Editorial Note

The continuing unrest in the United Nations prisoner of war camps erupted into major violence once again on December 14, 1952. Civilian internees of Pongam-do compound, located on a tiny, hilly island of the same name not far from Koje-do, refused to discontinue military drilling in defiance of United Nations Command orders. A Republic of Korea security battalion was sent in to break up the demonstration. They fired on prisoners who were atop a hill, some in three lines with arms locked to form a human shield for others who were hurling rocks and debris on the security troops. When the firing stopped, 85 prisoners were killed and 113 were hospitalized, while only 4 Republic of Korea personnel were seriously wounded. Regarding this incident, see Hermes, Truce Tent and Fighting Front, pages 405–407; a detailed account of the incident made available to the Department of State by the UNC for briefing purposes is located in FE files, lot 55 D 128.

In a letter dated December 20, 1952, the Soviet Union successfully requested that the General Committee of the General Assembly recommend inclusion on its agenda of an item, entitled “The mass murder of Korean and Chinese prisoners of war by United States military authorities on the island of Pongam-do” before the suspension of the work of the session. On December 22, the Assembly considered the item and an accompanying draft resolution by the Soviet Union and then rejected it by a vote of 45 to 5 with 10 abstentions. For Ambassador Jessup’s statement [Page 713] in conjunction with the incident made before the First Committee and for the statement of Ambassador Gross before the General Assembly, see Department of State Bulletin, January 5, 1953, pages 16–20.