Intelligence & the Korean War

I - Z

Laurie, Clayton D.

1. "The Invisible Hand of the New Look." In Forging the Shield: Eisenhower and National Security for the Twenty-first Century, ed. Dennis E. Showalter, 93-110. Chicago, IL: Imprint Publications, 2005.

2. "A New President, a Better CIA, and an Old War: Eisenhower and Intelligence Reporting on Korea, 1953." Studies in Intelligence 54, no. 4 (Dec. 2010): 15-22.

"In both Eisenhower's larger foreign policy focus and in the waning months of the Korean War, the Central Intelligence Agency played a larger role than it ever had before in its short life."

Malcom, Ben S. [COL/USA (Ret.)], with Ron Martz. White Tigers: My Secret War in North Korea. Washington, DC: Brassey's, 1995.

The reviewer at notes that this book "is about N[orth] Korean nationalists ... waging covert actions - espionage, sabotage and guerrilla war - against their fellow N[orth] Koreans." The guerrillas were organized by the U.S. 8th Army 8240th Unit, and operated out of Paengnyong Island. The Korean units "more or less ran their covert actions without direct American involvement," although Malcom claims to have gone on a raid onto the North Korean mainland. Malcom also "gives a brief summary of the covert actions by the 8th Army, US Air Force (NICK) and CIA (JACK)."

Millett, Allan R. The Korean War: The Essential Bibliography. Dulles, VA: Potomac, 2007.

Deaile, "Anyone seeking to do research into the Korean War or interested in the state of the current scholarship on the conflict will find Millett's work loaded with a wealth of information. In addition to the bibliographical references, The Korean War lists numerous Web sites and sources of information on the Internet. This work would be an incredible addition to any personal or professional library."

Milmore, John. #1 Code Break Boy: Communications Intelligence in the Korean War. Haverford, PA: Infinity Publishing, 2002.

Kruh, Cryptologia 28.1, notes that the author served from 1949 as a cryptanalysis technician in "the cryptanalysis section of the Operations Branch, HQ, ASA-Pacific" in Tokyo. When he "sticks to codebreaking and related details in the Korean War," Milmore "provides one of the best accounts on cryptology in the Korean War."

Mobley, Richard A. "North Korea's Surprise Attack: Weak U.S. Analysis?" International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 13, no. 4 (Winter 2000): 490-414.

"The preeminent culprit [of the lack of warning by U.S. intelligence] is a failure of collection.... [M]any of Pyongyang's final attack preparations simply went undetected."

Nicholas, Jack D. "The Element of Surprise in Modern Warfare." Air University Quarterly 8 (Summer 1956): 3-20.

Nichols, Donald. How Many Times Can I Die? Brooksville, FL: Brooksville Printing, 1981.

The author led numerous special operations activities for the 5th Air Force in Korea. See Michael E. Haas [COL/USAF (Ret.)], Apollo's Warriors: U.S. Air Force Special Operations During the Cold War (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 1997), 53-65.

Paschall, Rod. "Special Operations in Korea." Conflict 7, no. 2 (1988): 155-178.

Pease, Stephen E. PSYWAR: Psychological Warfare in Korea, 1950-1953. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1992.

Surveillant 3.1 calls PSYWAR "comprehensively presented" and "eminently readable."

Rose, P.K. [Pseud., Kenneth A. Daigler] "Two Strategic Intelligence Mistakes in Korea, 1950." Studies in Intelligence 11 (Fall-Winter 2001): 57-65.

The failure to correctly predict, first, the North Korean invasion and, then, the Chinese attack, when all reports indicated that in each instance the capability existed, was rooted in perceptions in Washington that only the Soviet Union could order such acts, and Stalin would not do so.

Thomas J. Patton, "Commentary on 'Two Strategic Intelligence Mistakes in Korea, 1950': A Personal Perspective," Studies in Intelligence 46, no. 3 (2002): 81-83, finds that Rose's article is "somewhat unbalanced and incomplete, and an injustice to analytic personnel of the early 1950s.... [A] current reader of the Rose study might assume that all the information he describes and lists so thoroughly was available fairly promptly and on a fairly universal basis within the Agency. Such was not the case.".

Schmitt, John F. [MAJ/USMCR] "What Is an Intelligence Failure? A Case Study of Korea, 1950." Marine Corps Gazette, Oct. 1997, 60-65.

The author concludes that the two major surprises of the Korean War -- the initial North Korean attack and the Chinese entry into the war -- "were less intelligence failures than operational failures and, especially, failures of command. Dramatic surprise was the result of the decision by authorities to discount the recognized possibility of hostile action."

Schnabel, James F. Policy and Direction: The First Year. United States Army in the Korean War Series, U.S. Army Center of Military History. Washington, DC: GPO, 1972.

As one of the U.S. Army official histories of the Korean War War [see also, Appleman, Disaster in Korea (1989) and Hermes, Truce Tent and Fighting Front (1966)], the focus of this work is not on intelligence; but intelligence issues are addressed within the broader context of coverage of the war.

Stack, Kevin P.

1. [CAPT/USMCR] "The Role of Intelligence at Inchon." Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly 14, no. 1 (Jan. 1998): 7-10.

Without denigrating the value of MacArthur's leadership to the victory that Inchon represents, the author offers some thoughts on the "vital role" that intelligence played in the planning process for that bold amphibious landing. Intelligence on the "terrain, weather conditions, and enemy activities played a key role in critical operational and tactical decisions." Despite an undervaluation of the role of national-level intelligence, Stack supports his conclusion that "intelligence analysis in support of the Inchon landing was highly effective and had direct operational payoff."

2. [MAJ/USMCR] "Intel Cinches Inchon." U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Sep. 2000, 66-69.

See above.

Temple, Harry. "Deaf Captains: Intelligence, Policy, and the Origins of the Korean War." International Studies Notes 8, no. 3-4 (Fall-Winter 1981-1982): 19-23.

Calder: Discusses NSC-68 and "its impact on developments leading to the Korean War."

Turner, Robert F. "Truman Didn't 'Ignore Congress' on Korean War: Declassified 'Top Secret' Revelations." National Security Law Report 16, no. 9 (Sep. 1994): 1-6.

Turner seeks to revise the "conventional wisdom" based on a "collection of ... State Department documents, reprinted in Volume VII (Korea) in the series, Foreign Relations of the United States since 1950." The documents are the "record of ... key meetings in the form of memoranda prepared by Ambassador at Large Philip C. Jessup."

Unsinger, Peter C. "Three Intelligence Blunders in Korea." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 3, no. 4 (Winter 1989): 549-561.

In addition to the well-established intelligence failures of the Korean War -- the failures to predict the North Korean invasion and China's entry into the war -- the author briefly discusses "Third Force" covert activities directed from Taiwan against the PRC as a third "blunder."

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Baptism By Fire: CIA Analysis of the Korean War Overview, at:

"This collection includes more than 1,300 documents consisting of national estimates, intelligence memo, daily updates, and summaries of foreign media concerning developments on the Korean Peninsula during 1947-1954.... The release of these documents is in conjunction with the conference, 'New Documents and New Histories: Twenty-First Century Perspectives on the Korean War,' co-hosted by the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and the CIA in Independence, Missouri."

Weadon, Patrick D. SIGINT and COMSEC Help Save the Day at Pusan. Ft. George G. Meade, MD: National Security Agency, Center for Cryptologic History, [n.d.]. []

The lack of resources made Gen. Walton H. Walker's task of holding the Pusan perimeter difficult, but "information from SIGINT proved to be a great equalizer. From the beginning of the siege, Walker had been provided with ... the exact locations of North Korean positions and detailed information on enemy airfields and general enemy air strength." During the crucial period from the end of August 1950, "Walker continued to frantically shuttle his units from one embattled location to another. Aiding him in this desperate situation were detailed enemy intercepts that provided crucial information on the North Korean Army's capabilities and plans."

Weiner, Tim. "Hoover Planned Mass Jailing in 1950." New York Times, 23 Dec. 2007. []

According to a collection of cold-war documents declassified on 21 December 2007, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover "had a plan to suspend habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans he suspected of disloyalty. Hoover sent his plan to the White House on July 7, 1950, 12 days after the Korean War began." The names of the individuals to be arrested "were part of an index that Hoover had been compiling for years. 'The index now contains approximately twelve thousand individuals, of which approximately ninety-seven per cent are citizens of the United States,' he wrote."

Yi Chang-gon. KLO ui Hangukchon Pisa [Secret History of the KLO in the Korean War]. Seoul: Jisungsa, 2005.

Mercado, Studies 56.1 (Mar. 2012), notes that this book "is a collection of war stories from survivors" of the covert wartime Korean Liaison Office (KLO). The book has three main parts: the memoirs of Choe Kyu-bong, a former KLO operations commander; brief recollections of two dozen veterans; and Yi's story. "The KLO's wartime feats included preparing the way for the remarkable US amphibious assault at Inchon.... The book offers glimpses of other wartime operations as well" and "abounds in details on the covert war in Korea."

Return to 1950s Table of Contents