Images of War Korea The Ground War From Both Sides, Philip Chinnery

Images of War Korea The Ground War From Both Sides, Philip Chinnery

This entry in the Images of War series looks at the ground fighting during the Korean War, with pictures mainly from UN and Chinese sources, showing a wide range of topics. Most of the book looks at the early war of movement, starting with the period of North Korean victory, where the South Korean and UN forces were pushed back to the south-eastern corner of the country. We then cover the US fight back and the advance to the Chinese border, the initial Chinese entry into the war and the US retreat from North Korea. The fourth and final chapter looks at the two years of static warfare that the conflict is perhaps best known for. This choose of emphasis means that we see many unfamiliar topics rather than the better known images of warfare on the 38th Parallel.

The pictures from Chinese sources are almost all posed (especially the pictures shows combat although one or two do look genuine) or congratulatory (cheering soldiers before an attack, cheering soldiers on a captured tank etc). On the UN side there are of course many staged photos, but a much higher proportion of snapshots (plenty of pictures of damaged UN tanks for instance).

Both sides committed atrocities during the Korean War, and both sets are documented. On the UN side there is actually a picture of South Korean soldiers executing political prisoners during periods of North Korean and Chinese advance, and a discussion of some of the other accusations. The more tightly controlled Chinese photos don't include such incriminatory evidence, but there are plenty of UN photos showing murdered soldiers found after an advance.

The pictures are supported by good clear chapter introductions that trace the course of the fighting, and by accurate captions written specifically for the photos (avoiding the danger of using chunks of the chapter introductions for this purpose).

This is an excellent entry in the Images of War series and a good photographic guide to the Korean War, illuminating the first major conflict after the end of the Second World War.

1 - On the Verge of Defeat
2 - The Chinese Cross the Yalu
3 - The Great Bug Out
4 - The Long Road to an Armistice

Author: Philip Chinnery
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 144
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2013

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