The Korean WarThe Korean War
The Korean War was the first war in which
the United Nations played a major role in. It was also part of the
cold war between the US and Soviet Union. One of the deadliest war
in history, it took many lives in such a short span of time of three years.
Even after all these deaths, the conflict isn’t completely resolved in
Korea. There are still American troops stationed in South Korea,
in case the Communists decide to take aggressive action.
In WW II, Japan had gained control in
Korea. At the end, when Japan was defeated by the Allies, the US
and Soviet forces moved in Korea . Korea was divided to serve as
the purpose to move the Japanese troops out. The line which was at
the 38th parallel divided the country in about half. The Soviet forces
were responsible for the north and the US for the south part of Korea.
Later, this partition was made permanent. In 1947, the UN declared
for elections to be held in all of Korea to decide one government for the
country. However, North Korea refused to take part in the elections
and didn’t allow it. So on May 10, 1948, South Korea voted for a
national assembly which set up the Republic of Korea. On September
9, North Korea set up the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
North and South Korea claimed the whole country and their troops fought
several times between 1948-1950. The US removed it’s troops from
South Korea in 1949. It also said that Korea was outside of US defense
line. North Korea saw it’s chance for military action to take over
In June 1950, North Korea surprised South
Korea with an attack. At the time, the North Korean Army had 135,000
soldiers, most of them veterans of WW II. It also had airplanes,
tanks, and artillery that outnumbered South Korea by three to one.
On the other hand, South Korea had 65,000 combat troops who had small arms
and light artillery. On the day the war began, the UN Security Council
issued a resolution demanding the Communist retreat back to the 38th parallel.
The Soviet Union was a permanent member of the Security Council.
However, it didn’t go to the meeting because it had been boycotting the
Council meetings. This was because the Council was denying the Communist
Chinese government. If the Soviet Union had been there, it could
have voted against the resolution or deliver a veto. North Korea
chose to disregard the resolution. On June 27, North Korean troops
reached South Korea’s capital, Seoul. Seoul fell in four days.
In the US, President Truman and the UN took action to stop North Korea
from advancing. President Truman, going by his containment policy,
sent US air and naval forces to help South Korea. The UN also asked
its members to help South Korea. On June 30, Truman ordered the first
ground troops to go to South Korea. General Douglas Macarthur was
the commander of the ground forces. Congress supported Truman but
didn’t officially declare war on North Korea. Other troops from UN
nations began soon after the US. Part of the US army on July 1, came
from Japan to southernmost Korea at Pusan. Soon, these troops very
moving close to south of Seoul. The first fight that took place between
the US and North Korea was at Osan, south of Seoul. North Korea had
already surpassed Seoul. On July 7, Truman named General MacArthur
the commander of UN Commands. He had control over all of the
forces in South Korea. By August 2, the North Korean army had advanced
to the Pusan Perimeter. The Pusan Perimeter was on the southeast
corner of South Korea. This was one of the many turning points in
the war because the North Koreans lost nearly 58,000 people. The
UN ground forces were led by General Walker who attacked the North Koreans
with reserves. US planes helped out by destroying the enemy from
above. On August 6, the North Koreans succeeded in crossing the river
that stopped them from reaching Pusan. However, the UN forces counterattacked
and pushed them back on August 25. North Korea tried to attack the
Pusan Perimeter again on September 3, but the UN forces stopped them on
Another turning point came on September
15, 1950 at the Inchon Landing. This was personally handled by General
MacArthur. He had to take special precautions because of the tides
at Inchon which could have trapped the boats with soldiers in it.
These troops stopped the advancing North Koreans to reach Pusan Perimeter.
MacArthur led the troops to recapture Seoul from North Koreans on September
26. General Walker’s troops defeated the enemies they were fighting
at the Pusan Perimeter. Walker and MacArthur joined at Seoul and
demanded the surrender of North Korea. In late September, the UN
forces decided to invade North Korea. By October 19, South Korean
troops had captured the capital of North Korea, Pyongyang. This forced
the North Koreans to retreat north. The two troops led by MacArthur
and Walker split. MacArthur went northeastern towards the North Korea-China
border. The other went in to northeastern parts of North Korea.
Despite Chinese warnings, MacArthur ordered the troops to go on until they
fought the Chinese on October 25. On November 6, the Chinese decided
to withdraw. Convinced that his troops outnumbered the Chinese, MacArthur
ordered to attack on November 24. In reality, China had a force of
300,000 which it sent on November 26 and 27 to defeat the UN forces.
On December 4, the UN forces began to withdraw from Pyongyang. Meanwhile,
the North Koreans advanced forward and took Seoul by January 4, 1951.
The UN forces withdrawal ended on January 10.
After Walker was killed in an accident,
Lieutenant Ridgway took over. With his leadership, the Allied troops
caused serious damage to the North Koreans and started to move north once
again on January 16,1951. Ridgway came up with a new way to defeat
the enemy which was going slower to kill a lot of the enemies. Once
again, the troops captured Seoul on March 14. The war took a slight
turn. Both sides were no fighting on the sides of the 38th parallel.
Sometimes this duration of time is called “Battle for the Hills”.
On April 11, 1951, Truman suspended MacArthur from command. This
was because MacArthur wanted to use bombs on Manchuria which would directly
involve China. Truman’s administrations disagreed because they were
afraid of another World War. He was replaced with Ridgway.
Even though peace talks began in July,
the war went on for two more long years. On June 23, 1951, a Soviet
delegate to the UN encouraged cease-fire. The talks started on July
10. An agreement that the 38th parallel would be the division of
Korea was nearly made on November 27. This couldn’t happen because
a truce had to be reached in 30 days. Several things stopped this
from happening. The UN wanted the prisoners of both sides to choose
where to go, since a lot of the prisoners didn’t want to go back under
communist rule. The Communists couldn’t agree because then they would
be admitting that communism had failed. This conflict ceased the
truce talks in April 1952. On October 8, the UN were forced to delay
the talks because of voluntary repatriation. The death of Stalin
in 1953 encouraged the Soviets to go ahead with the peace talks.
Finally on March 28, the Communists agreed to exchange sick and injured
prisoners. Between April and May, 684 sick and injured prisoners
were received for the return of 6,670 communist prisoners. Later,
on April 26, the communists agreed with voluntary repatriation. An
armistice was signed on July 27, 1953. In 1954, Soviet and UN nations
met in Switzerland to decide a permanent peace plan. This never happened
because questions still remained about the unification of Korea.
There were many outcomes to this war; however,
they weren’t very good. The US spent $67 billion on the war.
Korea was heavily damaged and their property damages were more than one
billion dollars. About one million Korean civilians were killed.
This doesn’t even include the soldiers who gave up their lives. There
were about 580,000 UN and South Korean troops killed and 1,600,000 Communists
were killed. After all these deaths, Korea ended up being the way
it was when the war started. One outcome remains to be decided and
dealt with. It’s if North and South Korea will ever reach peace because
even today American troops are stationed there, just in case.
Gardner, Lloyd C. ” The Korean
War. ” The World Book Encyclopedia. London: Scott
Fetzer, 1989, Vol 11.
Middleton, Harry J. The Compact
History of the Korean War. New York: Hawthorn Books,