Home » News » Politics » What is Operation Moolah?

What is Operation Moolah?

The Korean War was fought between North and South Korea from 1950 to 1953. No Kum-Sok, a North Korean pilot, was rewarded $100,000, almost a million dollars today. But what did he do to deserve the reward?

In the Korean War, the US launched Operation Moolah. The goal was to provide rewards for communist pilots defecting with an intact MiG-15 jet. The only pilot who qualified was No Kum-Sok. He was unaware but was given the prize anyway.

The Korean War

After World War II, Korea was divided into the North and South territories. The North territory was occupied by the USSR, while they occupied the South. Soon afterward, two new Korean states emerged. South Korea was under the rule of anti-communist dictator Syngman Rhee, while North Korea was under the communist dictator Kim Il Sung.

Both states were trying to occupy the other, leading to border battles. An estimated 10,000 soldiers perished before the Korean War. On June 25, 1950, 75,000 North Korean Army soldiers marched into the 38th parallel, which was the boundary of North and South Korea.

This action taken by the North Korean Army was seen as a communist effort to expand its territory. It was seen as a symbol of a global struggle between the Eastern and Western hemispheres. President Truman saw it as a move not only to invade South Korea, stating that the Soviets would keep right on going and swallow up one place after another.

The US was initially on a defensive stance during the start of the war. The initial goal was to remove the communist occupation in South Korea. However, it was not successful. The North Korean Army was disciplined, well-trained, and well-equipped in comparison to the South Korean Army. 

The weather played an important factor. It was one of the driest summers in the country, and American forces were often forced to drink water in rice paddies. This caused intestinal diseases and illnesses.

The US realigned its approach into an offensive stance. General Douglas MacArthur wanted to liberate North Korea from the communist occupation. This strategy worked at first, but the general, and ultimately president Truman, was warded off by the Chinese Mao Zedong, who threatened an all-out war should they cross the Yalu border.

In July 1951, President Truman started peace talks to end the Korean War, and an armistice was signed two years after, on July 23, 1953. The reprieve gave way to a new boundary on the 38th parallel and gave an extra 1,500 square miles of territory to South Korea. It also ushered in the creation of a 2-mile wide demilitarized zone. (Source: History)

Operation Moolah

On April 26 and 27, 1953, US bomber planes flew over North Korean territories. The aircraft was not carrying any bombs. Instead, they dropped over a million leaflets. The leaflets contained the offer of a monetary reward to any Communist pilot who would deliver a MiG-15 or any Soviet aircraft in the UNC forces in South Korea. The leaflets were written in three languages: Korean, Chinese, and Russian.

The offer also states the following:

  • A base reward of $50,000,
  • Political asylum,
  • Resettlement in a non-communist country,
  • Anonymity if desired, and
  • The first pilot to defect with a Soviet aircraft will get an additional $50,000 bonus.

The MiG-15 aircraft performed better than Allied aircraft, even the US’ newest F-86 Sabre. Operation Moolah was designed to capture and learn the design of the MiG-15 and ultimately win over it.

The operation was unsuccessful because the Soviets grounded all flights of their MiG-15s after the leaflets were dropped. However, On September 21, 1953, a communist pilot, No Kum-suk, flew his MiG-15 from North Korea into South Korea. Kum-suk defected without knowledge of the operation nor its monetary rewards. (Source: National Interest)

Leave a Comment