Friday, February 23, 2018

North Korean Soldiers

September 18, 1950.  Philip Hughes of B Company, 19th Infantry Regiment has been dead for six days, but the war in Korea continues.  It is far from over.  This date is three days after the Inchon Invasion, which dramatically reduced the enemy pressure on the Pusan Perimeter.  The beleaguered American and South Korean forces would not only hold, but retake South Korea.  North Korean forces were on the run.  Increasingly, Americans were encountering children among their enemy combatants. Poorly equipped and underfed, surrender was an attractive option for many, as it was for these two young "soldiers" undergoing interrogation.  What could they say?  They "fought" under duress for an army that would normally kill them for failing to advance and engage in battle.

These boys would be interned somewhere in South Korea until a large scale prisoner of war camp was opened on Koje-do Island in February 1951.  Had they survived the challenges of incarceration, they may have been among those released by South Korean President Syngman Rhee into South Korea in the spring of 1953.  Or they would may have returned to the North as so many others did, some willingly, some not so.  They would be nearly 80 years of age today.

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