The Massacre at No Gun Ri
: Army Letter reveals U.S. intent
by Charles J. Hanley
and Martha Mendoza
April 16, 2007
Six years after declaring the U.S. killing of Korean War refugees at No Gun Ri was "not deliberate," the Army has acknowledged it found but did not divulge that a high-level document said the U.S. military had a policy of shooting approaching civilians in South Korea.
The document, a letter from the U.S. ambassador in South Korea to the State Department in Washington, is dated the day in 1950 when U.S. troops began the No Gun Ri shootings, in which survivors say hundreds, mostly women and children, were killed.
미대사관에서 미국무부로 간 편지는 미군이 노근리총격을 시작한 바로 그 날에 작성되었다. 그 서신은 생존자들은 대부분 여자와 어린아이를 포함한 수백명이 사살되었다고 기록하고 있다.
Exclusion of the embassy letter from the Army's 2001 investigative report is the most significant among numerous omissions of documents and testimony pointing to a policy of firing on refugee groups -- undisclosed evidence uncovered by Associated Press archival research and Freedom of Information Act requests.
2001년 미육군 보고서에서 미대사관의 편지가 누락된 것은 피난민들을 향한 총격 지침을 가리키는 문서나 증언의 수많은 누락분들 가운데 가장 의미심장한 것이다.
South Korean petitioners say hundreds more refugees died later in 1950 as a result of the U.S. practice. The Seoul government is investigating one such large-scale killing, of refugees stranded on a beach, newly confirmed via U.S. archives.
No Gun Ri survivors, who call the Army's 2001 investigation a "whitewash," are demanding a reopened investigation, compensation and a U.S. apology.
노근리 생존자들은 미육군의 2001년 조사가 겉발림에 불과하다고 주장하면서 조사 재개와 보장 그리고 미국의 사과를 요구하고 있다.
Harvard historian Sahr Conway-Lanz first disclosed the existence of Ambassador John H. Muccio's 1950 letter in a scholarly article and a 2006 book, "Collateral Damage." He uncovered the declassified document at the U.S. National Archives.
하바드의 역사학사 샤 콘웨이 란즈는 학술기고문과 2006년 서적인 "Collateral Damage"에서 존 무치오 대사의 1950년 편지의 존재를 공개하였다. 그는 미국립문서보관서에서 비밀해제된 문서를 공개하였다.
When asked last year, the Pentagon didn't address the central question of whether U.S. investigators had seen the document before issuing their No Gun Ri report. Ex-Army Secretary Louis Caldera suggested to The Associated Press that Army researchers may have missed it.
펜타곤은 미조사관들이 노근리 보고서를 발간하기전에 그 문서를 보았는지에 대한 지난해 질문에 대해 답변하지 않았다. 퇴역 장성인 루이트 칼데라는 AP통신에 조사관들이 그것을 놓쳤을 지도 모른다고 이야기하였다.
After South Korea asked for more information, however, the Pentagon acknowledged to the Seoul government that it examined Muccio's letter in 2000 but dismissed it. It did so because the letter "outlined a proposed policy," not an approved one, Army spokesman Paul Boyce argues in a recent e-mail to the AP.
그러나, 한국정부가 더 많은 정보를 요구하자, 펜타곤은 한국정부에 2000년에 무치오의 편지를 조사하였으나 제외시켰다고 시인했다. 그 편지는 승인된 정책이 아닌 "제안된 정책"의 윤곽만을 서술하였기 때문에 그렇게 하였다고 미육군대변인 폴 보이스는 AP통신과의 최근 e메일에서 주장하였다.
But Muccio's message to Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk states unambiguously that "decisions made" at a high-level U.S.-South Korean meeting in Taegu, South Korea, on July 25, 1950, included a policy to shoot approaching refugees. The reason: American commanders feared that disguised North Korean enemy troops were infiltrating their lines via refugee groups.
하지만 미국무부 차관 딘 러스크에게로 가는 무치오의 메세지는 대구에서의 미-한 고위회담에서 "결정된 것(decisions made)"이라고 모호하지 않게 언급하고 있다.
"If refugees do appear from north of US lines they will receive warning shots, and if they then persist in advancing they will be shot," the ambassador told Rusk, cautioning that these shootings might cause "repercussions in the United States." Deliberately attacking noncombatants is a war crime.
"만약 피난민들이 미군 방어선의 북쪽방향에서 나타났다면 그들은 경고사격을 받았을 것이고, 만약 그 다음에도 계속 전진했다면 그들은 총격을 받았을 것입니다"라고 하였고, 이러한 총격은 미국내에서 반향을 일으킬 것이라고 주의환기시키며 대사는 러스크에게 이야기하였다.
Told of the Pentagon's rationale for excluding the Muccio letter from its investigative report, No Gun Ri expert Yi Mahn-yol, retired head of Seoul's National Institute of Korean History, suggested the letter was suppressed cause it was "disadvantageous" to the Pentagon's case.
펜타곤의 조사보고서에서 무치오대사의 편지를 배제시켰다는 펜타곤의 입장을 들은 전직 국립국사학회장이었던 이만열씨는 그 편지가 펜타곤의 입장에 "불리하였기" 때문에 은폐된 것이라고 추측하였다.
"If they set it aside as nothing significant, we can say that it was an intentional exclusion," he said.
"만약 그들이 그 편지를 중요하지 않은 것으로 여겨 치워 놓았다면 우리는 그것이 고의적인 배제였을 것이라고 이야기할 수 있습니다"라고 그는 말했다.
Conway-Lanz called the Pentagon's explanation "thoroughly unconvincing."
콘웨이 란즈는 펜타곤의 설명을 "전적으로 납득할 수 없는 것" 이라고 하였다.
"The Muccio letter in plain English says, 'Decisions were made,'" the historian noted.
"평이한 영어로 쓰인 무치오대사의 편지는 '결정은 내려졌다'라고 이야기 합니다"라고 역사가는 서술하였다.
No Gun Ri survivors said U.S. soldiers first forced them from nearby villages on July 25, 1950, and then stopped them in front of U.S. lines the next day, when they were attacked without warning by aircraft as hundreds sat atop a railroad embankment near No Gun Ri, a village in central South Korea. Troops of the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment followed with ground fire as survivors took shelter in twin underpasses of a concrete railroad bridge.
The killings remained hidden from history until an AP report in 1999 cited a dozen ex-soldiers who corroborated the Korean survivors' accounts, prompting the Pentagon to open its inquiry after years of dismissing the allegations.
The Army veterans' estimates of dead ranged from under 100 to "hundreds." Korean survivors say they believe about 400 were killed. Korean authorities have certified the identities of at least 163 dead or missing.
No Gun Ri, where no evidence emerged of enemy infiltrators, was not the only such incident. As 1950 wore on, U.S. commanders repeatedly ordered refugees shot, according to declassified documents obtained by the AP.
적군 침입자가 있었다는 어떠한 증거도 없는 노근리는 이러한 사건의 유일한 경우는 아니었다. AP통신에 의해 입수된 비밀해제문서에 의하면 1950년이 지나면서 미군 지휘관들은 반복적으로 피난민 총격을 명령했다.
One incident, on Sept. 1, 1950, has been confirmed by the declassified official diary of the USS DeHaven, which says that the Navy destroyer, at Army insistence, fired on a seaside refugee encampment at Pohang, South Korea. Survivors say 100 to 200 people were killed. South Korean officials announced in February they would investigate.
More than a dozen documents -- in which high-ranking U.S. officers tell troops that refugees are "fair game," for example, and order them to "shoot all refugees coming across river" -- were found by the AP in the investigators' own archived files after the 2001 inquiry. None of those documents was disclosed in the Army's 300-page public report.
South Koreans have filed reports with their government of more than 60 such episodes during the 1950-53 war.
Despite this, the Army's e-mail to the AP maintains, as did the 2001 report, "No policy purporting to authorize soldiers to shoot refugees was ever promulgated to soldiers in the field."
The 2001 official report instead focused on a single document issued the day the No Gun Ri shootings began, a Korea-wide Army order saying refugees should be stopped from crossing U.S. lines. That order did not say how they should be stopped, but retired Army Col. Robert M. Carroll, a lieutenant at No Gun Ri, said the meaning was clear.
"What do you do when you're told nobody comes through?" Carroll said in an AP interview before his death in 2004. If they didn't stop, he said, "we had to shoot them to hold them back."
"당신이 (상관으로부터) 아무도 못지나가게 하라는 말을 들었을 때 당신은 어떻게 하시겠습니까?" 캐롤은 2004년 그의 사망 전 AP통신과의 인터뷰에서 이렇게 말했다. 만약 그들이 멈추지 않았다면, 그는 이렇게 말한다 "우리는 그들을 묶어놓기 위해 그들에게 총격을 가해야만 했습니다"
Other ex-soldier eyewitnesses, including headquarters radiomen, told the AP that orders came down to the 7th Cavalry's 2nd Battalion command post, and were relayed through front-line companies at No Gun Ri, to open fire on the mass of village families, baggage and farm animals.
지휘본부 무전병을 포함한 퇴역군인 목격자들은 명령이 제7보병연대 2대대 지휘본부로 내려왔고, 군집한 마을주민들과 짐꾸러미 그리고 가축들에게 발포하도록 노근리를 맡고 있는 최전방부대로 전달되었다고 AP통신에 이야기 하였다.
Such communications would have been recorded in the 7th Cavalry Regiment's journal, but that log is missing without explanation from the National Archives. Without disclosing this crucial gap, the Army's 2001 report asserted there were no such orders. It suggested soldiers shot the refugees in a panic, questioned estimates of hundreds of dead, and absolved the U.S. military of liability.
이러한 교전내용은 제7보병연대 일지에 기록됐을 것이다. 하지만 그 기록은 국립문서보관서에서 아무런 설명없이 누락되었다. 이러한 중요한 누락을 밝히지 않고, 미육군의 2001년 보고서는 그러한 명령은 없었다고 주장하였다. 보고서에 의하면 구인들은 공황상태에 빠져 피난민들에게 총격을 가했을 것이라고 주장하며 수백명의 사망자 추정치에 의문을 표하면서 미군의 책임을 사하여주었다.
The Army report didn't disclose that veterans told Army investigators of "kill" orders, of seeing stacks of dead at No Gun Ri, and of earlier documentation of the killings. Such interview transcripts have been obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests.
미육군보고서는 퇴역군인들이 육군조사관들에게 "사살"명령을 들었다는 사실과 노근리에서 시체더미를 보았다는 사실을 밝히지 않았다. 이러한 인터뷰 내용문은 정보자유법에 의한 요구를 통해 얻어졌다.
· Ex-Air Force pilot Clyde Good, 87, of Melbourne, Fla., told investigators his four-plane mission, under orders, attacked 300-400 refugees in mid-1950 on suspicion the group harbored infiltrators. "I didn't like the idea," he said. "They had some young ones, too. ... kids on the road." A South Korean government report in 2001 said five ex-pilots told Pentagon interviewers of such orders. The U.S. report claimed "all pilots interviewed" knew nothing about such orders.
· The U.S. report said the No Gun Ri shootings weren't documented at the time. It didn't disclose that ex-Army clerk Mac W. Hilliard, 78, of Weed, Calif., testified he remembered typing into the now-missing regimental journal an officer's handwritten report that 300 refugees had been fired on. "If you see 'em, kill 'em" was the general attitude toward civilians, Hilliard told the AP in reaffirming his testimony.
· The Army report said ex-GIs estimating large numbers of dead were using "guesswork," that none got a close-up look. But in a transcript obtained by the AP, ex-soldier Homer Garza told a Pentagon interrogator he was sent on patrol through one underpass and saw heaps of bodies.
"There were probably 200 or 300 civilians there -- babies, old papa-sans," Garza, 73, of Hurst, Texas, said in a subsequent AP interview. Most may have been dead, but it was hard to tell because "they were stacked on top of one another," said Garza, who retired as a command sergeant major, the Army's highest enlisted rank.
In addition, the 2001 report by the Army inspector-general didn't disclose the existence of July 1950 mission reports from the Air Force's 35th Fighter-Bomber Squadron that said pilots attacked apparent refugee groups and struck at or near No Gun Ri on the dates of the killings.
In describing another critical document, a July 25, 1950, memo from the Air Force operations chief in Korea, the Army report dropped its key passage: a paragraph saying pilots, at the Army's request, were strafing refugee groups approaching U.S. lines. The Army report portrayed the strafing as a proposal, not a fact, as the Army now is doing with the Muccio letter.
The Pentagon has told the South Korean government the ambassador's letter, evidence that senior Washington officials knew of a policy to shoot South Korean refugees, does not warrant a reopening of the No Gun Ri investigation.
Seoul accepts that U.S. position, said a South Korean Foreign Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Informed of the Pentagon position, the No Gun Ri survivors issued a statement. "We cannot accept the U.S. Defense Department's false explanation and are indignant over the repeated lies by the U.S. Defense Department," it said.
펜타곤의 입장을 전해들은, 노근리 생존자들은 성명을 발표했다. "우리는 미국방성의 거짓 설명을 받아들일 수 없으며 미국방성에 의한 반복되는 거짓말에 분개하고 있다"라고.
AP Writer Jae-soon Chang in Seoul and AP Investigative Researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report.
Charles J. Hanley and Martha Mendoza are Associated Press writers. This story was published on April 13, 2007. They are the Pulitzer Prize winning authors, with Sang-Hun Choe of The Bridge at No Gun Ri: A Hidden Nightmare From the Korean War.