The Course of the Korean WarChapter 3Prepared by:HAFIDZ HAKIMI BIN HARONLLB (Hons.) IIUMAdvocate and Solicitor ,High Court of Malaya
This topic is all about ….. Why North Korea initially so successful in 1950? How and why did the forces of the UN defeat North Korea in the autumn of 1950? Why and with what consequences did Chinese forces intervene? Why did President Truman dismiss General McArthur in April 1950
The general Sequence •25 June: North Korea invades South Korea. •July: first encounters of US troops with North Korean Army •August/September : Fierce attacks on Pusan Perimeter. •15 September: Inchon landing of the US forces •October: US invaded North Korea; captured Pyongyang; Chinese launch limited offensive near border.1950 •November: Massive Chinese attack on UN forces. •December: Chinese move through North Korea and push further south. General Walker killed, replaced by General Matthew Ridgeway • January: Chinese occupy Seoul. • February/March: Chinese advance stopped and Seoul recaptured.1951 • April: MacArthur sacked • June: USA, Russia and Chinese indicate willingness for ceasefire • Lengthy arguments over prisoners hold up peace • June: US begins heavy bombing of North Korea1952 • November: Eisenhower elected president • January: Eisenhower takes over Truman • March: Stalin dies1953 • July: Armistice signed at Panmunjom
The North Korean offensive; June –September 1950 The offensive begun at 4am of June 25 – with devastating barrage on South Korean troops. Kim Il Sung finally launching all out assault to reunite the Korean peninsular. North Korean army were well equipped and well armed; 7 divisions of armies with heavy artillery and air support. – comprising 135,000 men. Most of them are combat veterans in the Chinese civil war Initially Kim Il Sung anticipated the conquest will only take 3 weeks.
The North Korean offensive; June –September 1950 : Defenders South Korean were under equipped and poorly trained. Also inferior in numbers compared to its nemesis : 95,000. Morale among the army personnel were also considerably low; many of them were peasants conscripts, with little reason to fight for their corrupt government and officers. Seoul taken on 29th June 1950. – which Kim‟s planned to conquer the whole peninsula in 3 weeks initially seems in hand. 24th division of US army were rushed to reinforce the South Korean defenders. However, the division was under-strength and inadequately trained. Their arms (bazookas) was also ineffective against Soviet-made T-34 tanks. Douglas MacArthur had clearly underestimate the North Korean‟s military capability, and he had also overestimated the impact of the US troops.
The North Korean offensive; June –September 1950 : Defenders As the initial reinforcement had failed to outfight North Korean attacks, they had been forced to retreat. Later, Douglas MacArthur had appointed General Walton Parker to command the US 8th Army in Korea, based at the port of Pusan. He was reinforced by the 25th Infantry division and 1st Cavalry division, and more on the way. Toughness of the US army‟s morale was also questionable, compared to the North Korean army which appear to be mentally stronger. Even though North Korean army keep advancing to the South, they were also facing difficulties in terms of supply and threats from the US artillery bombing along the way. However, in early August the US and the ROK forces had been forced back to Pusan Perimeter.
The North Korean offensive; June –September 1950 : Defenders As the North Korean army had reached Pusan, a five weeks of bitter fighting took place. However at this instance; the US army had already been equipped by better arms and equipment to counter the North Korean T-34 tanks. The US also have sea and air superiority. Thus, the initial Kim‟s plan to conquer the whole Korea peninsula within 3 weeks had failed. Apart from the war, atrocities were everywhere. The North Korean army and the South Korean secret police unjustifiably arrested and prosecuted numbers of civilian for mere suspicion of swearing allegiance to the opposing side. Still, in terms of brutality, the South Korean secret police were not a match to its north counterpart. Between June- September alone; Kim‟s forces had killed 26,000 civilians in cold blood.
The North Korean offensive; MacArthur‟scounterstroke, September 1950. Douglas MacArthur basically was an exceptional General; he often regarded as national institution, as he was seen as a man who beaten Japanese in the pacific during world war II. He possessed a great flair for publicity as well as military ability. He openly despised politicians and Truman in particular, but he was well respected by the US military leaders. As the ruler of conquered Japan since 1945, McArthur had acted like a true sovereign, which he had often disregard executive orders by Washington and treated it as a mere suggestions. His desire to use Taiwan‟s Chiang Kai Shek‟s troops in the Korean war had brings concerns for Truman and Dean Acheson. Chiang Kai Shek however, found MacArthur‟s desire was compelling; since Taiwan‟s intervention in the war might inviting Chinese direct involvement to the conflict. Thus, it might provoke a direct US-Chinese conflict, which represents Chiang Kai Shek‟s a window of opportunity to re-install his nationalist government in the mainland China as he will receives military backing from the US as well. However, Acheson determined to prevent this as it will broadening the war, and Truman had directly forbid the use of Chinese Nationalist soldiers. – MacArthur reluctantly agreed to abide the order.
The Inchon landing It was Douglas MacArthur‟s plan as to counter North Korean‟s Army offensive. It was incredibly risky by nature, and the North Koreans would mined the landing area. However Douglas McArthur was certain that the landing at Inchon would work, as he had promised to liberate Seoul within Three months of the start of the war. Amazingly, Kim Il Sung‟s troops was taken by surprise. – the harbor was not mined at all. As Inchon‟s landing was a success, the US army march to Seoul where a bitter fighting taken place; where North Koreans reinforcement were rushed to defend the city. Massive bombings was used in order to weaken North Korean‟s army in Seoul. North Korean Army in South Korea were beginning to collapse, and Kim Ill Sung‟s army retreated back to the 38th parallel, as the US army in Pusan broke out the perimeter and chasing them out from the south. The success of this military operation had envisioned MacArthur to deliberate the whole Korean Peninsula. After his victory at Inchon, he was more than ever untouchable and difficult to control,
The decision to move North of the 38thParallel : The risk of China‟s involvement inKorea The greatest risk of all; it will provoke Chinese intervention to the conflict. In order to conquer the whole Korean peninsula, it will bring the US troops to the Yalu river, just south of the China‟s border. At the time, there were already numbers of China‟s army divisions in Manchuria, just north of the Yalu river. On 1 October, some South Korean units crossed the 38th Parallel to the North Korea. The next day, Zhou Enlai, then the Chinese Prime minister issued a warning through the Indian ambassador in Beijing, that; if the US troops crossed the border, China would be force to intervene the war. However this warning was not treated seriously by the US administration, while Douglas MacArthur himself had dismissed such threat as he believes China will not intervene in the conflict. MacArthur however was determined to complete his triumph of Inchon by „rolling back communism‟ from North Korea. At the moment, MacArthur also enjoys enormous support within the US general public and from the China lobby. – which a direct conflict can bring Chiang Kai Shek back to rule mainland China.
The decision to move North of the 38thParallel : The American decision to invadeNorth Korea Militarily speaking, it is unwise to stop the advance and wait for the North Korean to recover, which they might then attack again. Americans also believed that since the Soviet had lost their credibility due to the breach of 1945 agreement (by sanctioning Kim‟s assault on South Korea), then the Soviet should take the consequences and the loss of North Korea from their sphere of influence. They were also suggestion from the groups in the US state department that “it was essential to respond to challenges from Moscow with a hard-hitting response in order to discourage such adventures (sanctioning assault on another country)” There were also growing anti-communist lobby in the USA, which urged tougher line on Moscow (the Soviet). Public opinion in the US also favoring invasion on North Korea. Even though Washington‟s had ordered MacArthur to show some restrained, however, the order was ambiguous. Thus, it was open to MacArthur‟s own interpretation which he thinks suited him.
The decision to move North of the 38thParallel : The American decision to invadeNorth Korea Apart from the possible Chinese intervention in the conflict; the US also faced some other obstacles; regarding to supply and communications in invading North Korea. (Winter, few roads, mountainous) However MacArthur confidently brushed asides those problems, while insisting that the Chinese will not intervene the war. Due to the poor intelligence, he had underestimated the numbers and quality of Chinese troops in Manchuria. Thus, to him victory is secured. MacArthur tried to repeat his success on Inchon landing by making another, this time in Wonsan. However, unlike Inchon, Wonsan was mined by the North Koreans. When the minesweeper had clear those mines, the UN forces had captured the harbor from the land. MacArthur failed to add his glory this time. By the end of October, the narrowest point in the Korean peninsular had been reached, (Port of Chong ju to Port of Hungnam) which is the obvious place to stop their advance, and draw their defensive line. By stopping there, it will only left Kim Il Sung with a rump state, protecting Chinese and Russian interest. – which is a sensible thing to do.
The decision to move North of the 38thParallel : The American decision to invadeNorth Korea However, despite all of the suggestions to stop, MacArthur had ordered his ground commanders to advance to the Yalu. On 1-2 November, out of nowhere; a large force of Chinese troops begun their attack. Over 150,000 Chinese troops had crossed into Korea. US troops tooks casualities. However, by the end of the first week in November, the Chinese broke off their attacks and seems to withdraw into the border hills. Believing that the Chinese forces had been defeated and withdrawn, MacArthur had ordered his troops to march further north. - MacArthur just fell into the Chinese bait. Those attacks were just intended to draw MacArthur forces to the North, as the US troops will faced one of the greatest ambushes of all time.
The Impact of China‟s involvement in thewar; Why did China intervene? This decision was not easy to made by the Chinese Politburo, as; ◦ Chinese regime still struggled to assert its authority and control in the South (because of the civil war) ◦ Basically Taiwan was a priority target among the Chinese leadership, initially the USA seemed to abandon Chiang until North Korea struck South. Then Truman had reversed his policy by sending 7th US fleet to patrol between Taiwan and the mainland China, which renders Chinese invasion on Taiwan would be impossible.
The Impact of China‟s involvement in thewar; Why did China intervene? However; ◦ Stalin pressed the Chinese to assist Kim, as a direct Soviet intervention was out of question. ◦ Mao Zedong also don‟t want hostile US forces to be in the border of Manchuria, as China‟s limited industry was concentrated there. ◦ In addition to that, China‟s industry was also heavily depended on the North Korean‟s hydroelectric damn situated just south of the border. The collapse of North Korea will cut off the industry from much needed electricity. ◦ Furthermore, Mao believes that a conflict would enhance nationalist sentiment in China behind his regime, helping him to sweep away enemies and impose his programme of reform. The decision to intervene was actually made since the US had crossed the 38th parallel.
The „Dragon‟ attacks! The Chinese army were very different compared to the US : ◦ They were essentially tough but light infantry ◦ Not limited to roads, as they had little mechanical transport. ◦ Largely relies on small arms; rifles, mortars, machine guns; ◦ Masters of the camouflage and surprise attack. ◦ Since they were light-equipped; they could move quickly through difficult terrain. ◦ Move at night, launching attacks during hour of darkness. ◦ They used traditional methods to convey orders; by using gongs, trumpets etc. often scares their western counterparts.
The „Dragon‟ attacks! In Mid-November, between 120,000 and 150,000 Chinese troops confronted Almond‟s (a US general) troops in the east, while more than 200,000 faced Walker‟s (another US general) troops in the west. Almond(of east), as esteemed as MacArthur did, had ordered his troop to march north up to the Chosin reservoir near the border. While marching, the marine‟s commander suspected a trap, as a crucial bridge had not been blown up by the retreating Chinese forces, but he reluctantly obeyed his orders and advanced further more. Then, on 25 November, Chinese offensive against Walker in the west was begun. The UN front collapsed, South Korean army fled, US forces faced being surrounded. Then they had decided to retreat – moral plummeted. In the east, the attack started 2 days later (27th). 100,000 Chinese veterans encircled the marine corp (US army unit), in attempt to block their retreat. However encirclement failed; the US army in the east successfully retreated, as new armor and equipments from Japan had been supplied to the unit through port of Hungnam.Thus, they had successfully minimized their causalities.
The „Dragon‟ attacks! Pyongyang was abandoned. On 23 December, Walker was killed in a road accident, and replaced by Matthew Ridgeway – which he had managed to slowed the US army retreat and restore their morale. Seoul was lost for the second time, the 80 km after that, the Chinese finally stopped their advance. They halted because: ◦ Out of supplies ◦ Frozen by winter ◦ Pounded by bombs coming from the US aircrafts. Thus, the great retreat came to an end in February 1951. Then in March, Ridgeway had launched an offensive, and managed to recapture Seoul.
The sacking of MacArthur In General, both Truman and MacArthur detesting each other. When American army seems to fail in North Korea, MacArthur had publically blaming the restraints put on him for the retreat – this of course had broke angered Truman and Acheson; but instead of dismissing MacArthur, they just issue a warning on him. When the US army finally managed to recapture Seoul, he publically states that the unification between two Koreas is still possible. – Totally in contrary with Truman‟s and Acheson‟s stance that the war should be settled by returning to its original position- the 38th parallel. MacArthur then further suggested that the US should extend bombing on Manchuria and poison the Yalu river with radioactive waste. By all means, his request had been denied. On 20 th March, Truman informed MacArthur that the USA will propose ceasefire along the 38th Parallel. MacArthur opposed it, and threatened to extend the war into the Chinese territory. Again, Truman only reprimanded him, but not to dismissed him.
The sacking of MacArthur Then, MacArthur had sent a letter to the leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives, suggesting to conquer the whole Korea, and Nationalist troops of Taiwan should be used. This had been viewed as a challenge to the civil government policy-making authority , which is unacceptable to both Truman and Acheson, and also their British allies who had clearly stressed the need not to extend war. Thus on 11 April, MacArthur was fired.
The sacking of MacArthur At first such dismissal were unpopular, and detest by the public and politicians alike. MacArthur then claimed that he was the victim in the situation, and American was surrendering to Communist aggression. Truman later dismissed MacArthur‟s speech. However, the public were still on MacArthur‟s back. But later, as the excitement began to subside, slowly politicians and military commanders were started to back the President. The tide finally turn in favor of Truman; helped by series of hearings in the Senate pertaining to the matter.
The end of the Korean War In March 1951, the USA had decided to seek an armistice on or around the 38th parallel. Initially the Chinese didn‟t agreed to the ceasefire plan as they tried to recapture Seoul through “spring offensive” plan, but later they had failed and defeated. The defeat of the Chinese offensive appears to Mao that a ceasefire might be desirable, or the war should be prolonged for two more years.
The end of the Korean War –Armistice negotiations. First negotiations held at Kaesong in July 1945, but failed. The Communist had used it as propaganda, Kim still opposed to the idea, and Stalin‟s believes the conflict will tie China more firmly to the USSR. Then the talks moved to Panmunjom, but they were stuck at issues on boundaries and returning prisoners. Truman refused to force the USSR prisoners to return if it is against their own will. The war had became a “static war; as they dug in in trenches, but they were bombing each other. North Korea was endlessly bombed to force them to sign the armistice. Later, as Eisenhower had became a President of the US (which the communist fear he will take a tougher stance on North Korea), and the Stalin‟s death in March 1953, a ceasefire was signed – but not a peace treaty.