|ABOVE: South Korean WACs in drill formation. |
BELOW: North Korean women captured by allied forces in the vicinity of Taegu.
Korean women made a sizable if sparsely documented role in the Korean War. By 1945, Women in South Korea had made gains in education and were increasingly entering the workforce. The 1948 constitution had given women equality with men. The onset of the Korean War changed the status of women in South Korea. Not only did women who were trained at the Republic of Korea’s army medical field school serve in the Republic of Korea Women’s Army Corp (ROKWAC) as surgeons, nurses, and dentists, they were employed by war industries. As the need for servicewomen increased, more and more Korean women enlisted, and some trained to serve as officers in the ROKWAC. Recruits were given basic military training and then assigned to units as needed. As the war continued, women were given specialized training and were attached to specialized units.
The North Korean Peoples Army employed women for transporting supplies to the front as well as other logistical tasks. Female soldiers served not only in traditional support roles but as frontline troops alongside their male counterparts. North Korean women frequently posed as refugees to infiltrate enemy lines to gather intelligence or to inflict casualties on unsuspecting U.N. forces. In addition, women fought with guerrilla units in the South, engaging in hit-and-run operations as well as sabotage.