Koje-do Prison Facts

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The following facts were current as of March 1952, according to "Prisoner's Island: Tension and Tedium Rule Koje's Barbed-Wire World". This was an extensive story about life for the prisoners on Koje island off the east coast of South Korea. The story appeared in Vol. 32, Issue Number 13, pages 92 to 98 in the March 31, 1952 issue of LIFE magazine.
  • Koje had 3,000 Prisoners of War under the age of 17
  • 170,000 prisoners lived there
  • 38,000 of the POWs were Korean civilians pressed into Red armies
  • 21,000 were Chinese POW's
  • 111,000 were North Korean POWs of both sexes between the ages of 6 and 63
  • 60% of the Chinese POWs were illiterate
  • 24% of the Koreans were illiterate
  • Messages were sent from compound to compound via dragonflies
  • Each arriving prisoner received about $50 worth of GI uniform
  • Compound 66 had 2,600 North Korean officers who believed in communism
  • 6,000 Koreans and 13,000 Chinese signed anti-Communist petitions, sometimes in blood
  • In February of 1952, 69 POWs in Compound 62 died in a riot
  • Prisoners of War on Koje studied language, history, manual crafts, modern farming, and the difference between democracy and totalitarianism.

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