Panicked Korean War Evacuees Flee Across A Broken Bridge

Published April 20, 2015
Updated June 5, 2015

Flights Of Refugees Pyongyang 1950

In December 1950, defeated by Chinese and North Korean soldiers at the Battle of the Ch’ongch’on River, American-led United Nations forces scrambled southward. It was the longest retreat in United States military history.

As throngs of Korean civilians likewise fled toward the south, Associated Press photographer Max Desfor captured the sense of absolute panic as thousands tried desperately to cross a crippled bridge over the Taedong River. Although Desfor didn’t think the photo was one of his best, it soon won him a Pulitzer Prize.

Nearly three years later, the Korean War ended, yet tensions between North and South Korea remain high to this day. Just two years ago, North Korea’s armed forces ministry said that it was “not restrained by the North-South declaration on non-aggression.”

While North Korea’s actions continue to arouse international concern, take a photographic journey inside its closed society and witness its unbelievable mass games.

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