Carl Mydans and David Douglas Duncan

When the Korean War broke out, Mydans was coming to the end of his assignment in Tokyo as TIME-LIFE bureau chief. He was in New York doing a radio program on Korea when, right before going on the air, a reporter told him that North Korea had invaded South Korea. As soon as he got the news, Mydans made a call to his supervisor at LIFE and was told to prepare to return to Asia as soon as he finished the interview.
David Douglas Duncan was working in Japan at the time and flew to Korea. Once General MacArthur flew in from Tokyo, Duncan introduced himself explaining that he was with LIFE magazine and that he would be replacing Carl there. MacArthur replied that he was welcome there, but he was not replacing Mydans since he was already on his way back from New York.
In an interview by Philip B. Kunhardt Jr., Mydans was asked which photographers he admired most. Among the photojournalists, Duncan was his number-one choice. The reasons are as follow: Duncan is a good photographer, a photojournalist of the first order, a storyteller, a compassionate man, a courageous man. In Carl's own words, "My years have been spent as a photojournalist, and a photojournalist is a storyteller—that is what I am, a storyteller. And David is a storyteller."
David Douglas Duncan was a World War II Marine veteran. From July 1950 to January 1951, he covered the Korean War for LIFE magazine, focusing mainly on the Marine Corps. Most of the images can be found in his book, This Is War! A Photo-Narrative in Three Parts (1951).
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Mydans, Carl
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 27.7 cm x 35.7 cm; 10 7/8 in x 14 1/16 in
place made
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Carl Mydans
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Carl Mydans
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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