The unnecessary uprising: Jeju Island rebellion and South Korean counterinsurgency experience 1947-48

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This paper systematically analyzes the causes of the escalation of violence during the initial stages of the Jeju Island Rebellion and the failure of South Korean counterinsurgency operations. It is argued that four interrelated factors provided the conditions for armed insurgency in the small island of Jeju: inter-agency tension between the Korean National Police (KNP) and the Korean Constabulary; the mainlanders' misinterpretation of the insurgency; the effect of systematic police brutality; and the role of youth groups. Consequently, two counterinsurgency lessons will be drawn from this study: that inter-agency cooperation and coordination at the tactical level between security branches and the incorporation of local population at the micro-level is essential in conducting efficient and effective counterinsurgency operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-381
Number of pages23
JournalSmall Wars and Insurgencies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2010


  • Counter-insurgency (COIN)
  • Inter-agency tension
  • Jeju Island rebellion
  • Korean Constabulary
  • Korean National Police (KNP)
  • Pseudo-gangs/youth groups
  • Violence escalation

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