The Korean Ax Incident – Operation Paul Bunyan

The Korean Ax Incident - Operation Paul Bunyan

This specific poplar tree was a problem for the United Nations Command.

Standing at 80-feet tall, it obstructed the view of a checkpoint at the mouth of the Bridge of No Return, the most volatile area of the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

American soldiers, accompanied by South Korean civilians armed with axes and equipment for trimming the tree, set out of the Joint Security Area to execute the deed. They had no idea what they were about to unleash.

What followed was bizarre. North Korean guards, armed with poles and axes, arrived at the area near the tree and attacked the group of soldiers and civilians before they could defend themselves.

None of the 15 men that ventured into the DMZ thought that the world would be set ablaze, at the brink of a Nuclear Apocalypse, over a poplar tree in Korea’s border.

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  1. I was a child in school Soul Korea, Yongsan Army base when this event happened. Seoul is not far from the DMZ too. All schools were closed and we stood ready for a possible war and family evacuation with busses and helicopters ready in Yongsan army base commissary (Grocery Store) and planes ready in Osan Korea. The north Koreans had axes and manchettes and killed the senior officer on the scene first as he was the only one that could give the command to fire guns…no one else could give that order but only the senior officer on the scene. The North Koreans knew this and their plan was to take out the senior officer first. There was nothing to do for the Americans and South Koreans but run as they were way out numbered and could not use their weapons… there was no code but orders. The North Koreans liked that tree as it obscured the guard post at the bridge. That was a huge event in Korea and it was serious with many armed B-52 bombers and fighter planes overhead, ships, missiles, tanks…. all at the ready. Those South Korean armed forces and Special forces, were are are bad asses too… not to be underestimated. I was privileged to visit the DMZ a few months after this event and saw the large tree stump. There were sucker limbs growing out all around the top and sides as the tree was trying to recover being cut down.

  2. NK: Ei Man they return for cut the tree.
    NK leader: That's my tree, kill then.
    NK soldier: Sir they have 50 helicopters, thousands of man's, jet fighters and nuclear weapon ready.
    NK leader: You sure they want the tree?
    NK Soldier: yes Sir.
    NK leader: Dammm that was close. Fk the Tree

  3. "bellow to democracy" wtf . lol SK was a dictatorship before and after the war.. NK was defy communist but they defy had more "democracy' then the south at the time

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