KOREAN WAR “The Forgotten War” Anna Cassels 1950-1953
Korea is a little peninsula bordered by China, Japan, and Russia. Because of this, Koreans have frequently had difficulty keeping other countries away and have often fallen under control of adjoining empires.
In 1904, the Japanese captured Korea, as many countries had done. This took place until the end of the second world war.
The Soviet Union and the United States made a agreement with each other to force the Japanese out of Korea. Together, the United States and the Soviet Union succeeded in freeing Korea from Japanese rule.
However, as part of the agreement to form an alliance, the Soviet Union would sustain the top half of Korea after the war, and the United States would do the same thing in the bottom half. The dividing line was known as the 38th parallel.
In North Korea, where the Soviets had been, a communist government was left behind. The United States left behind a democratic system.
Because the two separate governments were left behind and Korea had been split into North Korea and South Korea, each side wished to unite all of Korea again under their own form of government.
North Korea formed as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and Kim Sung II was chosen as leader; prime minister.
In South Korea, Syngman Rhee became president. North Korea wanted to join Korea as communist, while South Korea wished to bring democracy to all of Korea.
As disagreement grew, the two sides became more violent. The United States also restricted the amount of weapons given to South Korea in fear of Syngman Rhee leading an attack on North Korea.
A second reason for limiting weapons was a new policy in the United States regarding Asia. The Soviets had developed a nuclear bomb by 1949.
The communists in China and the Soviet Union were also powerful. The United States felt the best way to aid the area would be non-military in hopes of avoiding further wars.
The United States would protect Japan, The Rykus Islands, and the Philippine Islands if attacked by communists, but not Korea.
Unfortunately, North Korea had strategies of their own. When Secretary of State Dean Acheson said Korea would not be included in the new security policy, this further provoked North Korea into an assault.
On June 25th, 1950, North Korean armies crossed the 38th parallel, in hopes of unifying Korea by force. The Korean War had begun.
World War II separated Korea into a Communist, northern half and an American-occupied southern half, divided at the 38th parallel. The Korean War (1950-1953) began when the North Korean Communist army crossed the 38th Parallel, which is an imaginary division between North and South Korea, and invaded non-Communist South Korea.
As Kim II-Sung's North Korean army, equipped with Soviet tanks, quickly overran South Korea, the United States came to South Korea's aid. General Douglas MacArthur commanded the US forces which now began to hold off the North Koreans, at the southernmost tip of Korea.
With the United States, United Nations, and South Korean (ROK) forces pinned against the sea at Pusan, MacArthur arranged a daring assault on Inchon, a port on the western coast of Korea. Having made this landing, MacArthur crushed the North Korean army in a pincer movement and recaptured Seoul, the capital of South Korea.
Instead of being satisfied with his rapid invasion of South Korea, MacArthur crossed the 38th Parallel and pursued the North Korean army all the way to the northernmost territory of North Korea. Although President Truman hoped to end the war quickly and pressed MacArthur to be more tactful, the brilliant strategist went against presidential orders and continued to talk about his hopes to reunify Korea.
After gaining the support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Truman relieved MacArthur of command. The move was extremely unpopular in America; MacArthur was perceived as a popular war hero. Only the support of the JCS saved Truman from impeachment after the firing.
Ridgway took MacArthur's command and held off the Communists with strong defenses and entrenchments just north of the 38th Parallel, sending occasional offensives against the Iron Triangle, the Communists staging area for attacks into South Korea.
Peace negotiations dragged on at Kaesong, then moved and continued to drag at Panmunjom through 1951 and 1952. The US tried using planned bombing to intimidate the Communists into negotiating a peace treaty, but they wouldn't budge, particularly on the issue of Prisoner of War repatriation.
Neither side wanted to appear weak so the talks went on, occasionally breaking down for months. Only after Eisenhower, who was a war hero, became President, could the US make substantial recognition to the Communists. In 1953 a peace treaty was signed at Panmunjom that ended the Korean War, returning Korea to a divided status essentially the same as before the war.
The outcome of the Korean War was a truce or cease fire to an inconclusive conflict with no victory. Korea still remained divided between a Communist North and a non-Communist South, with the dividing line between them almost exactly where it was before. Therefore it was a successful defense of South Korea's territory. The Korean War was a deadlock, it didn’t end far from where it started. Half of Koreas industry and a third of all homes were destroyed. There were 4 million military and civilian casualties: 33,600 Americans, 16,000 UN allies, 415,000 South Koreans, 520,000 North Koreans and 900,000 Chinese.
25 Jun 50 - North Korean People's Army invades South Korea
Sign erected by 1st Cavalry Division at 38th Parallel showing where the Korean conflict began
27 Jun 50 - UN asks member countries to aid Republic of Korea - US announces intervention. North Korea attacks Seoul airfield.
28 Jun 50 - US bombers attack troops in Han River area - North Korean army captures Seoul
4 Aug 50 - Pusan perimeter established in southeastern Korea
7 Oct 50 - UN forces cross 38th parallel
14 Oct 50 - Chinese Communist troops cross Yalu River into Korea
4 Jan 51 - Seoul captured by Chinese
25 Jan 51 - UN forces resume offensive
1 Mar 51 - UN line reaches between the 37th and 38th Parallels
18 Mar 51 - UN forces retake Seoul
11 Apr 51 - MacArthur recalled - General Matthew Ridgway given command
13 Jun 51 - UN forces dig in on the 38th Parallel
23 Sep 51 - UN forces take Heartbreak Ridge after 18-day battle
27 Nov 51 - Truce talks resume at Panmunjom
26 Apr 53 - Full peace talks resume at Panmunjom
14 Jun 53 - Communist offensive pushes Republic of Korea troops south
18 Jun 53 - South Koreans release 27,000 North Korean POWs, who refuse repatriation
25 Jun 53 - "Little Truce Talks" secure Republic of Korea's acceptance of armistice. Chinese launch massive attacks against South Korean divisions.
10 Jul 53 - Communists return to negotiations
27 Jul 53 - Cease fire signed - fighting ends 12 hours later
Map of Korea
The Korean War began on June 25, 1950 when North Korea and the United States crossed over the 38th Parallel into the South Korean territory. Rushing down the Parallel was a force of 89,000 men—a force made up of seven infantry divisions, three independent infantry regiments, and150 tanks. The attack struck at four points along the Parallel. The North Korean troops attacked the Ongjin Peninsula, Seol, Chunchon, and Hongchon.
Harry S. Truman served as the Vice President for Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, on April 12, 1945 Truman Became the President of the United States. In response to the invasion of South Korea by the North Korean army, President Truman acted quickly and declared a state of national emergency n June 27, 1950.
General Douglas Macarthur was placed in command of an American-led alliance of United Nations forces, MacArthur reversed the dire military situation in the early months of the war with a brilliant amphibious assault behind North Korean lines at the Port of Inchon.
After World War II Syngman Rhee became a leader in South Korea under U.S. occupation. In 1948, Syngman Rhee was elected the first president of South Korea, which he ruled with a strong hand for twelve critical years.
Kim Il Sung was named prime minister of North Korea in 1948 and later (in 1972 under a new constitution) as president of the nation. Kim Sung II is known as the “Great Leader” in North Korea, he isolated the country from the outside world during his long term in office and was the commanding leader for North Korea during the Korean War.
A Corsair guides part of the armada assembled for the Inchon invasion on September 15, 1950, the world’s last great amphibious landing, lead by General Douglas MacArthur.--- Primary Source
“ Causes of the Korean War”. http:// www.learnkoreanlanguage.com /causes-of-the- koreanwar.html
Isserman, Maurice. Korean War . New York. 2003, 1992.
Matray, James. Korea Divided “The 38 th Parallel and the Demilitarized Zone”. Chelsea House Publishers, 2005.
Dolan, Edward. America in the Korean War . Connecticut: The Millbrook Press, Inc., 1998.
The Korean War “History and Tactics”. London: Orbis Publishing, 1984.