Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất massacre

Last updated
Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất massacre
Phong Nhi massacre 8.jpg
U.S. Marines recovered victims' bodies in Phong Nhi and Phong Nhat villages on 12 February 1968
LocationPhong Nhi and Phong Nhất villages, Điện Bàn District of Quảng Nam Province, South Vietnam
Date12 February 1968
Attack type
Deaths69–79 [1]
A dying 21-year-old woman with her breasts cut out and left shot by South Korean marines. U.S. Marines transported her to the hospital, but she died soon after. Photo by Corporal J. Vaughn, Delta-2 Platoon, U.S. Marine Corps. Phong Nhi massacre 3.jpg
A dying 21-year-old woman with her breasts cut out and left shot by South Korean marines. U.S. Marines transported her to the hospital, but she died soon after. Photo by Corporal J. Vaughn, Delta-2 Platoon, U.S. Marine Corps.
A child killed during the Phong Nhi and Phong Nhat massacre. Photo by Corporal J. Vaughn, Delta-2 Platoon, U.S. Marine. Phong Nhi massacre 2.jpg
A child killed during the Phong Nhi and Phong Nhat massacre. Photo by Corporal J. Vaughn, Delta-2 Platoon, U.S. Marine.

The Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất massacre [4] [5] (Korean : 퐁니·퐁넛 양민학살 사건, Vietnamese: Thảm sát Phong Nhất và Phong Nhị) was a massacre reported to have been conducted by the 2nd Marine Division of the South Korean Marine Corps on 12 February 1968 of unarmed citizens in the villages of Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất, Điện Bàn District of Quảng Nam Province in South Vietnam. [6] The South Korean forces had been newly transferred from the area, in the wake of the Tet Offensive, with the village located in a densely populated region in and around Da Nang. Transferring Korean Marines to the populated Da Nang sector from a less populated sector was unpopular with ARVN and US Commanders and setting back pacification and relation-building efforts, due to the behaviour of Korean forces. [7]

Korean language Language spoken in Korea

The Korean language is an East Asian language spoken by about 77 million people. It is a member of the Koreanic language family and is the official and national language of both Koreas: North Korea and South Korea, with different standardized official forms used in each country. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture and Changbai Korean Autonomous County of Jilin province, China. It is also spoken in parts of Sakhalin, Ukraine, and Central Asia.

Massacre incident where some group is killed by another

A massacre is a killing, typically of multiple victims, considered morally unacceptable, especially when perpetrated by a group of political actors against defenseless victims. The word is a loan of a French term for "butchery" or "carnage".

Điện Bàn District Town in South Central Coast, Vietnam

Điện Bàn is a district-level town of Quảng Nam Province in the South Central Coast region of Vietnam. As of 2015 the district had a population of 229,907. The district covers an area of 214.71 km². The district capital lies at Vĩnh Điện.



At the time the massacre occurred, the Phong Nhị villagers had had a close relationship with the U.S. Marines as it formed a part of the Combined Action Program and the village men were enlisted as South Vietnamese soldiers. [4] :32 As reported by members of CAP-2, the 2nd Marine Division had passed the CAP-2 team on their way out of the village "swung left and firing was heard throughout". [8] Just 30 minutes following this, the CAP-2 members attempted to contact the ROK 2nd Marine Division, without any success as ROK Commanders said ROK Marines were not in the area, and switched to the ROK-Command radio requesting to fire mortars at where the ROK forces were operating but permission was denied. [8] Neither the operation by the ROK Forces was approved by nor notified by the District Chief, but the ROK Executive Officer apologized and left "30 bags of rice" following the massacre. [8] The ROK Company was identified as having fired artillery at the village, having shot at the villages with small-arms fire, and having directly been within the vicinity at the time of the massacre. After the massacre, U.S. Marines and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) soldiers reached the village later that day; they treated and transported the surviving villagers to nearby hospitals. [2] [3]

Combined Action Program military unit

The Combined Action Program was a United States Marine Corps operational initiative implemented in the Vietnam War and proved to be one of the most effective counterinsurgency tools developed during that conflict. Operating from 1965 to 1971, this program was characterized by the placement of a thirteen-member Marine rifle squad, augmented by a U.S. Navy Corpsman and strengthened by a Vietnamese militia platoon of older youth and elderly men, in or adjacent to a rural Vietnamese hamlet. In most cases, the Popular Forces militia members were residents of the hamlet who were either too young or too old to be drafted into the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN) or the Regional Forces. The entire unit of American Marines and Popular Forces militia members together was designated as a Combined Action Platoon (CAP).

Army of the Republic of Vietnam Former ground forces of the South Vietnamese military

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam, were the ground forces of the South Vietnamese military from its inception in 1955 until the Fall of Saigon in April 1975. It is estimated to have suffered 1,394,000 casualties during the Vietnam War.

In 1969, one of the victims' families made a petition to the President of South Vietnam Parliament for compensation. [9] The local South Vietnamese civilians were particularly disturbed that the massacre was perpetrated by ROK forces against villagers who had family members in ARVN forces. [10] Testimonies of survivors at Da Nang hospital, as well as the USMC patrol that had found the victims had identified ROK-forces as responsible with no Viet Cong in the vicinity. [8]

On 25 February, another massacre purportedly occurred in nearby Hà Mỹ village.


Eyewitness testimony from both the members of the CAP-Program and survivors at the hospital prompted grounds for a war-crime investigation for investigation were done from CAP-Commanders and COMUSMACV, both making direct demands that ROK Commander Chae-Myungshin investigate. On 16 April 1968 the III MAF reported on the incident to Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV). A total of five other hamlet massacres were investigated as well, at Hoang Chau hamlet, Phouc My, Thanh Phu and Hoa Phon. [8] On 29 April, MACV sent the report to the South Korean Vietnam Expeditionary Forces Commanding Officer Lieutenant general Chae Myung-shin (ko). On 4 June 1968, General Chae advised MACV that he had investigated the incident and stated that Viet Cong forces disguised in Korean-style camouflage uniforms in order to discredit the Korean forces. [8] Chae alleged that there were numerous cases in which the Viet Cong utilized the duckhunter pattern used by the South Korean marines to commit misdeeds in order to incite unpopular opinion allegedly supporting his claim with the testimony of an ARVN Sergeant. [8] This is despite contradictory testimony by survivors of these massacres, interviewed by US Army Personnel at Da Nang hospital as well as U.S. Armed Forces personnel who rescued the civilians, all of whom blame Korean Forces. [8] Furthermore Viet Cong secret reports discuss this massacre, clearly blaming the Korean forces for conducting this massacre and discussed reprisals to rally villagers to their cause and away from GVN/USMC pacification efforts. [10]

Military Assistance Command, Vietnam

U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) was a joint-service command of the United States Department of Defense.

Lieutenant general, lieutenant-general and similar is a three-star military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages, where the title of lieutenant general was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a captain general.

Chae Myung-shin Korean General

Chae Myung-shin was a South Korean army officer who commanded South Korean military forces in the Vietnam War.


Abandoned children bodies in ditch. U.S Army and South Vietnamese Army were searching for other abandoned bodies. Abandoned children bodies of Phong Nhi massacre.jpg
Abandoned children bodies in ditch. U.S Army and South Vietnamese Army were searching for other abandoned bodies.

The massacres had negatively impacted ongoing pacification efforts in the region, and became widely known. [10] Transferring Korean Marines to the populated Da Nang sector of I Corps and I Field Force from an un-populated sector had set-back considerable effort in winning support and deteriorated relations with locals. [7] This massacre alongside the Hà My massacre and other ongoing massacres and atrocities had undermined continual efforts at pacification. [7] South Vietnamese and US commanders from the region had a negative appraisal of Koreans with General Rathvon M. Tompkins and General Robert E. Cushman Jr. being quite negative about the Koreans being transferred to the sector, as they were regarded as generally uncooperative and unwilling to engage in security while committing atrocities. [7] These atrocities were reported by ARVN/US commanders and sent down to Saigon. [7] Korean forces were transferred back to II Corps/II Field Force following this incident, and were relegated to guarding bases and minimising any offensive or combat actions.

I Corps (South Vietnam) Corps of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam

The I Corps Tactical Zone was a corps of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), the army of the nation state of South Vietnam that existed from 1955 to 1975. It was one of four corps of the ARVN. This was the northernmost region of South Vietnam, bordering North Vietnam. These five provinces are Quảng Trị Province,, Thừa Thiên-Huế Province,, Quảng Nam Province,, Quảng Tín Province, and Quảng Ngãi Province,. The region included the DMZ area where 3rd Marine Division intelligence estimated the combat strength of NVA and VC forces in January 1968 was 40,943 troops.

I Field Force, Vietnam military unit

I Field Force, Vietnam was a corps-level command of the United States Army during the Vietnam War. Activated on 15 March 1966, it was the successor to Task Force Alpha, a provisional corps command created 1 August 1965 for temporary control of activities of U.S. Army ground combat units arriving in Vietnam. I Field Force was a component of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) and had its headquarters at Nha Trang.

Hà My massacre massacre of Vietnamese citizens of Ha My village, in 1968

The Hà My Massacre was a massacre purportedly conducted by the South Korean Marines on 25 February 1968 of unarmed citizens in Hà My village, Dien Duong commune, Điện Bàn District Quảng Nam Province in South Vietnam.

On 11 November 2000, General Chae conceded that Chief of Staff of the United States Army General William Westmoreland demanded the investigation several times. [11] The South Korean commander still stated that the two villages were not in the route of the South Korean marines who patrolled the area and repeatedly maintained blame on the Viet Cong who allegedly wore the South Korean marine uniforms. [11]

The event had been prominently featured in the Korean media when it was broke by Ku Su-Jeong looking at Hanoi's archives around the time of relationship normalisation, [12] and Korean civic groups have called on apologies for this event from Korean leaders [13] alongside survivors of the massacre. [14] South Korean sculptors Kim Seo-kyung & Kim Eun-sung, two sculptors whom designed the comfort women Pieta statutes, have built a similar commemorative statute at the location of the massacre. [15]

See also

Related Research Articles

Vietnam War 1955–1975 conflict in Vietnam

The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war, considered a Cold War-era proxy war by some, lasted 19 years, with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973, and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, resulting in all three countries becoming communist in 1975.

Major General Nguyễn Khoa Nam, was a native of Đà Nẵng and served in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). He received his primary education at the École des Garçons in Đà Nẵng and graduated in 1939. After joining the French-sponsored Vietnam National Army (VNA), he attended the Thủ Đức Military Academy and graduated in 1953.

Fall of Saigon capture of Saigon by the People’s Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam

The Fall of Saigon, also known as the Liberation of Saigon, was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and the Viet Cong on 30 April 1975. The event marked the end of the Vietnam War and the start of a transition period to the formal reunification of Vietnam into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Vietnam War casualties civilian and military deaths during the Vietnam War

Estimates of casualties of the Vietnam War vary widely. Estimates include both civilian and military deaths in North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

Tet 1969 refers to the attacks mounted by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and Viet Cong (VC) in February 1969 in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War, one year after the original Tet Offensive.

Operation Masher military operation

Operation Masher was in early 1966 the largest search and destroy mission that had been carried out in the Vietnam War up until that time. It was a combined mission of the United States Army, Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), and Republic of Korea Army (ROK) in Bình Định Province on the central coast of South Vietnam. The People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) 3rd Division, made up of two regiments of North Vietnamese regulars and one regiment of main force Viet Cong (VC) guerrillas, controlled much of the land and many of the people of Bình Định Province, which had a total population of about 800,000. A CIA report in 1965 said that Binh Dinh was "just about lost" to the communists.

Operation Hong Kil Dong (홍길동작전) was the largest South Korean operation of the Vietnam War. The 48-day-long operation was claimed by South Korea as a major success as they claimed to have forces thwarted People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN)/Viet Cong (VC) infiltration into friendly areas. The results of the operation were a claim of a kill ratio of 24:1 in the Korean's report primarily killed by heavy artillery, aerial bombardment and B-52 Arclight strikes : 638 PAVN/VC. 98 crew-served and 359 individual weapons were found in the aftermath.

7th Division (South Vietnam)

The Seventh Division was part of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), the army of the nation state of South Vietnam that existed from 1955 to 1975. It was part of the IV Corps, which oversaw the Mekong Delta region of the country.

Joint warfare in South Vietnam, 1963–1969

In the Vietnam War, after the assassinations of Ngo Dinh Diem and John F. Kennedy in late 1963 and the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 and the continuing political instability in the South, the United States made a policy commitment to begin joint warfare in South Vietnam, a period of gradual escalation and Americanization, involving the commitment of large-scale combat forces from the United States and allied countries. It was no longer assumed the Republic of Vietnam could create a desirable situation without major external assistance. This phase of the war lasted until the election of Richard Nixon, and the change of U.S. policy to Vietnamization, or giving the main combat role back to the South Vietnamese military.

1965 in the Vietnam War

In 1965, the United States rapidly increased its military forces in South Vietnam, prompted by the realization that the South Vietnamese government was losing the Vietnam War as the communist-dominated Viet Cong gained influence over much of the population in rural areas of the country. North Vietnam also rapidly increased its infiltration of men and supplies to combat South Vietnam and the U.S.. The objective of the U.S. and South Vietnam was to prevent a communist take-over. North Vietnam and the insurgent Viet Cong sought to unite the two sections of the country.

1962 in the Vietnam War

The Viet Cong insurgency expanded in South Vietnam in 1962. U.S. military personnel flew combat missions and accompanied South Vietnamese soldiers in ground operations to find and defeat the insurgents. Secrecy was the official U.S. policy concerning the extent of U.S. military involvement in South Vietnam. The U.S.'s commanding general of MACV, Paul D. Harkins, projected optimism that progress was being made in the war, but that optimism was refuted by the concerns expressed by a large number of more junior officers and civilians. Several prominent magazines, newspapers, and politicians in the U.S. questioned the military strategy the U.S. was pursuing in support of the South Vietnamese government of President Ngô Đình Diệm. Diệm created the Strategic Hamlet Program as his top priority to defeat the Viet Cong. The program intended to cluster South Vietnam's rural dwellers into defended villages where they would be provided with government social services.

Hue–Da Nang Campaign

The Hue–Da Nang Campaign was a series of military actions conducted by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) against the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) during the Vietnam War, also known in Vietnam as the American War. The campaign was centred on the cities of Huế and Da Nang, with secondary fronts in the provinces of Quảng Trị and Quảng Ngãi. The campaign began on March 5 and concluded on April 2, 1975.

Robert Morehead Cook US Army officer

Robert Morehead Cook was a United States Army Colonel, who served as an inspector general during the Vietnam War. Cook reported the Phong Nhi and Phong Nhat massacre.

Binh Tai Massacre

The Bình Tai Massacre was a massacre purportedly perpetrated by South Korean Forces on 9 October 1966 of 168 citizens in Binh Tai village of Bình Định Province in South Vietnam.

The South Korean government, under the administration of Park Chung-hee, took an active role in the Vietnam War. From September 1964 to March 1973, South Korea sent more than 300,000 troops to South Vietnam. The South Korean Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force all participated as an ally of the United States. The number of troops from South Korea was much greater than those from Australia and New Zealand, and second only to the U.S. military force for foreign troops located in South Vietnam. The military commander was Lieutenant General Chae Myung-shin of the South Korean army.

Cam Ne incident

The Cam Ne incident was a Vietnam War incident involving U.S. military and South Vietnamese civilians that occurred at the village of Cam Ne in Quảng Nam Province, South Vietnam, and became one of the top news stories in the United States about the war.

Peoples Tribunal on War Crimes by South Korean Troops during the Vietnam War

The People's Tribunal on War Crimes by South Korean Troops during the Vietnam War was a citizen's tribunal organised by South Korean social organizations including Minbyun, Korea-Vietnam Peace Foundation, The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan during 21–22 April 2018.

The War of the flags was a phase of fighting throughout South Vietnam lasting from 23 January to 3 February 1973 as the forces of North and South Vietnam each sought to maximize the territory under their control before the ceasefire in place agreed by the Paris Peace Accords came into effect on 27 January 1973. The fighting continued past the ceasefire date and into early February. South Vietnamese forces made greater territorial gains and inflicted significant losses on the North Vietnamese forces.


  1. Han Hong-gu, Sungkonghoe University professor. 미국의 관심은 '학살은폐 책임' 최초공개된 미국 비밀보고서의 의미… 정부는 참전군인의 명예를 위해서 진상조사에 나서라. Hankyoreh (in Korean). Retrieved 29 January 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Go Gyeong-tae (24 January 2001). 특집 "그날의 주검을 어찌 잊으랴" 베트남전 종전 26돌, 퐁니·퐁넛촌의 참화를 전하는 사진을 들고 현장에 가다. Hankyoreh (in Korean). Retrieved 27 January 2011.
  3. 1 2 여기 한 충격적인 보고서가 있다 미국이 기록한 한국군의 베트남 학살 보고서 발견. OhmyNews (in Korean). Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2011.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. 1 2 Kwon, Heonik. After the massacre: commemoration and consolation in Ha My and My Lai. University of California Press. p. 47. ISBN   978-0-520-24797-0.
  5. Kim Chang-seok (15 November 2000). 편견인가, 꿰뚫어 본 것인가 미군 정치고문 제임스 맥의 보고서 "쿠앙남성 주둔 한국군은 무능·부패·잔혹". Hankyoreh (in Korean). Retrieved 27 January 2011.
  6. Go Gyeong-tae. 잠자던 진실, 30년만에 깨어나다 "한국군은 베트남에서 무엇을 했는가"… 미국 국립문서보관소 비밀해제 보고서·사진 최초공개. Hankyoreh (in Korean). Retrieved 27 January 2011.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Shulimson, Jack (2015-11-06). U.S. Marines In Vietnam: The Defining Year, 1968. Pickle Partners Publishing. p. 1122. ISBN   9781786256331.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  9. Go Gyeong-tae (23 November 2000). "끝없이 벗겨지는 '제2의 밀라이'". Hankyoreh . Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  10. 1 2 3 Kwon, Heonik. "Anatomy of US and South Korean Massacres in the Vietnamese Year of the Monkey, 1968 | The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus". Retrieved 2018-06-07.
  11. 1 2 Kim Chang-seok (15 November 2000). "한국군도 많이 당했다" 채명신 전 주월한국군총사령관 인터뷰… 남베트남군 사령관 만나 사과한 적도. Hankyoreh (in Korean). Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  12. "Reckoning with Korea's role in Vietnam War massacres". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
  13. Herald, The Korea (2017-11-09). "'Time to apologize for Korea's own war crimes in Vietnam'" . Retrieved 2018-06-15.
  14. "[Newsmaker] Vietnam massacre victims demand Korean government's apology". Herald English. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
  15. "Sculptor to make symbol of Vietnam massacres". koreatimes. 2017-06-21. Retrieved 2017-06-22.

Further reading