The Korean War and the Challenge of Civilian Refugees

  • Christi Siver


When North Korean forces invaded South Korea in 1950, the United States quickly deployed forces to aid its ally. These forces immediately faced aggressive North Korean soldiers and fearful civilian refugees. While some U.S. forces balanced these challenges and offered protection for civilians, others targeted and killed civilians; one of the worst incidents was at No Gun Ri. Why did units facing similarly daunting situations react so differently? Many observers blamed the savagery of the North Koreans, the poor readiness of U.S. troops, and weak morale. However, none of these factors could explain why some units protected Korean civilians while others targeted them. After examining training records, efforts to enforce international law, and the subcultures of units deployed, the author finds that units that targeted civilians were not well socialized and lacked unit leaders that could ensure their compliance with the laws of war.


No Gun Ri Civilian killing Refugees Training Leadership 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christi Siver
    • 1
  1. 1.Political Science DepartmentCollege of Saint BenedictCollegevilleUSA

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