Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất massacre

Deaths 69–79
Location Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất villages, Điện Bàn District, Quảng Nam Province, South Vietnam
Died Unknown
Date February 12, 1968; 54 years ago (1968-02-12)
Criminal penalty Unknown


A dying 21-year-old woman with her breasts cut out and left shot by South Korean marines. U.S. Marines transported her to the hospital, but she died soon after. Photo by Corporal J. Vaughn, Delta-2 Platoon, U.S. Marine Corps.
A child killed during the Phong Nhi and Phong Nhat massacre. Photo by Corporal J. Vaughn, Delta-2 Platoon, U.S. Marine.

The Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất massacre (Korean: 퐁니·퐁넛 양민학살 사건, Vietnamese: Thảm sát Phong Nhất và Phong Nhị) was a massacre of unarmed citizens in the villages of Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất, Điện Bàn District of Quảng Nam Province in South Vietnam reported to have been conducted by the 2nd Marine Brigade of the Republic of Korea Marines (ROKMC) during the Vietnam War on 12 February 1968.


At the time the massacre occurred, the Phong Nhị (15°54′29″N 108°14′06″E / 15.908°N 108.235°E / 15.908; 108.235) villagers had had a close relationship with the U.S. Marines as the villagers formed a part of the Combined Action Program (CAP) and the village men were enlisted as South Vietnamese soldiers.: 32 

At about 10:00 members of the ROKMC 1st Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Brigade passed the CAP Delta-2 team (15°54′36″N 108°14′17″E / 15.91°N 108.238°E / 15.91; 108.238). At 10:30 the ROKMC company moved west towards Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất (15°54′47″N 108°13′19″E / 15.913°N 108.222°E / 15.913; 108.222) and began taking fire from Phong Nhất. At about 11:00 an LVTP-5 supporting the ROKMC unit on Highway 1 was hit by a command-detonated mine and disabled. A U.S. Marine operating with the 1st Company believed that the mine had been triggered from Phong Nhất.

The 1st Company swept through Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất before returning to Phong Nhi. At 13:00 shooting was heard and smoke seen coming from Phong Nhị. At about 13:30 a Popular Force soldier from CAP Delta-2 brought in two young boys who had been shot and a woman who had been stabbed.

At about 14:00 the CAP Delta-2 members attempted unsuccessfully to contact the U.S. liaison officer at ROK 2nd Marine Brigade headquarters. The 2nd Marine Brigade G-3 officer advised the CPA Delta-2 team that ROK Marines were not in the Phong Nhị area. The CAP Delta-2 team requested mortar fire into the Phong Nhị area but this request was denied.

At about 15:00 a patrol from CAP Delta-2 moved into Phong Nhị and evacuated the survivors. A total of 69 civilians were found dead in three main groups in Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất.

The operation by the ROKMC was not approved by the District Chief. III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF) situation reports for the 2nd Marine Brigade confirmed that the 1st Company was in the area and that they received small arms fire at 11:05 and 15:30 resulting in one Marine wounded. On 16 February 1968 the ROKMC Executive Officer visited the District Chief to express regret for the incident and left 30 bags of rice for the villagers at the District headquarters.


Eyewitness testimony from both the members of CAP Delta-2 and survivors at the hospital prompted calls for a war-crime investigation from CAP commanders and COMUSMACV, both making direct demands that ROK commander Lieutenant general Chae Myung-shin investigate. On 16 April 1968 the III MAF reported on the incident to Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV). A total of five other hamlet massacres were investigated as well, at Hoang Chau hamlet, Phuoc My, Thanh Phu and Hoa Phon. On 29 April 1968, MACV sent the report to the General Chae.

On 4 June 1968, General Chae advised MACV that he had investigated the incident and stated that ROKMC forces had never been in Phong Nhị and that operations were limited to Phong Nhất. Chae suggested that the massacre had been conducted by Vietcong (VC) forces disguised in Korean-style camouflage uniforms in order to discredit the Korean forces. Chae stated that there were numerous cases in which the VC used the duck hunter camouflage pattern worn by the ROKMC to commit misdeeds in order to incite unpopular opinion as support for his claim. Chae also denied that the ROKMC Executive Officer had apologized for the massacre and claimed that the bags of rice were not offered as an apology but were part of normal refugee assistance.

VC secret reports discuss this massacre, clearly blaming the Korean forces for conducting this massacre and discussed reprisals to rally villagers to their cause and away from GVN/USMC pacification efforts.


Abandoned children bodies in ditch. U.S Army and South Vietnamese Army were searching for other abandoned bodies.

The massacre negatively impacted ongoing pacification efforts in the region as it became widely known. Transferring the ROKMC to the populated Da Nang sector of I Corps from an unpopulated sector set back considerable efforts invested in winning support and worsened relations with local residents. This massacre alongside the Hà My massacre undermined ongoing efforts at pacification.

South Vietnamese and US commanders from the region had a negative appraisal of Koreans with General Rathvon M. Tompkins and General Robert E. Cushman Jr. being quite negative about the Koreans being transferred to the sector, as they were regarded as generally uncooperative and unwilling to engage in security while committing atrocities. These atrocities were reported by ARVN/US commanders and sent down to Saigon.

In 1969, one of the victims' families made a petition to the President of South Vietnam's Parliament for compensation. The local South Vietnamese civilians were particularly disturbed that the massacre was perpetrated by ROK forces against villagers who had family members in ARVN forces. Testimonies of survivors at Da Nang hospital, as well as the USMC patrol that had found the victims, had identified ROK forces as responsible with no Việt Cộng in the vicinity.

On 11 November 2000, General Chae conceded that Chief of Staff of the United States Army General William Westmoreland demanded the investigation several times. Chae still claimed that the two villages were not in the route of the ROKMC and repeatedly continued to blame the VC who allegedly wore the South Korean marine uniforms.

The event was prominently featured in the Korean media when it was discovered by Ku Su-Jeong looking at Hanoi's archives around the time of relationship normalisation, and Korean civic groups have called on apologies for this event from Korean leaders. Survivors of the massacre have done likewise. South Korean sculptors Kim Seo-kyung & Kim Eun-sung, two sculptors who designed the comfort women Pietà statues, have built a similar commemorative statue at the location of the massacre.