Partisan Commando Unit Tiger Brigade

Look into the story of partisan commandos who gave their life for Korea during the Korean War

A commemorative photo of parachute trainee of the Tiger Brigade (1952-03-26)War Memorial of Korea

Have you ever heard the story about the Tiger Brigade? A partisan commando unit that fought until the bitter end with the mission to "protect our territory with our own hands." The Tiger Brigade includes all of those who fought until the end to protect the homeland during the war without having names, military ID numbers, or ranks.

Members of Tiger Brigade on the marchWar Memorial of Korea

Park Sang-joon, who was the brigade commander, made a chart of guerilla fighters who were fellow soldiers forgotten and vanished by recording their names, date of birth, killed in action, and missing in action. The list of names, special mission files, military surgeon letters, military records, etc., were used to show the world their records and sacrifices

An outline history of Tiger Brigade, 1953-07, From the collection of: War Memorial of Korea
List of the Tiger Brigade's member who wounded in the war, 1953, From the collection of: War Memorial of Korea
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A commemorative photo of the first Officer Training of the Tiger Brigade in 1952 (1952-06-20)War Memorial of Korea

The Tiger Brigade was a guerrilla force where young people in the 38th parallel, Hwanghae Province, who could not escape due to North Korea's invasion of South Korea, secured security and cleared the North Korean army in the name of the Korean Youth Corps and security forces after the UN forces advanced north for their local defense.

When the South Korean and UN Forces retreated due to the intervention of the Chinese Communist Army, these young men also retreated to Ganghwa-do, Gyodong-do, Yongmae-do, and other nearby regions. While engaged in guerilla warfare behind enemy lines to procure food, they met with the Army Intelligence Unit and were then incorporated into the Eulji 2nd Army Corps in March of 1951.

A commemorative photo of parachute trainee of the Tiger Brigade (1952-03-26)War Memorial of Korea

After being incorporated into the Eulji 2nd Army Corps, they received training with the training corps, but not long after, as the US intended to establish a partisan unit, the Korean Army Command incorporated the Eulji Army Corps under the US Army. As a result, the Eulji Army Corps was placed in the Baengnyeong Command under the control of the US 8th Army and was incorporated into the 5th Donkey Unit.

The unit that was under the control of the Baengnyeongdo Command was transitioned to become under the control of the Wolfpack Base established in Ganghwa-do at the end of April 1951. The Tiger Brigade was reorganized at this time. But they were not incorporated into the regular army.

Members of Tiger Brigade in front of helicopterWar Memorial of Korea

The US 8240 Army Unit, otherwise known as the KLO unit, was officially an information collection unit fostered by the US Army. As the partisan unit was a unit composed mainly of people from North Korea who got together and were later absorbed, they provided various information and made it easier to identify the geography and collect information during intelligence missions. Accordingly, the US Army controlled them and used them unofficially.

The Tiger Brigade was a partisan commando unit that trained during the day and infiltrated enemy lines at night in poor conditions not even having legal status, and they attacked North Korean and Chinese military bases, as well as a variety of other missions such as building underground organizations. In addition, they operated about 100 spies to collect information such as on enemy transportation routes and military facilities, while also operating airborne squadrons and subversive units for inland infiltration.

Photo of the 1st graduates of school in Tiger Brigade's barrack (1952-11-12)War Memorial of Korea

Park Sang-joon, who served as the commander of the Tiger Brigade in very vulnerable conditions, rented an elementary school to open an army school so that the partisans, who had to stop studying because of their guerilla activities, could work during the day and complete middle school courses in Korean, English, and math. As if to understand Brigadier Park Sang-joon's intent, the partisans did not give up on studying.

Photograph of the medics in Tiger BrigadeWar Memorial of Korea

In addition, at the UN Partisans Infantry Korea Tiger Brigade Hospital, fellow soldiers who were injured in guerilla battles by infiltrating enemy lines during the night without even having military ID numbers or ranks were treated, while providing treatment for civilians as well.

The view of Armistice buliding at Panmunjom from North Korea in 1950s (1950)War Memorial of Korea

With the ceasefire agreement, the Tiger Brigade was incorporated into the Ministry of Defense 8250 Unit 2nd Regiment 2nd Battalion and 9th Battalion, thus being enlisted to the South Korean Army, but this unit was disbanded in February of 1954 and was assigned to different units of the South Korean Army. Finally, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice gained military ID numbers.

An unveiling ceremony of monument & military-police cooperation memorial ceremony (1953-10-31)War Memorial of Korea

On October 31, 1953, an event was held to celebrate the opening of the Chunghon Tower and a joint military-police memorial service to remember their sacrifices. They fought enemy troops without proper clothing or weapon supplies but defended key military regions in the West Sea, making great contributions to defend the capital. Later, they became the predecessor of the Special Warfare Command.

The Tiger Brigade risked their lives in combat with the mission to protect the country in the war. We should always remember not only the Tiger Brigade, but all of the 'nameless heroes' who sacrificed their lives for the nation and make sure that war never breaks out again.

Credits: Story

*Rights to all data used in this story are reserved by the War Memorial of Korea.

Planning/Editing: Sohn Won-tae 
Host: Jung Seo-hee

The War Memorial of Korea is a comprehensive museum on war and military history that collects, preserves, manages, and services various materials related to the history of the war in the Korean Peninsula. The War Memorial of Korea's Open Archive is offered to share historical resources with citizens. Check out more archive materials of the War Memorial at the Open Archive.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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