Lee Seung-bok,(Korean: 이승복; December 9, 1959  – December 9, 1968) was a 9-year-old South Korean boy murdered by North Korean commandos on December 9, 1968. His murder was widely publicised throughout South Korea. In the early 1990s it was claimed that Lee had never existed and that his death was the creation of South Korean propaganda.

Lee Seung-bok
December 9, 1959
Died9 December 1968 (aged 9)
Cause of deathMurdered by North Korean commandos
Resting placeNodong-ri, Yongpyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang, South Korea
Known forMurder by North Korean commandos and use in anti-Communist propaganda

Early lifeEdit

Lee Seung-bok was the second of four children of Lee Seok-woo and Joo Dae-ha and was raised on their farm in a remote location on the north of Gyebang mountain.


On the night of 30 October 1968, 120 members of Unit 124 of the Korean People's Army landed at 8 separate locations between UlchinSamcheok in Gangwon province and moved inland on a 30-day mission to create guerilla bases in the Taebaek Mountains. On the morning of 31 October they entered several villages and began indoctrinating the villagers, several of whom slipped away to alert the authorities. Republic of Korea Army forces soon arrived in the area and began hunting down the infiltrators.[1]

On the night of 9 December several North Korean commandos burst into the Lee household demanding food and shelter. The North Koreans asked Lee Seung-bok if he preferred North Korea or South Korea, when he replied South Korea the North Koreans began to beat him. Lee then said "I hate Communists," this enraged the North Koreans who proceeded to kill Lee, his mother Joo Dae-ha (33), younger brother Lee Seung-su (7) and younger sister Lee Seung-Ja (4). Lee's father Lee Seok-woo and older brother Lee Hak-gwan managed to escape from the house and raised the alarm. The North Koreans proceeded to mutilate Lee Seung-bok's face by giving him a half Glasgow smile. The North Koreans fled the Lee house and were never identified, but they may have been among the 113 members of Unit 124 killed by South Korean forces.[2]

Conspiracy theoryEdit

In the early 1990s rumours began to circulate that Lee never existed and the story of his murder had been created by propaganda units of the South Korean military governments. In July 1999 prosecutors charged Kim Ju-eon the former general secretary of the People's Coalition for Media Reform with defamation after he included the December 11, 1968 The Chosun Ilbo report, entitled, "I Don't Like the Communist Party. A Young Mouth of Resistance Torn," in an "Exhibition of Misreporting" and called the reports of the incident a lie. In September 2002, Kim was found guilty and was sentenced to 6-months in prison. In October 2004, the Seoul Central District Court sentenced Kim to six months prison and two years probation for "spreading false facts" and concluded that the incident had taken place and that the media reports at the time were accurate.[3]


The Lee Seung-bok Memorial Center 이승복 기념관 was established in 1982 south of Lee's home in Nodong-ri, Gangwon, South Korea 37°40′19.69″N 128°27′46.05″E / 37.6721361°N 128.4627917°E / 37.6721361; 128.4627917. The memorial center contains a memorial hall showing photos and paintings of Lee's life, death and burial. The Lee family house was moved to the park from Gyebang Mountain. An outdoor static park contains a Northrop F-5, a Cessna O-1, an M4 Sherman and various artillery pieces. The graves of Lee and his family are located within the park area.


  1. ^ Bolger, Daniel (1991). Scenes from an Unfinished War: Low intensity conflict in Korea 1966–1969. Diane Publishing Co. p. Chapter 3 The Ulchin-Samcheok Landings. ISBN 978-0-7881-1208-9.
  2. ^ "Lonely funeral of Lee Seung-bok's father". Dong-A Ilbo. August 29, 2014. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  3. ^ "Report of Ghastly 1968 Murder of Boy by N. Koreans Was True". Chosun Ilbo. October 28, 2004. Retrieved September 30, 2014.