– CBS Radio News Update on Korean Crisis – June 27, 1950 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
As the hours ticked by, after the initial reports of a “we’re not playing around” invasion of South Korea by North Korea, President Truman authorized the use of Air Force and Naval units to assist the South Koreans in their attempted push-back of the invaders.
On 7 June 1950, Kim Il-sung called for a Korea-wide election on 5–8 August 1950 and a consultative conference in Haeju on 15–17 June 1950. On 11 June, the North sent three diplomats to the South as a peace overture that Rhee rejected outright. On 21 June, Kim Il-Sung revised his war plan to involve a general attack across the 38th Parallel, rather than a limited operation in the Ongjin Peninsula. Kim was concerned that South Korean agents had learned about the plans and that South Korean forces were strengthening their defenses. Stalin agreed to this change of plan.
While these preparations were underway in the North, there were frequent clashes along the 38th Parallel, especially at Kaesong and Ongjin, many initiated by the South. On the eve of war, KMAG commander General William Lynn Roberts boasted that any North Korean invasion would merely provide “target practice”. For his part, Syngman Rhee repeatedly expressed his desire to conquer the North, including when US diplomat John Foster Dulles visited Korea on 18 June.
Although some South Korean and US intelligence officers predicted an attack from the North, similar predictions had been made before and nothing had happened. The Central Intelligence Agency noted the southward movement by the Korean Peoples Army (KPA), but assessed this as a “defensive measure” and concluded an invasion was “unlikely”. On 23 June, UN observers inspected the border and did not detect that war was imminent.
At dawn on Sunday, 25 June 1950, the KPA crossed the 38th Parallel behind artillery fire. The KPA justified its assault with the claim that ROK troops attacked first and that the KPA were aiming to arrest and execute the “bandit traitor Syngman Rhee”. Fighting began on the strategic Ongjin Peninsula in the west. There were initial South Korean claims that the 17th Regiment captured the city of Haeju, and this sequence of events has led some scholars to argue that the South Koreans fired first.
Whoever fired the first shots in Ongjin, within an hour, KPA forces attacked all along the 38th Parallel. The KPA had a combined arms force including tanks supported by heavy artillery. The ROK had no tanks, anti-tank weapons or heavy artillery to stop such an attack. In addition, the South Koreans committed their forces in a piecemeal fashion and these were routed in a few days.
On 27 June, Rhee evacuated from Seoul with some of the government.
As the drama and the war were heating up, news organizations were clamoring for any updates, and reports were coming in at a rapid pace.
Here is a brief re-cap of the day’s activities as reported by CBS Radio on June 27, 1950.
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