lynnita Sommer (Brown) shortly after the story went to press. Other than Lynnita's editorial, none of the materials found on this page are the product or original works of anyone associated with The Korean War Educator Foundation. Whenever possible, credit is given to the author of the written material, or the publication in which it was found.

Other materials associated with the Nogun-ri controversy that are not shown here to date may be submitted to The Korean War Educator by sending them to Lynnita Brown, 111 E. Houghton Street, Tuscola, IL 61953. E-mail lynnita@koreanwar-educator.org. Materials stating opinions on both sides of the controversy will be accepted, but nothing that is inordinately disrespectful to America's Korean War veterans will appear on The Korean War Educator website.

Another source for information about the Nogun-ri controversy is The Korean War Educator's Best on the Net Nogun-ri Websites page.

 

 

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