Korean War in Cartoons
The cartoonist, Herblock, is known for political commentary through his work. This particular cartoon, published in June 1950, appears to reflect on the events surrounding the Korean War, which began in June of that year.
The cartoon shows a Soviet military figure pointing to a map labeled "KOREA," with arrows indicating an invasion into South Korea from North Korea. The map is purposefully inverted, suggesting a distortion of truth or perspective. The Soviet figure is telling a smaller figure, who represents a Western official or possibly an American, "You Can See How North Korea Was Invaded," which implies a reversal of the actual events where North Korea invaded South Korea.
The main message seems to be a criticism of Soviet propaganda tactics, suggesting that they are attempting to mislead the world about who was the aggressor in the Korean War. The cartoon implies that the Soviets are trying to portray North Korea as the victim rather than the instigator, which aligns with the Western view that it was North Korea, with the backing of the Soviet Union, that invaded South Korea.
The cartoon depicts a dove, traditionally a symbol of peace, with an aggressive expression and a hammer and sickle emblazoned on its body, flying over a landscape with what appears to be the aftermath of a military conflict. The hammer and sickle are symbolic of the Soviet Union, and the dove's menacing appearance contrasts with its usual connotation of peace. The caption reads "PEACE" MOVEMENT IN KOREA, with the word "peace" in quotation marks, suggesting irony or skepticism.
The cartoonist’s message is a critique of the Soviet Union's role in the Korean conflict, portraying it as cloaking aggressive actions under the guise of peace. The purpose is likely to highlight the discrepancy between the proclaimed intentions of fostering peace and the actual violent military actions taking place on the ground. It's a visual commentary on the perceived duplicity of Soviet foreign policy during the early stages of the Korean War, where peace rhetoric masked military aggression.
The British cartoon from July 12, 1950, depicts Stalin, pointing to a blackboard with a message accusing then-U.S. President Truman of launching an unwarranted attack on North Korea. The audience in front of the blackboard is composed of individuals with names of countries (Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria) on their shirts, which were part of the Soviet bloc or under Soviet influence at the time.
The main message of the cartoon is a critique of Soviet propaganda efforts to frame the United States and its allies as aggressors in the Korean War. The term "Believe it or Knout" is a play on the phrase "believe it or not" and the word "knout," a type of whip used in Russia to punish and control, suggesting that these countries are compelled to accept the Soviet version of events under duress. The cartoonist is likely highlighting the forced nature of the Soviet narrative and the lack of freedom to dissent within the Soviet sphere of influence.
The cartoon shows figures that are meant to be Russian soldiers disguised in Korean uniforms, with the notable inclusion of Stalin among them, which signifies Soviet involvement in the Korean conflict. The caption "NOBODY HERE BUT US KOREANS" is a tongue-in-cheek denial of foreign intervention, particularly from the Soviet Union, in the Korean War.
The purpose of the cartoon is to satirize the Soviet Union's attempts to mask its direct involvement in the war by portraying it as a purely Korean affair. It highlights the duplicity of the Soviet stance and criticizes their covert military support to the North Korean regime, suggesting that despite claims to the contrary, Soviet forces were directly influencing the conflict. It serves to undermine the Soviet narrative and expose the truth as seen from the British perspective at the time.
The cartoon from June 30, 1950, shows President Truman representing the United Nations leaping over a hurdle next to a gravestone for the League of Nations, which reads "Died of lack of exercise facing national aggression." This was around the start of the Korean War, and the message is a commentary on international organizations' responses to aggression.
The purpose of the cartoon is to suggest that the United Nations, unlike its predecessor the League of Nations, is actively confronting aggression, presumably in Korea, rather than avoiding it. It's a call to action, implying that the UN must not repeat the mistakes of the League, which failed to prevent the escalation of aggression that led to World War II. The caption "HISTORY DOESN'T REPEAT ITSELF" underscores this point, suggesting optimism that the UN will succeed where the League did not.
The Soviet cartoon shows multiple hands reaching from the White House, with each hand labeled with the word "Monopoly" in different languages. This represents the Soviet view of the United States at the time, suggesting that capitalist monopolies or big businesses hold the real power and influence in the U.S. government and the US is trying to use capitalism to extend its global power and influence.
The purpose of the cartoon is to criticize the capitalist system and the influence of corporations on American politics. It suggests that despite the democratic facade, it is the monopolistic powers that control the government, implying a lack of true democracy or the subversion of it by corporate interests.