After a very long wait considering the No Gun Ri movie was filmed in 2006, it is finally being released and as expected the director Lee Sang-woo is doing everything he can to spread the anti-US mythology surrounding the tragedy that happened at No Gun Ri:
The Marmot has the movie trailer posted over at his site for everyone to check out, but here is what I have to wonder if Lee bothered to inform viewers watching the movie of these relevant facts surrounding the No Gun Ri issue:
- Out of the original 12 American witnesses quoted in the Pulitzer Prize winning Associated Press article that the only 4 GI’s that fully confirmed the AP’s account of what happened were later proven to not be there, the 4 more were intentionally misquoted by the AP, 1 veteran’s testimony is inconsistent and suspect, and the other 3 said no massacre occurred at No Gun Ri.
- The forensic evidence does not support the claims of a massacre of 400 people. What the forensic evidence does support is the presence of enemy weapons at the bridge.
- The aerial imagery evidence does not support the claims of a massacre of 400 people.
- The historical documents do not even support the claims of a massacre of 400 people at No Gun Ri.
- Here is probably the most telling fact, that despite intensive searches of the No Gun Ri area not one bone was ever found despite supposedly 400 people being killed there. To further put this into perspective other areas where far less people were killed during the Korean War extensive skeletal remains were found, but not a No Gun Ri.
There are plenty of more facts that totally debunk the established mythology about what happened at No Gun Ri that I think judging by the movie poster I doubt director Lee Sang-woo informs viewers of any of this. Speaking of the movie poster Extra Korea! makes a very good observation of how the No Gun Ri movie poster is very similar to a North Korea propaganda poster.
What is most ironic about the No Gun Ri issue is that we already know what happened there that tragic day in July 1950 if people bothered to listen to veterans who were actually there instead of those who were not. What really happened at No Gun Ri is best summarized by the account given by Buddy Wenzel who the AP for some reason did not include in their article. This is what Wenzel had to say about what happened at No Gun Ri that day:
The civilians started coming down the railroad tracks, on paths on both sides of the tracks… The front ones, there were like maybe 15 or 20 of them, and they were getting thicker beyond that. Somebody said, “Fire over their heads for a warning.” … I got out of my hole with about 30 other guys; we all had M-1s. Now, we had one machine gun up on the railroad tracks and another air cooled machine gun on the right. Well when we fired over their heads they panicked. … That’s when some of them started to run towards us. We were firing over them all this time.
Then somebody yelled, “We’re being fired at,” then there was a bunch that started shooting into the refugees … This all happened in a minute, but it all came out when we panicked ‘cause we thought we were getting shot at.
There was a lieutenant that was running down to that group I was with. I saw this little girl that was sort of in front, she was maybe four or five years old and she was coming down the track I shot towards her and she fell. Well, this lieutenant ran out there and picked up this little girl. Why … I can’t tell you. That’s why the lieutenant was yelling, “Cease fire,” and he was running. She was out there in front, by herself, and flailing here arms and throwing her arms down.
After the cease-fire I stayed where I was, maybe 10-15 yards from the track, and maybe six or eight guys went down the tracks from the group that I was with, and a few went down from on top of the tracks. One of the guys went down there and searched a few of the bodies, he … found a body with a burp gun, and he yelled, “Here’s the goddamned gun,” and he held it straight up and slammed it down on the tracks.
It is pretty clear that a tragedy did happen that day at No Gun Ri but it was not the “Korean My Lai” the AP journalists were so eager to create. The fact of the matter is that you had GI’s that were on the retreat and wary of North Korean infiltrators who fired warning shots over the top of the refugees in order to prevent them from advancing toward their frontline. This firing over the refugees was probably interpreted by the gunmen within the column as being directed towards them and they fired back which ended up causing US soldiers to fire directly into the refugee column.
Other veteran witness statements, Soviet shell casings found underneath the bridge, unit supply records showing Soviet weapons turned into the 7th Cavalry supply personnel, and prior documented instances of civilian clothed guerrilla fighters engaging US troops makes for a strong case that there were gunmen within the refugee column. These gunmen were likely South Korean communist guerrillas because before the Korean War began the Yongdong area of South Korea was a known communist guerrilla hide out. US veteran witnesses who were proven to be at No Gun Ri say the gun men they found dead underneath the bridge wore no uniforms. These veterans also say that the number of refugees killed underneath the bridge from the brief firing numbered to about 4-9 killed with more wounded. It is impossible to know, but some of those wounded could have died later on increasing the death toll. Determining the exact death toll is impossible but it is not the 400 or simply “hundreds” as the AP claims. Additionally the inability to find any remains at the site only further confirms the much lower death toll.
Yes it was a tragedy what happened but the circumstances, motivations, and the numbers dead are vastly different from the narrative that Lee Sang-woo wants people to believe with his movie. I mentioned this over at the Marmot’s Hole, but what I find most detestable about this movie was that Lee intentionally waited until the 60th anniversary of the Korean War to release it instead of releasing it 4 years ago when he completed the movie. He had to have known that ceremonies and other commemorative events would be held to honor returning Korean War veterans and he went out of his way to slime them with this movie filled with lies.