The Korean War(June 25, 1950- July 27, 1953)


(as seen in Cold War Reference Library)

June 25, 1950 Forces of communist North Korea invade pro-U.S. South Korea, starting the Korean War.
October 24, 1950 U.S. forces push the North Korean army back to the border with China, sparking a Chinese invasion one week later and forcing the United States into a hasty retreat.
June 21, 1951 The Korean War reaches a military stalemate at the original boundary between North and South Korea.
June 27, 1953 An armistice is signed, bringing a cease-fire to the Korean War.

The S. Korean Flag was officially adopted on January 25, 1950.

The N.Korean Flag was officially adopted on September 9, 1948.

The Beginning

  • The Korean War officially began on June 25th, 1950 when North Korea launched an attack on South Korea. Five days prior, on June 20th, Dean Rusk of the State Department had told Congress that war was unlikely. However, a CIA report in March predicted a June invasion.
  • This surprise attack began yet another proxy war between the USSR and America. At the end of World War II, Korea was controlled by Japan. Japanese troops north of the 38th parallel surrendered to the Soviets while Japanese troops south of the 38th parallel surrendered to America. The USSR naturally supported Communist North Korea while America supported South Korea (which may or may not have been democratic at this point, depending on which source you read).
  • At the end of World War II, America removed most of their troops from South Korea, leaving only about 500. America also publicly stated they would not go to war over Korea. This appears to have encouraged North Korea and the Soviets to use this as an opportunity to invade South Korea to reunite the country as one Communist nation.

external image korean-war4.gif

What Happened

  • At first, the North Korean forces quickly moved through South Korea.
  • This caused South Korea to ask the United Nations for support. At this point, the USSR was boycotting United Nations meetings and China was represented by Chiang Kai-shek (the Nationalist). Thus, the only opposition to helping South Korea received was a veto by Yugoslavia.
  • 520,000 troops were then sent to South Korea, headed by Douglas MacArthur, the World War II Pacific war hero.
  • At first, the North Koreans continued pushing south, pushing the South Koreans to a city called Pusan (alternately spelled Busan) at the southernmost tip of the Korean peninsula.
  • MacArthur then launched a counterattack on September 15, 1950, by sending some troops to Incheon, which is located on Korea's western coast. Meanwhile, the remaining troops pushed northward from Pusan. This style of attack came as a surprise to the North Koreans. About half surrendered then, while the other half fled northward, back across the 38th parallel.
  • The United Nations forces chased the North Koreans as they fled. China warned they would strike back if the UN forces neared the Yalu River, which forms most of the North Korean- Chinese border. China feared that America would also declare war on China. However, the United Nations troops did not heed the warning and continued forward.
  • In late November 1950, 300,000 Chinese troops joined the war. Using sheer numbers, the Chinese were able to push the United Nations out of North Korea by January 1951. At some points, Chinese forces actually outnumbered UN forces ten to one. As the Chinese continued South, they captured Seoul, South Korea's capital, once again.
  • The war continued for two more years. Neither side was able to make significant progress.
  • MacArthur suggested bringing the war directly into China, using nuclear weapons on the cities to get the war over with. Truman rejected MacArthur's idea because the Soviet Union had a mutual-assistance pact with China. Declaring war on China would start a World War III.
  • The UN and South Korean forces opted to try advancing north once more. By April 1951, Seoul was recaptured and the border was once again at the 38th parallel.
  • MacArthur was unhappy with simply recapturing South Korea. We spoke and wrote to newspapers, magazines and Republican officials. MacArthur was repeatedly told he did not have the authority to act in such a manner that was trying to go over the presidents head (the president was most definitely his superior as well). MacArthur was fired on April 11, 1951 and a nationwide poll showed that about 69% of Americans still supported him, despite his actions, since he was the Pacific hero.
  • As the spotlight dimmed on the MacArthur controversy, the Soviet Union suggested a cease fire unexpectedly, on June 23, 1951. Truce talks began the following month.

The End (not really)

The plaque below this sculpture reads: In remembrance of the Korean soldiers and UN military participants who lost their lives in the Korean War, the respect towards the warriors (1,300 identification tags) has been embodied as tear drops. The iron thorns symbolise the horror, suppression and danger of the tragic war. The circle on the sand below represents the wave of the drop.

  • An armistice was finally signed in July 1953.
  • It had two major points: creating the cease fire line at the 38th parallel, where the current border was, and establishing a demilitarized zone (DMZ) as a buffer zone between the two Koreas.
  • The cease fire was not a victory for either side and did not actually end the war. Korea was still split into two nations, one Communist, one Democratic.Many families were torn apart by the war. Some fled south while others stayed in the North, hoping the war would end and they would be reunited. The two Koreas still occasionally try to have talks to reunite the nations as one. However, they have yet to be successful. Instead, the two are constantly threatening each other with war, with many minor skirmishes provoked by North Korea making it into international news. North Korea also still holds the threat of nuclear war over the head of the world.

"Tower of Korean War symbolizing image of a bronze sword and a tree of life"


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