A Korean mother flees the fighting around Seoul

Carl Mydans covered the Korean War for almost a year between 1950 and 1951. During that period, Seoul changed hands four times. By March of 1951, the city was in ruins, mostly destroyed in vicious street battles. Its prewar population dropping from 1.5 million inhabitants to a mere 200,000 plagued by massive food shortages. Throughout the war, Mydans witnessed how millions of Koreans were uprooted from their homes by bombing, shelling, or fear, and recorded their attempts to flee to safety.
Currently not on view
Date made
Mydans, Carl
place made
Taehan Min'guk: Sŏul-t'ŭkpyŏlsi, Seoul
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 14 in x 9 3/4 in; 35.56 cm x 24.765 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Carl Mydans
Data Source
National Museum of American History


"This photo made me break into tears. My mother is from Seoul and she has told me bits and pieces about the journey she and her family made in - I believe 1950 - when she was 11 yrs old. She describes leaving the city and coming to a bridge where snipers were killing civilians trying to cross. They passed a dead mother with a crying baby wrapped to her body and my mom, a little girl, wanted to stop and take the baby and her family would not allow it. I would like to know if other people have family stories about this and validate the timeline. My mother is still with me but her memories are not exact. "

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