Dakota Datebook

Korean War Propaganda

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

 

In January of 1953, a bit of propaganda from the Korean War came to North Dakota. The Jamestown Sun published an article, which also appeared in other state newspapers. It began: “It’s a long way from Puncham and Chorwon, Korea to Jamestown and Bergen, North Dakota, or so most easy-going North Dakotans feel. But on the other hand, how many Communists do you think there are in our state? We thought maybe a couple, surely no more. But what started out to be a feature story…has turned out to be shocking realism right at our own back door.”

 

It seemed that a navy recruiting officer out of Jamestown had brought in a propaganda pamphlet that his brother had picked up while on duty in Korea.

It included a note, attributed to a 12-year-old boy from Bergen, in McHenry County. The note stated: “I believe that the Korean War should never have been started. I am only 12 and I don’t want to go to war when I am 18 … One reason I wouldn’t want to go to war is that I don’t feel that I am defending my country. I would only be killing other young men and innocent women and children for the defense of American monopolies … I think this war should be ended right here and now!”

 

No one at the Jamestown Sun believed this was a real person. However, under investigation, it turned out a family by the same name did live in McHenry County, and a furtive conversation with an unnamed member of the community left them “shocked—in true Pearl Harbor fashion”—as the informant claimed the whole family was believed to be “avowed communists.”

 

On this date, the father of the family sent the author of the newspaper article an open letter, which was published in the Anamoose Progress. He claimed the article on his family was slanderous. As it turns out, the note had been published first in the National Guardian of New York, and from there had been picked up and used for propaganda by the Koreans.

 

He wrote:

 

“You insinuate that my boy conspired somehow to get his letter into this leaflet. By your wild conjectures and your insinuations you contribute to the unhealthy, hysterical insanity of our times. You project the blind name calling and character assassination which is being indulged in from local up through national levels.”

 

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker

 

Sources:

The Anamoose Progress, Thursday, Jan. 15, 1953

The Anamoose Progress, Thursday, January 29, 1953

 

 

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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