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KOREA: From One Source

2 minute read

One day last week, Radio Moscow announced that Russian troops had begun to pull out of North Korea. On the same day, a Communist-inspired revolt broke out in Korea’s southern tip.

The Russian withdrawal in the north worried South Koreans more than did the vest-pocket southern uprising. The Russians were leaving behind them a firmly installed Communist regime with a well-trained army of 150,000. The departure of the Red army was intended to bring pressure on the U.S. to withdraw its troops, leaving a South Korean constabulary and militia totaling about 60,000 to face the far stronger northern force.

Dr. Syngman Rhee, President of the two-month-old South Korean Republic, was in Tokyo visiting Douglas MacArthur at the time. Said MacArthur: “I will defend Korea as I would my own country—just as I would California.”

With MacArthur’s words to encourage them, the South Korean army energetically set about crushing the revolt. It had begun one morning before dawn, when 40 Communist members of a brigade stationed in the far southern port of Yosu shot their officers and bullied their sleepy comrades into attacking the city police station. They took over all of Yosu, then headed north, picking up confused recruits along the way. By the time they reached Sunchon, a city of 75,000, their force had grown to around 2,000.

Brigadier General Song Ho’s loyal troops quickly drove the rebels out of Sunchon, and chased them back into the rough, hilly country to the south. It was hard to tell friend from foe. Both loyal and rebel troops wore U.S. uniforms and carried U.S. weapons. Loyal troops finally put on white armbands. Said young Lieut. Colonel Kang Yung Noon: “What sadness that we had to fire our first bullets against our own brothers.”

At week’s end government forces had retaken most of the territory won by the rebels; they expected to recover Yosu soon. Asked who was responsible for the revolt, President Rhee said: “We really do not know.” Then he pointed a finger to the north and added: “But all of our troubles come from one source.”

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