Formal Sick and Wounded Prisoner of War Exchange

"Operation Little Switch, April 20–May 3, 1953, was the exchange of sick and wounded prisoners of the Korean War. The exchange was agreed to during the truce talks at Panmunjom on April 11, following United Nations (U.N.) Commander in Chief General Mark W. Clark’s indirect approach to North Korean Premier Kim II Sung and Chinese General Peng Dehuai, which itself had developed from initiatives at the United Nations and the International Red Cross in Geneva. The Communist side repatriated 684 U.N. sick and wounded troops, while the U.N. Command (U.N.C.) returned 1,030 Chinese and 5,194 Koreans, together with 446 civilian internees. As with everything else concerning the prisoner of war (POW) issue, the exchange was marked by strong disagreement and controversy. Returning Communist prisoners tried to embarrass their captors by rejecting rations and clothing issued to them, while sensational reports appeared in the Western press alleging that numbers of sick and wounded POWs were still being held by the Communists in spite of the exchange agreements. The contentious issue that had prolonged the war for two years, that no U.N. POW would be forcibly repatriated, remained. The surprising acceptance of this exchange may well have come as a result of uncertainty over Soviet policies after the death of Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin."

Figures taken from Korean War 50th Anniversary Commemoration Site


MG Lee Sang-Jo Communist liaison officer, at exchange point, after agreeing to the UN proposal for exchange of sick and wounded prisoners. 10 APR 53