Korean War in popular culture

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Korean War Posters
U.S. Army poster depicting the breakthrough at the Battle of Chipyong-ni

A large number of films, books, and other media have depicted the Korean War in popular culture. The TV series M*A*S*H is one well known example; the 1959 novel The Manchurian Candidate has twice been made into films. The 1982 film Inchon about the historic battle that occurred there in September 1950 was a financial and critical failure. Many films about the war have been produced in Asian countries as well.


Compared to World War II, there are relatively few feature films depicting the Korean War.

Western films[edit]

South Korean films[edit]

North Korean films[edit]

In North Korea the Korean War has always been a favorite subject of film, both for its dramatic appeal and its potential as propaganda; the North Korean government film industry has produced many scores of films about the war. These have portrayed war crimes by American or South Korean soldiers while glorifying members of the North Korean military as well as North Korean ideals.[5][better source needed] Some of the most prominent of these films include:

  • Unsung Heroes, a multi-part film produced between 1978 and 1981 which included in the cast several American soldiers who had defected to North Korea. It tells the story of a spy in Seoul during the Korean War.
  • Wolmi Island, a Story of Marines who defended the Wolmi Island which is attacked by the US forces.

Chinese films[edit]

  • Battle on Shangganling Mountain (Chinese: 上甘岭; pinyin: Shànggān Lǐng) is a famous Chinese war movie about the Battle of Triangle Hill. The story is centered around a group of Chinese soldiers that were trapped in a tunnel several days. Short of both food and water, they hold their grounds till the relief troops arrive; the movie's popularity is largely due to the fact it was one of the few movies that were not banned during the Cultural Revolution.
  • Assembly: Parts of this movie depicts Chinese forces in the Korean War, specifically around a special squad of artillery spotters.

Philippine films[edit]

  • 10th Battalion sa 38th Parallel, Korea was directed by Gerardo de León.
  • Korea (1952) was directed by Lamberto V. Avellana with screenplay by Benigno Aquino, Jr..
  • Batalyon Pilipino sa Korea (1954) was directed by Carlos Vander Tolosa.
  • Lagablab sa Silangan (1956) was directed by Constancio T. Villamar.
  • The Forgotten War (2009) tells about Filipinos who fought the battle of Yultong Bridge.


  • Choi In-hun's The Square is one of the most important novels about the Korean War from the 1960s.[6]
  • Jo Jung-rae's ten-volume Taebaek Mountain Range was one of the most popular novels in the 1980s. It also covers the Korean War.[7]
  • The essay Who are the Most Beloved People? (1951) by Chinese writer Wei Wei is considered to be the most famous literary and propaganda piece produced by China during the Korean War.
  • The war-memoir novel War Trash (2004), by Ha Jin, is a drafted PVA soldier's experience of the war, combat, and captivity under the UN Command, and of the retribution Chinese POWs feared from other PVA prisoners when suspected of being unsympathetic to Communism or to the war.


Singer-songwriter David Rovics sings about the Korean War in his song "Korea" on the album Song for Mahmud.


Massacre in Korea (1951), by Pablo Picasso, depicts war violence against civilians.



  • M*A*S*H (1972–83); based on the novel and film (see above), the TV series had a total of 251 episodes, lasted 11 years, and won awards. Its final episode was the most-watched program in television history,[8] yet the sensibilities they presented were more of the 1970s than of the 1950s; the Korean War setting was an oblique and uncontroversial treatment of the then-current American war in Vietnam.[9]
  • Junwoo (1975–78): a South Korean series.
  • Legend of the Patriots (2010): a South Korean series.
  • In the British sitcom Fawlty Towers, Basil Fawlty is a British Korean War veteran, claiming to have killed four men; his wife Sybil then says that he was in the Army Catering Corps and poisoned them with his cooking. Basil has been described as "the most famous and mocked fictional veteran of the Korean War."[10]


The Colombian theatrical work El monte calvo (The Barren Mount), created by Jairo Aníbal Niño, used two Colombian veterans of the Korean war, and an ex-clown named Canute to criticize militarist and warmongering views, and to show what war is and what happens to those who live through it.[11]


  1. ^ "Factsheets : Col. Dean Hess". af.mil. Archived from the original on 2009-10-06. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
  2. ^ "Battle Hymn (1957)". imdb.com. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
  3. ^ The Hollywood Reporter The Frontline: Film Review 9 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-14
  4. ^ "Operation Chromite (2016)". IMDb. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  5. ^ Delisle, Guy Pyongyang: A Journey Into North Korea, pp. 63, 146, 173. Drawn & Quarterly Books.
  6. ^ Osváth Gábor. "A mai dél-koreai elbeszélő irodalomról" (in Hungarian). Terebess Ázsia E-Tár. Retrieved 2014-11-18.
  7. ^ K-Literature (pdf). Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS). December 2012. p. 52.
  8. ^ "What is M*A*S*H". Archived from the original on 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  9. ^ Halberstam, David, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, p. 4.
  10. ^ Huxford, Grace (1 July 2018). "The Korean War in Britain: Citizenship, selfhood and forgetting". Oxford University Press – via Google Books.
  11. ^ "El Monte Calvo". montecalvo.blogspot.com. Retrieved March 31, 2010.