The United States Information Service in Korea (USIS) initiated the consolidation psychological warfare primarily on the Republic of Korea (ROK) people, since the start of the War until the Armistice was concluded. The reason that made such psychological warfare activities possible was that the USIS was a propaganda institution originally aimed at Koreans. This paper examines propaganda and psychological warfare policies of the USIS by dividing the time line into three. The conclusion can be summarized as follows.
To begin with, policies of the USIS can be divided into three phases; launching psychological warfare in the beginning of the Korean War(1950. 6~ 1951. 5), managing both the restoration of ordinary activity and psychological warfare(1951. 6~1952. 12), and preparing for the cease-fire and its aftermath (1953. 1~7).
Second, as the War broke out, it initiated psychological warfare in order to elate morale of the ROK Armed Forces and Korean people, and to bring on cooperation by arousing a sense of solidarity in two. Despite of the fact that activities on armies of the USIS were dramatically reduced as the United Nations Command(UNC) and the Eighth United States Army(EUSA) completed arrangements for psychological warfare, the US Government gradually restored its ordinary tasks such as policy propaganda and spread of cultures.
Third, in the middle of 1951, as the policy of war in the US changed to a limited war and armistice negotiation took place, the policies and activities of the USIS also greatly changed. The priority of its objective became spreading conviction to Koreans on the ultimate aim of the US policies on Korea, which was that ‘the shared policies of the US and UN on Korea is to create unified, independent, and democratic Korea’. Thus, it quickly restored and strengthened ordinary propaganda activities of normal times. The mission to persuade Koreans that are opposed to the armistice was also important. Military propaganda activities were no more than supporting suppression of guerrillas in Jiri Mountain or providing educational materials for war prisoners. Particularly, it propagated aid and reconstruction projects of the UN institutions such as the UNCACK and provided propaganda materials for them.
Fourth, as the armistice negotiation proceeded quickly for reaching an agreement after April, 1953, the policies of the USIS also focused on preparing for aftermath of the cease-fire, restoration of war-torn country, and post-war reconstructions. Moreover, persuading Korean Government and Koreans who were still in opposition to the cease-fire of that this is the only way to bring peace was crucial. Also assuring them of the promise to secure Koreans from the threat of communism and to support Korea with its reunification policy took a big part in the propaganda program.
Next, the State Department, which was in charge of overseas propaganda policies, recognized propaganda activities of the USIS were unprecedented in that they were initiated during the War. It struggled for leadership with military officers including the UNC, but could not reach beyond the principle that war theater commander was responsible for operation of psychological warfare. Within the same context, the USIS that stood against an institution under the UNC failed to win the leadership in activities for propagating aid and reconstruction. Eventually, it ended up providing propaganda materials.
Furthermore, the State Department and USIS produced and supplied materials not only about the victory of the UN Forces but also about Communist Forces’ acts of destruction with brutality, and delusion of communism. As a result, the Korean War stood out as the first of its kind in which collective security under the command of UN cleared out communists’ invasion. And Korea was widely known as the bastion of anti-communism.
Last, among the ordinary activities the USIS gradually resumed, the program of financially supporting and staying in contact closely with representative figures of various fields such as educational and cultural spheres was noteworthy. The program was launched under the intention of reaching out for prominent figures of Korean society to establish the US influence on them let alone propagating the US policies and cultures.