Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Korean War Propaganda
Erin Garvey
American History
Time Frame:
1- 45 minute class period for the activity, with a quick review on types of propaganda before the lesson.
Korean War

Grade Levels:
8, 9

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • The students will analyze primary source documents (Korean War propaganda leaflets).
  • The students will participate in small group discussion to achieve a common goal.
  • Propaganda is discussed in 8th grade Communication Arts; a cross-curricular approach can be taken.

  • To help the students gain a better understanding of the Korean War through the viewpoints of many different people.  Also, the students will learn about propaganda methods and types of propaganda.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:


2. continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world

7. the use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)


Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the Cold War (1945-1990).

3. (A) evaluates the foreign policies of Truman and Eisenhower during the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the United Nations, containment, NATO, Truman Doctrine, Berlin Blockade, Korean War, Iron Curtain, U-2 incident).

 Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

1. (A) analyzes a theme in United States history to explain patterns of continuity and change over time.

2. (A) develops historical questions on a specific topic in United States history and analyzes the evidence in primary source documents to speculate on the answers.

3. (A) uses primary and secondary sources about an event in U.S. history to develop a credible interpretation of the event, evaluating on its meaning (e.g., uses provided primary

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • North Korean propaganda leaflets- created by US military
  • Chinese propaganda leaflets-created by US military

Full description of activity or assignment.
  • Students will first get an overview of propaganda.  This can be done in social studies class or in a cross-curricular way- maybe a partnership with their communication arts classes.  At the beginning of the next full class period, the teacher will split the students into small groups.  Each group will be given a variety of propaganda leaflets from the Korean War. Together they will analyze the documents and answer questions about each cartoon. The teacher will be facilitating this by walking around the class and observing the groups. When they are done, have each group share one cartoon.  The teacher should ask a few questions of the group: Which type of propaganda was used, what is the message, do you think the propaganda was effective?  Students will turn in their worksheets at the end of class for the assessment.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • I will assess the students first by walking around the room and observing the small groups working.  The formative assessment will be the completed worksheet and the presentation of their findings to the class.  Did they come to agreement?  What was the group’s overall feeling about the effectiveness of the leaflets?


Korean War Propaganda Leaflets


Please answer the following questions about your leaflet.  This is a group activity.  Make sure everyone in the group agrees with the answers.

  1. What is the first thing you notice about the leaflet?
  2. Who is the audience?
  3. Determine the type of propaganda.
  4. Describe the artwork.
  5. What is the message?  Is it easily understood?
  6. What symbolism is used to help the reader understand the message?
  7. How do you think the army gets the information to put on the leaflets?
  8. How would you distribute the leaflets to the North Korean & Chinese soldiers?
  9. Do you think this type of warfare is effective?
  10. If you were a North Korean soldier, what type of things would you put on a leaflet directed at the American troops?