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Avatar of GI KoreaBy on June 9th, 2010 at 2:34 am

What Korean War Unit Should Tom Hanks & Steven Spielberg Make Into A HBO Mini-series?

» by in: Korean War

JoeC brought up a good question when he asked what unit from the Korean War would be a good choice for the Band of Brothers/Pacific type of HBO mini-series if one was ever to be filmed?  Below are the two units I think would be the best for such a series:

  • The 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division -  The 23rd deployed to Korea in August 1950 and thus missed the chaotic first months of the war that would make for some good television.  However, they did reach Korea in time to fight along the Pusan Perimeter, then participate in the offensive north after the Incheon Landing, and then played a key role in the Battle of Kunu-ri and UN retreat south when the Chinese entered war.  The regiment as fought in the battle of the Twin Tunnels and the most pivotal battle of the war at Chipyong-ni that turned the tide of the war against the Chinese.  The 23rd Infantry went on to fight in other battles in the UN offensive north, but Chipyong-ni was definitely the regiments greatest moment.  The 23rd also has interesting characters I think would make for good television.  First you have one of my Heroes of the Korean War, Colonel Paul Freeman who is the quintessential cool and competent leader, than you have the totally opposite type of leader with another Hero of the Korean War, the brave and flamboyant French Battalion commander Ralph Monclar.   His motley crew of French foreign legionnaires I think would only add to the great television.  To further add some interesting characters to the series during the Battle of Kunu-ri in North Korea, the Turkish Brigade along with their stoic leader Tahsin Yazici would also make for great television.
  • The 1st Marine Regiment - The opening episode of a series featuring the 1st Marine Regiment could open like Saving Private Ryan with the regiment storming the beaches of Incheon during General Douglas MacArthur’s famous Incheon Landing Operation .  I think that would be great television.  Following the invasion you then have the Marines fighting in the streets of Seoul to liberate it from the North Koreans.  Once the North Koreans begin their retreat the 1st Marine Regiment then was moved to the East coast where they were then tasked to move North into the Chosun Reservoir area where the Chinese launched their surprise attack against the Marines.  Both the lead up and then fight out of the Chosun Reservoir would make for some gripping television because it would highlight the incompetence of the senior leaders above the Marines and the bravery the Marines along with the soldiers with them had to show to escape the Chinese ambush at the reservoir.  The series could then go on to show the Marines fighting to stop the Chinese Spring Offensive and moving into the battles at the Punchbowl.  The commander of the 1st Marine Regiment was the legendary Chesty Puller who would provide plenty of great lines during the series while General Oliver Smith play the heroic and competent commander of the 1st Marine Division.  An entire episode of the series could be centered around the story of Ensign Jesse Brown as well.  Than you throw in a motley crew of Puerto Ricans and the British 41 Commandos and I think you have the makings of a great series.

Both the units would provide both a Marine Corps and Army viewpoint of the war to include some representation from other United Nations units.  The only thing missing from using these two units would be the chaotic first months of the war which probably a unit from the 24th Infantry Division would best represent.  Maybe the 1-21st Infantry Regiment?  However, I think the 23rd Infantry and 1st Marine Regiments provide a better overview of the war with characters that would translate over to television better.

So does anyone else have units they would recommend to Steven Speilberg and Tom Hanks to make into a HBO mini-series on the Korean War?

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  • KimcheeGI
    7:46 pm on June 8th, 2010 1

    187th Infantry Regiment(ABN)Rakkasan!!!

    1.UN Offensive (with arrowhead);

    2.CCF Intervention;

    3.First UN Counteroffensive (with arrowhead);

    4.CCF Spring Offensive;

    5.Korea, Summer-Fall 1952;

    6.Korea, Summer 1953

    A relatively small unit that participated in the majority of the war's campaign.

    A pipe dream would be to cover The White Tigers: United Nations Partisan Infantry Korea

  • Glans
    7:56 pm on June 8th, 2010 2

    GI Korea refers to "the incompetence of the senior leaders above the Marines". Specifically, who was incompetent?

  • tellos
    9:00 pm on June 8th, 2010 3

    If it's more like band of brother and less like The pacific, I don't mind wich regiment it is.

  • Leon LaPorte
    9:03 pm on June 8th, 2010 4

    I can't recall ever seeing any movies about Task Force Smith. That would be interesting as well as a warning regarding cutting the military in times of "peace" to cash in on the "peace dividend." Or, perhaps a movie about the Gloucester Regiment. That would be different. Obviously these would not be feel good movies.

    Maybe something focusing on the 2ID clerks and division band who were forced into the line under General Bradley around 1 September 1950.

    I guess I'm looking for something different that better captures the flavor of the war and tells stories that often haven't been told.

  • L&O
    10:09 pm on June 8th, 2010 5

    After their "The Pacific" turned out to be a colossal turkey don't expect these two to make another war miniseries EVER.

  • Tom Langley
    10:47 pm on June 8th, 2010 6

    Glans, LTG Walton Walker is an example of an incompetent leader whom after he died in a traffic accident was replaced by LTG Matthew Bunker Ridgway as commander of Allied ground forces during the Korean War.

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    10:59 pm on June 8th, 2010 7

    If you read up on the Chosin Reservoir campaign General Almond's bickering with General Smith is well known. If Smith would have listened to Almond no one may have come out of those mountains. Almond and the high command back in Tokyo all the way to General MacArthur has been long criticized for their overlooking of the Chinese forces that infiltrated into Korea despite all the front line reports telling them otherwise.

  • Chris In Dallas
    1:45 am on June 9th, 2010 8

    My vote is for the 27th Infantry Regiment, one of the few units thrown into the breech at the beginning actually prepared to fight. Special mention for Lewis Millett's bayonet charge and David Hackworth's Raiders!

  • Lemmy
    2:44 am on June 9th, 2010 9

    Remember the KOREAN WAR HERO SFC SNOOPS from the Kansas "Fantasy" National Guard? He should be the star of the show.

  • john
    5:18 am on June 9th, 2010 10

    IF they do make the series, they must include this hero: Col. Young Oak Kim.

    Just cast DDK from the Lost series as YO Kim and you are all set.

    Biggest source of complaints people have about The Pacific is a lack of character development. I think this isn't really possible because in the pacific theater there was NO unit that's similar to the Easy Company. Not a fault of the producers IMO.

  • name
    9:03 am on June 9th, 2010 11

    Follow task force smith. Start the show with them just chilling in Japan. watch them fall into the initial chaos on their march towards Osan, through the initial contact with North Korea

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    9:29 am on June 9th, 2010 12

    John, since you are a fan of Young-oak Kim I recommend you read my prior posting on him:

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    9:53 am on June 9th, 2010 13

    Name, if I was going to make a mini-series with TF Smith I would show their training in Japan, their deployment, defeat at Osan, their retreat, the Kum River defense, and then the fall of Taejon. After that the series could either follow captives in the POW camps which included the 24ID commander:

    Or continue to follow the 1-21 as it eventually went on the offensive, almost reached the Yalu on the Chinese border before the Chinese intervened and caused a massive chaotic retreat. The 1-21 then went on to fight in the western sector of the peninsula and helped pushed the Chinese back to the current DMZ.

  • Glans
    10:50 am on June 9th, 2010 14

    The incompetents, per Tom Langley 6 and GI Korea 7, were at the three to five star level. It's especially shocking in the case of MacArthur, who was so great in the Second World War.

  • Teadrinker
    12:18 pm on June 9th, 2010 15

    Well, it should be about the PPCLI, of course. :grin:

  • D Davis
    1:41 am on June 10th, 2010 16

    If the story is about the Korean War, it should be an Army unit. The Army provided approximately 86 percent of the US ground troops in Korea and suffered 86 percent of the casualties. The Marines provided approximately 14 percent and suffered 14 percent of the casualties. The Marine publicity however was in inverse proportions to their actual contributions. In short, Army PAOs have always sucked at their jobs.

  • john
    3:21 am on June 10th, 2010 17

    GI Korea,

    I've already gone through that post on your blog you mentioned. I've been all over your blog for a long time now. :) Military+History+Korea = JOY :)

    I was first exposed to Col Kim's stories here:

    On that website you can watch 10 x 1 hr long videos (or 10 x 10 min ?) of Col. Kim recalling his experience with the 442th in WW2. Really interesting stuff.

    Let me share one funny story that I learned while watching his videos.

    In the last video of the series, Col. Kim tells of a 100% native Hawaiian man who served in the 442th (Japanese-American US army unit). He was 100% Hawaiian but he had a brother of Japanese ancestry, probably through remarriage of parents. The Hawaiian man didn't want to be separated from this brother so he somehow talked his way into 442th.

    According to Col Kim, the Hawaiian had a ukulele with him all the time and played it often. Sometimes fellow soldiers hated when he played due to the unwanted attention it drew from Germans. And this Hawaiian native was not a fighter. He threw down his rifle and hugged the ground when shooting started. But the Japanese-American soldiers did love him for bring the sound from their home.

    Anyhow, I think it'd be interesting if the producers (IF they make the series) will include a story of the the KATUSA.

  • Hans Brinker
    7:15 am on June 10th, 2010 18

    In conjunction with TF Smith, I'd like to see a movie version of the book, "General Dean's Story," which is a kinda atypical POW story, and a rare foreigner's inside look into the going ons of the NKPA and their CCF allies. (It would also make a great SERE story, recognizing that Dean did go 30 days successfully evading the enemy before getting captured, and endured the war as their prisoner w/o compromising himself or his country.)

    If I can't have that, I'll gladly take a movie focusing on how U.S. forces successfully countered CCF with by executing an effective defense, specifically during the "CCF Spring Offensive" from 22-30 April, 1951. In the war genre, the public has been duped into thinking that offensive battles are the only ones that America fought. I'd like to turn this thinking around by focusing on an example when the U.S. fought and won a successful defensive battle against a numerically superior force. The CCF Spring Offensive with General Van Fleet's defense of Phase Line "No Name", followed by the Battle of the Soyang, is a textbook example of how to successfully counter a superior force.

    Instead of focusing on small unit actions, which "Band of Brothers" and "The Pacific" are a chock full of, I'd like to see a Corps-level examination of how Van Fleet made a proper estimation of the situation using METT-T to maintain and hold US/ROK positions against the single largest battle of the entire Korean War. This would be of great interest to arm chair military historians and former 11B's, like myself, around the world.

  • john
    9:18 am on June 10th, 2010 19

    And how bout an episode related to MASH? :) That will get some additional PR in US…

    But somehow I feel it will never happen. Sadly.

  • Nathan
    12:42 pm on June 10th, 2010 20

    I suppose I'd have to literally kill someone to get one made about 3RAR. Damned Australian film-makers tend to be too preoccupied doing the artsiest project that can sucker up money for.

  • Mark
    9:38 pm on November 3rd, 2010 21

    Will tom hank and steven speilberg make a miniseries on the war in Africa ?

  • JonJon
    6:48 pm on September 2nd, 2011 22

    Why would you consider doing an Army Rehgiment over the Marines? The Marines saw much of the action and deserve more recognition than the Army. I have respect for the Army and appreciate their sacrifice as well, but If they want a series with the most action and storyline they will follow a Marine Regiment.

  • Jeffrey Miller
    3:33 am on September 3rd, 2011 23

    Maybe I’ve already written the story with War Remains.

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    5:04 am on September 3rd, 2011 24

    @24 – I disagree. For example the 23rd Infantry Regiment saw just as much action as the 1st Marine Regiment. The Marines claim to fame was the Chosin Reservoir campaign during the Korean War. The 23rd Infantry was surrounded in sub-zero weather at Chipyong-ni by a vastly superior Chinese force just like the Marines were. The Marines retreated and the 23rd stayed and fought.

    As mentioned before the Marines are great at promoting themselves compared to the Army so more people have heard of the Chosin Reservoir Campaign compared to the Battle of Chipyong-ni.

  • eva
    11:17 am on September 8th, 2011 25

    i don’t think it matter which. the korean war is so neglected that i think telling any accurate story about it at allw ould do wonders just to bring it to the light. iu doubt they’ll do it because hanks is a ww2 buff, so i don’t know if he would go for this and also ww2 stories have huge audicens, i don’t know if hbo would invest in a korean series which would have less of a built in audience.

    for the record i LOVED the pacific. it was different from band of brothers because it focused on the phsycological impact of war on 3 individual marines who serves seperately, rather than an entire unit from start to finish, but i think the illustration of the personal horror and grief of war and the effect on the mind and soul was very starkly and well demonstrated in “the pacific”, and frankly it gave me nightmares for several nights after seeing it which even band of brothers didn’t do to me.

  • saw see
    8:55 pm on December 13th, 2011 26


    Korea era draftee, who NEVER saw Korea, Clnt Eastwood
    has not only been delivering skilfully demoralizing
    work for decades now —BUT, he’s deliberately BALKED
    and RUN from the –20th –30th –40th –50th and now
    60th Anniversaries of the

    ———————KOREAN WAR———————–

  • Michael
    12:58 am on January 10th, 2013 27

    I agree,Tom Hanks and Spielberg should make a Korean War mini-series because lets not forget about our Korean War veterans who fought and gave their lives for the freedom of South Korea against the the North Koreans and Chinese Reds at that Cold War time period.In fact my Mom’s Uncle who died about twenty years ago was a Korean War Veteran and POW for almost two years plus,who cares about the sensitive Chinese if the US was to make such a film,it is a part of world history that did happen.

  • SteveOhOh
    6:37 am on January 10th, 2013 28

    Wasn’t Eastwood a lifeguard in the army? If so, why would he be sent to Korea.

    I guess he could’ve been assigned as a type of SARTEC.


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