• Short Summary

    Whilst the greater part of South Viet-Nam now under Government control struggles desperately to secure their areas and put the Revolutionary Development scheme into effective operation, the Korean Tiger Division continues to control the TAOR (Tactical Area of Responsibility) allotted to them in the most successful pacification scheme in the country.

  • Description

    Whilst the greater part of South Viet-Nam now under Government control struggles desperately to secure their areas and put the Revolutionary Development scheme into effective operation, the Korean Tiger Division continues to control the TAOR (Tactical Area of Responsibility) allotted to them in the most successful pacification scheme in the country.

    When the Tiger Division landed in Viet-Nam in October, 1965 they were given a small area of responsibility near Qui Nhon city in Binh Dinh province (II Corps Military area) to secure. Since that time the Koreans have extended their area several times, and now control effectively nearly 3,500 square kilometres - extending from about 30 miles north of Quin Nhon city to well into Phu Yen Province (south of Binh Dinh).

    Binh Dinh and Phu Yen provinces were long considered the stronghold of the Viet-Cong, and had been under Communist control for about 25 years. Binh Dinh is the most densely-populated province in South Viet-Nam, and also one of the most fertile. This made it of prime importance to the enemy, as they relied a great deal on the food they gathered -not only to feed the local guerillas, but also to distribute to other Communist forces throughout the country.

    They previously were able to get much of this to its destination by taking it to the coast and shipping out via sampan and junk up and won the coast.

    The remainder was carried overland - quite often over the main highways - nearly all of which they controlled.

    Now, however, the Tigers' TAOR is acknowledged as the most secure area in the country - safe to travel by day or night. Over 120 kilometres of Highway 1 is open to all traffic - the longest stretch of open highway in South Viet-Nam.

    The Koreans are the only troops in country that effectively "clear and hold" their territory. This is in sharp contrast to other allied forces, who can still generally only "search and destroy", with little hope of securing the areas for any length of time. Just north of the Tigers' TAOR an American Division has had major battles on no less than eight occasions in one area alone.

    The Tigers have proved themselves the best troops in the land - having a kill ratio of nearly 15 to 1 - easily the highest in Viet-Nam. The combined allied kill ratio is approximately 4 to 1 at the moment, and the ratio of ALL Korean forces (include Tiger, White Horse & Blue Dragon Divisions) is about 9 1/2 to 1.

    In recent months the Tigers have been employing a method of operation they call "HONG KIL DONG". This is largely the "brain-child" of the present Division Commander - MAJOR/GENERAL LEW BYONG HION. Hong Kil Dong is a character from Korean fictions of about 600 years ago. He was the "Korean Robin Hood", and was known especially for his elusiveness and mobility, often seeming to appear in different places at the same time. The Tigers employ these tactics in the field, striking and silently at enemy suspected stronghold, the accent being on speed and mobility. Their tactics follow no set pattern, and several companies or battalions will hit the enemy areas in several places at once, then withdraw quickly and strike again immediately in several other places. This has had the effect of taking the initiative from the Viet-Cong, thus depriving him of the opportunity to gather on masse for a large-scale action. The Tiger' area is varied geographically. There are jungle-clad mountains inland, rolling hills and plains nearer the coast, and broad paddyfield area close to the sea. The city of Qui Nhon is a major port. The nearby coastline is one of the most scenic to be found anywhere in the world, and was a favourite vacation area in French colonial times.

    At the moment the Division has approximately 600,000 people under its control - more than 1/30th of the entire population of the country. Since October, 1965 the Tigers have killed nearly 6,000 Communist - losing about 400 of their own soldiers at the same time - a ratio of about 15 to 1 - the highest by far in the country.

    Perhaps the most impressive part of the Koreans' work has been their effort in the civic-action fields. They treat the people firmly, but fairly - leaving no doubt in the minds of the people that they will provide adequate security, and that the Communists in their midst will be hunted down and eliminated.

    Up to this date they have proved they can safeguard the interests of the people, and in return the Vietnamese are co-operating with the Koreans in rebuilding their shattered homes and economy. The paddy-farmer no longer has the worry of the VC tax-collector, nor the fear of terrorist acts against him and/or his family as reprisal for his collaboration with the Tigers.

    Many thousands of refugees from Communist-controlled areas flock to the Tigers TAOR for protection. It places a big burden on the Koreans and the Vietnamese administration of the area, but each refugee is met with food and roof over their heads. The huge task of resettling these people continues to be the largest problem for the Koreans and Vietnamese, but the Tigers have tacked the work with great energy -and in the one way they know - by providing willing labour whenever and wherever possible. They are the only Allied force in country that consistently literally "take off their shirts" and get in and help. Several villages have been completely rebuilt by the Korean soldiers and peasant people working together on the building work. Everything is utilised, and much of the timber for the homes comes from the large ammunition crates that carry artillery shells to Viet-Nam.

    The Koreans are in the happy position of being much more able to understand the attitude of the Vietnamese people, and it is therefore much easier for them to assist. Near Qui Nhon the Tiger instructors teach young Vietnamese men the art of the Tae-Kwon-Do (Korean karate). One or two young men from each village is selected (by the Vietnamese) to undergo this training. After about 12 weeks they return to their homes and pass on their knowledge to others, at the same time assisting in the various civic action projects under way in their area.

    Before some of their military operations gunships (fully-armed helicopters) strafe and rocket a suspected VC area. Then the troops land. From above it is possible to see where the countryside is scarred from bombing raids - large craters being quite evident dotted over the landscape.

    The Tigers place heavy emphasis on capturing weapons from the enemy so that they are not left behind for others to use against Government forces.

    Well over 2,000 weapons of various types have been captured since they have arrived in country, and this total is also well in advance of other forces on a pro rata basis.

    The strength of the Korean Tiger Division in Viet-Nam is about 15,000. They are holding an area of prime importance in the country, and controlling a number of people far in excess proportionately to their own strength. However, they are proving that large areas and numbers of people can be assisted and given security. At this time liason teams from other Allied forces in-country have been closely studying the Korean methods in the hope that it can be reproduced elsewhere in South Viet-Nam.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVA4I43H7SVGTNTUREXERSWUTJF5
    Media URN:
    VLVA4I43H7SVGTNTUREXERSWUTJF5
    Group:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    22/07/1967
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Black & White
    Duration:
    00:14:08:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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