In the Central Mountains and on the East Coast

He supposes all men to be brave at all times and does not realize that the courage of the troops must be reborn daily, that nothing is so variable, and that the true skill of a general consists in knowing how to guarantee it by his dispositions, his positions, and those traits of genius that characterize great captains.

MAURICE DE SAXE. Reveries on the Art of War

Eastward, In the central mountains of Korea, aerial observation on 8 July, the day Ch'onan fell, showed that enemy armor, truck, and infantry columns were moving south and were already below Wonju. This led to speculation at the Far East Command that the North Koreans were engaged in a wide envelopment designed to cut the main north-south line of communications in the Taejon area. [1] South of the Han River only one enemy division, the 6th, initially was west of the Seoul-Pusan highway.

The area defended by the ROK Army after American troops of the U.S. 24th Division entered action on 5 July was everything east of the main Seoul-Taegu railroad and highway. In the mountainous central part of Korea there are two main north-south axes of travel and communication. The firs, from the west, is the Wonju-Ch'ungju-Mun'gyong-Kumch'on corridor running almost due south from Wonju. The second, farther east, is the Wonju-Chech'on-Tanyang-Yongju-Andong-Uisong-Yongch'on corridor slanting southeast from Wonju.

The critical military terrain of both corridors is the high watershed of a spur range which runs southwest from the east coastal range and separates the upper Han River on the north from the upper Naktong on the south. Both rivers have their sources in the western slope of the Taeback Range, about twenty miles from the Sea of Japan. The Han River flows south for forty miles, then turns generally northwest to empty into the Yellow Sea; the Naktong flows first south, then west, then again south to empty into the Korea Strait. Mun'gyong is at the pass on the first corridor over the high plateau of this dividing watershed. Tanyang is on the south side of the upper Han and at the head of the

[1] Telecon TT3486, FEC with Washington, 8 Jul 50.


long, narrow pass through the watershed on the second corridor.

On the south side of this watershed, and situated generally at its base, from southwest to northeast are the towns of Sangju, Hamch'ang, Yech'on, and Yongju in the valley of the Naktong. Once these points were reached, enemy units could turn down that valley for a converging attack on Taegu. Or, the more eastern units could cross the relatively wide valley of the Naktong to enter another east-west spur range of the southern Taebaeks at a number of points-the most important being Andong-and cut across to the east-west corridor between Taegu and P'ohang-dong and the Kyongju corridor leading south to Pusan.

After the initial success of the North Korean Army in driving ROK forces from their 38th Parallel positions, the South Koreans east of the U.S. 24th Division were badly disorganized and fighting separate regimental and division actions. In the first part of July the ROK Army was generally disposed from west to east as follows: 17th Regiment, 2d, Capital, 6th, and 8th Divisions, and the 23d Regiment of the 3d Division.

The North Korean Army advanced southward on a wide front. (Map 5) The N.K. 1st Division followed the 4th and the 3d south out of Seoul, but then turned off on the next major road east of the Seoul-Pusan highway. This led through Ich'on and Umsong. Ahead of it was the N.K. 2d Division which had moved westward to this road after the fall of Ch'unch'on. At Ich'on, ROK forces cut off an enemy regiment and destroyed or captured many mortars and several pieces of artillery. Farther west on the Yongin road another enemy regiment suffered heavy casualties at the same time, on or about 5 July, the day of Task Force Smith's fight at Osan. After these actions, the N.K. 1st Division left the path of the 2d and slanted southeast toward Ch'ungju. This left the 2d the first division east of U.S. 24th Division troops on the Seoul-Taejon highway and in a position to join with the N.K. 4th and 3d Divisions in a converging attack on Taejon.

Despite losses and low morale among its troops, officers drove the 2d Division southward toward Chinch'on, twenty miles east of Ch'onan. There on 9 July, one day after Ch'onan had fallen, the ROK Capital Division and South Korean police ambushed one of its battalions capturing four pieces of artillery and twenty-seven vehicles. This began a three-day battle between the enemy division and the ROK Capital Division. The ROK's withdrew on 11 July after other enemy divisions had outflanked them on the west by the capture of Ch'onan and Chonui. The N.K. 2d Division, exhausted and depleted by heavy casualties, then entered Chinch'on. Despite its condition, its commander allowed it no rest and drove it on toward Ch'ongju, headquarters of the ROK I Corps. At the edge of the town, ROK artillery took it under fire and inflicted another estimated 800 casualties. Only when the ROK troops at Ch'ongju were forced to fall back after the U.S. 24th Division, on 12 July, lost Choch'iwon, twelve miles westward, did the enemy division enter the town. [2]

[2] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 106 (N.K. Arty), p. 60 Ibid., 
Issue 94 (N.K. 2d Div), pp. 34-36; 24th Div WD, C-2 Jnl, entry 281, 
091230 Jul 50; Ibid., G-3 Jnl, entry 153, 081605 Jul 50; 24th Div Opns 
Rpt 4, 9 Jul 50; FEC Telecons TT3487, 9 Jul, and TT3489, 10 Jul 50. 


(MAP 5 THE U.S.-ROK FRONT 13 July 1950)

Eastward, the N.K. 7th Division advanced down the mountainous central corridor of Korea after it had helped the 2d Division capture Ch'unch'on in the opening days of the invasion. Retiring slowly in front of it and fighting effectively was the ROK 6th Division. Between Ch'unch'on and Hongch'on, the 6th Division inflicted approximately 400 casualties on the enemy division and knocked out a number of its T34 tanks. From Hongch'on the battle continued on down the road toward Wonju, the action reaching the edge of that rail and road center on or about 2 July. There, the North Korean High Command relieved Maj. Gen. Chon U, commander of the 7th Division, because his division was behind schedule in its advance. At the same time, the North Korean high command redesignated the 7th Division the 12th, and activated a new 7th Division. After the fall of Wonju on or about 5 July, the newly designated 12th Divi-


sion split its forces-part going southeast toward Chech'on, the remainder south toward Ch'ungju. [3]

These enemy operations in the mountainous central part of the peninsula were conducted by Lt. Gen. Kim Kwang Hyop, commanding general of the North Korean II Corps, with headquarters at Hwach'on. On or about 10 July, the North Korean high command relieved him for inefficiency because his corps was several days behind its schedule, replacing him with Lt. Gen. Kim Mu Chong. [4]

Below Wonju, while the ROK 6th Division tried to defend the Ch'ungju corridor, the ROK 8th Division upon arriving from the east coast tried to establish a line to defend the Tanyang corridor, the next one eastward. After seizing Ch'ungju and Chech'on, the N.K. 12th Division converged on Tanyang and on July encountered the ROK 8th Division just north of that village. The N.K. 1st Division, having entered the central sector from the northwest, turned south at Ch'ungju and on the 12th approached positions of the ROK 6th Division just above Mun'gyong. The N.K. 15th Division, meantime, joined the attack after following the 7th Division from Ch'unch'on to Wonju. At Wonju, the 15th veered westward, passed through Yoju, then turned south, clearing the town of Changhowon-ni after a stiff battle with ROK forces. By 12 July, the 15th occupied Koesan, eighteen miles northwest of Mun'gyong.

The ROK 8th Division in its withdrawal from the east coast was supposed to concentrate in the vicinity of Wonju-Chech'on. For several days the ROK Army headquarters had only vague and fragmentary information concerning its location. Eventually, in moving from Tanyang toward Ch'ungju on Army order the division found the enemy blocking its way. Instead of trying to fight through to Ch'ungju or to make a detour, the ROK 8th Division commander decided, in view of the exhaustion of his troops and the time involved in attempting a detour over mountain trails, that he would transfer the division to Ch'ungju by rail on a long haul southward to Yongch'on, thence to and through Taegu. A KMAG adviser found part of the division at Yongch'on, between P'ohang-dong and Taegu; other parts appear to have reached Taegu. The ROK Army issued new orders to the 8th Division which sent it back by rail to the upper Han River area. There on the south side of the upper Han River in the Tanyang area the 8th Division had concentrated by 10 July to defend the Yongju-Andong corridor. [5]

American and ROK strategy and tactics in this part of Korea now centered on holding the Mun'gyong and Tanyang passes of the Han-Naktong watershed. Both offered excellent defensive terrain.

[3] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 99 (N.K. 12th Div), p. 43; 24th 
Div WD, G-2 Jnl, entry 112, 080912 Jul 50; FEC Telecon TT3486, 8 Jul 50;
ATIS Supp, Enemy Documents, Issue 3, p. 62; KMAG G-2 Unit Hist, p. 3, 
copy in OCMH; New York Times, July 9, 1950. 

[4] GHQ FEC, History of the North Korean Army, p.43

[5] FEC Telecons TT3489, 10 Jul, TT3499, 11 Jul, TT3510, 12 Jul, and 
TT3515, 13 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, entry 340, 092400 and G-3 Jnl, 
entry 113, 081615 Jul 50; Interv, Sawyer with Col Kessler (KMAG adviser 
with ROK 8th Div May-Dec 50), 24 Feb 54, copy in OCMH; Gen Paik Sun Yup, 
MS review comments, 8 Jul 58.


The major part of the North Korean Army was striking in a great attack on a wide front against the southern tip of the peninsula. Five divisions moved south over the two mountain corridors; while a sixth followed a western branch of the first corridor, the road from Ch'ongju through Poun to Hwanggan where it entered the Seoul-Taegu highway.

Over the first mountain corridor and across the Mun'gyong plateau came three North Korean divisions, the 1st, 13th, and 15th, supported by the 109th Tank Regiment of the 105th Armored Division. [6] Over the second, or eastern, corridor came two North Korean divisions, the 12th and 8th. In the eastern mountains there were also 2,000-3,000 partisan guerrillas who had landed in the Ulchin area at the beginning of the war with the mission of operating as an advance element to prepare for the easy conquest of that part of South Korea. This group functioned poorly and was a big disappointment to the North Korean Army.

The battles in the mountains between the North and South Koreans in July were often bitter and bloody with losses high on both sides. One of the most critical and protracted of these began about the middle of the month near Mun'gyong between the N.K. 1st Division and the ROK 6th Division for control of the Mun'gyong pass and plateau.

On the next corridor eastward, the N.K. 12th Division carried the main burden of the attack all the way south from the Parallel to the upper Han River. Some of its advanced troops crossed the river on 1e July and the division captured the river crossing at Tanyang on the 14th. The 12th then fought the ROK 8th Division for control of the Tanyang Pass near the village of P'unggi, northwest of Yongju. It outflanked the ROK positions astride the road at Tanyang Pass and forced the 8th Division to withdraw southward. By the middle of July the North Koreans were forcing the Taebaek Mountain passes leading into the valley of the upper Naktong River. [7]

On the east coast along the Sea of Japan the N.K. 5th Division and the 766th Independent Infantry Unit after crossing the 38th Parallel moved south with virtually no opposition. The high and all but trackless Taebaek Range, with almost no lateral routes of communication through it, effectively cut off the east coast of Korea below the 38th Parallel from the rest of the country westward. Geography thus made it an isolated field of operations.

At Kangnung, on the coastal road, twenty miles below the Parallel, the 11th Regiment of the 5th Division swung inland on an 8-day 175-mile march through some of the wildest and roughest country in Korea. It passed through P'yong-ch'ang, Yongwol, and Ch'unyang. At the last place the regiment met and fought a hard battle with elements of the ROK

[6] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 104 (N.K. 13th Div), pp. 60-61; 
Ibid., Issue 3 (N.K. 1st and 15th Divs), pp. 32-33, 42; Ibid., Issue 4 
(105th Armored Div), p. 38; Ibid., Issue 99 (N.K. 12th Div), pp. 44-45; 
ATIS Supp, Enemy Documents, Issue 38, pp. 31-33, notebook of Maj Kim Hak 
Son, 12th Div. 

[7] FEC Telecons TT3489, 10 Jul, TT3499, 11 Jul, TT3510, 13 Jul, TT3514, 
13 Jul, TT3518, 14 Jul, and TT3526, 15 Jul 50; ATIS Supp, Enemy 
Documents, Issue 3, p. 72; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 3 (N.K. 
1st Div.), pp. 32-33.


8th Division which were withdrawing inland to the Tanyang area. [8] The regiment then turned east and joined the rest of the division at Ulchin on the coast on or about 10 July. In this arduous march through and along the mountains bordering the east coast, the N.K. 5th Division lost from all causes about 1,800 men.

Meanwhile, the North Koreans succeeded in landing amphibiously a large party of civilians at Ulchin. They had been specially trained at P'yongyang to take charge of the civil government in this eastern province. When it reached Ulchin, the 766th Independent Infantry Unit separated from the 5th Division and started westward into the mountains with the mission, as reported by prisoners, of infiltrating southward in small units and cutting communications between Pusan and Taegu.

One of the enemy's major tactical mistakes of the Korean War was failure to press rapidly south on the east coastal road after crossing the Parallel. By sending strong reconnaissance parties out into the wild and rugged mountains inland from the coast to make sure its rear would not be threatened, the N.K. 5th Division dissipated some of its strength and lost valuable time. There seems little doubt that had it pressed south with all possible speed and effort the division could have been in P'ohang-dong within two weeks after the war began and thus have turned, on this flank, the entire ROK and American line across the peninsula. Once in P'ohang-dong it would have been in a position to advance directly on Pusan.

After the ROK 8th Division withdrew inland the only troops on the east coast to oppose the enemy were the ROK 23d Regiment of the 3d Division. Col. Kim Chong Won, better known as "Tiger Kim," an unusually big and strong man for a Korean, commanded this regiment. The regiment went into action against Communist guerrillas in the vicinity of Ulchin and P'yonghae-ri in early July. Beginning on 10 July it engaged the N.K. 5th Division in battle on the coastal road in the vicinity of P'yonghae-ri. From this time on through July there was hard fighting on the coastal road for control of Yongdok and the northern approaches to P'ohang-dong. [9]

General MacArthur was aware of the enemy division advancing down the coastal road, and he knew that unless halted it would constitute, a grave menace. On 7 July, he ordered General Dean to halt hostile troops moving south along the east coast near Yongdok, and instructed him to provide security for Col. Robert Witty and his 35th Fighter Group at the air base being established at Yonil, five miles south of P'ohang-dong. Pursuant to these instructions, General Dean ordered the 3d Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, then assembling at Taegu, to proceed to P'ohang-dong, where it arrived on 8 July. By 9 July an antiaircraft company also was at P'ohang-dong and heavy engineering equipment was en route by LST to im-

[8] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 96 (N.K.  5th Div), pp. 39-41; 
25th Div WD. G-2 Jnl, entry  125, 081025 Jul 50; DA Wkly Intel Rpt 72, 7 
Jul 50, p. 19; ADCOM G-3 Log, 4 Jul 50; Interv, author with Emmerich, 5 
Dec 51.

[9] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 46 (N.K. 5th Div), p. 41.


prove and extend the Yonil air strip by 3,000 feet. [10]

Reports of strong unidentified enemy or guerrilla forces moving south along the Taebaek Range now reached the ROK Army and 24th Division headquarters. They assumed that these forces intended to attack P'ohang-dong in conjunction with the main enemy force moving down the coastal road.

Colonel "Tiger Kim," feeling the force of the N.K. 5th Division for the first time, requested that he be sent reinforcements. Colonel Emmerich, senior KMAG adviser with the ROK 3d Division, in turn requested that the ROK Army release immediately the ROK 1st Separate Battalion and the Yongdungp'o Separate Battalion from their antiguerrilla operations in the Chiri Mountains of southwest Korea. This was granted and the two battalions, numbering about 1,500 men armed with Japanese rifles and carbines, moved by rail and motor transport to the east coast. [11]

Meanwhile, Capt. Harold Slater, KMAG adviser with the ROK 23d Regiment, sent to Colonel Emmerich at Taegu a radio message that the ROK situation near P'yonghae-ri had grown critical. Emmerich started for that place accompanied by the G-3 of the ROK 3d Division. Some fifty miles below the front, at P'ohang-dong, they found retreating ROK soldiers. They also found there the regimental executive officer in the act of setting up a rear command post. Emmerich, through the ROK G-3, ordered them all back north to Yongdok and followed them himself.

Already U.S. naval and air forces had joined in the fight along the coastal road. Ships came close in-shore on the enemy flank to bombard with naval gunfire the North Korean troop concentrations and supply points on the coastal corridor. The newly arrived 35th Fighter Group at Yonil Airfield joined in the fight. Weather permitting, aircraft bombed and strafed the N.K. 5th Division daily. Capt. Gerald D. Putnam, a KMAG adviser with the ROK 23d Regiment, served as an observer with the fighter group in identifying targets and in adjusting naval gunfire. Heavy monsoon rains created landslides on the mountain-flanked coastal road and helped to slow the North Korean advance. [12]

Late in the afternoon of 11 July the command post of the ROK 23d Regiment withdrew south into Yongdok. When the 3d Division commander arrived at P'ohang-dong, pursuant to Colonel Emmerich's request that he take personal command of his troops, he ordered the military police to shoot any ROK troops found in the town. That proved effective for the moment. The next day, young Brig. Gen. Lee Chu Sik arrived on the east coast to assume command of the division.

On or about 13 July, the N.K. 5th Division entered P'yonghae-ri, twenty-two miles above Yongdok and fifty miles from P'ohang-dong. There the 10th Regiment turned westward into the mountains and headed for Chinbo, back of

[10] Interv, author with Emmerich, 5 Dec 51; Interv, author with Maj Gen 
Chang Chang Kuk, 14 Oct 53; ATIS Supp, Enemy Documents, issue 3, pp. 
57-58; 24th Div WD, G-3 Jnl, entries 182, 071714; 124, 072051; 153, 
081245; 153, 081605; 336, 092335; 355, 092125; and entry at 102055 Jul 50. 

[11] Col Emmerich, MS review comments, 30 Nov 57.

[12] GHQ FEC, History of the North Korean Army, p. 60; ATIS Res Supp 
Interrog Rpts, Issue 96 (N.K. 5th Div), p. 41: 24th Div WD, 
G-3 Jnl entry 336, 092335 Jul 50; New York Times, July 29, 1950.


Yongdok. The enemy advances down the mountain backbone of central Korea and on the east coast had assumed alarming proportions. The attack on Yongdok, the first critical and major action on the east coast, was at hand.

General Dean tried to give this front additional strength by assembling there the advanced units of the 25th Infantry Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. William B. Kean. It was the second United States division to be committed in the war and arrived in Korea between 10 and 15 July. On the 8th, General Kean and an advance party flew from Osaka, Japan, to Taejon for a conference with General Dean. Two days later the 27th Infantry Regiment (Wolfhound) landed at Pusan. There the regiment learned that its new commander was Lt. Col. John H. "Mike" Michaelis. On the 12th, a second regiment, the 24th Infantry, an all-Negro regiment and the only regiment in the Eighth Army having three battalions, arrived in Korea. Col. Horton V. White commanded it. Lastly, the 35th Infantry Regiment, commanded by Col. Henry G. Fisher, arrived at Pusan between 13 and 15 July. [13]

The 27th Infantry at first went to the Uisong area, thirty-five miles north of Taegu. General Kean opened his first 25th Division command post in Korea at Yongch'on, midway between Taegu and P'ohang-dong. On 12, July General Dean ordered him to dispose the 25th Division, less one battalion which was to secure Yonil Airfield, so as to block enemy movement south from Ch'ungju. One regiment was to be in reserve at Kumch'on ready to move either to the Taejon or the Ch'ongju area. [14] The next day, 13 July, the 27th Infantry moved from Uisong to Andong on Eighth Army orders to take up blocking positions north of the town behind ROK troops.

On 13 July, with the U.S. 24th Division in defensive positions along the south bank of the Kum River, the front extended along that river to a point above Taejon, eighty miles south of Seoul, where it bent slightly north of east to pass through Ch'ongju and across the high Taebaek passes south of Ch'ungju and Tanyang, and then curved slightly south to the east coast at P'yonghae-ri, 110 air miles north of Pusan at the southern tip of the peninsula. On all the principal corridors leading south from this line heavy battles were immediately in prospect.

[13] 25th Div WD, Summ, Jul 50; 27th Inf WD, 6-31 Jul 50; 35th Inf WD, 
6-31 Jul 50.

[14] USAFIK Ltr of Instr 4, 120900 Jul 50.