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General History of the Korean War Essay


Before the Korea was divided into the Northern and Southern parts, it was controlled by the Japanese rule until the end of the World War II. Korea’s political history, therefore, can also be divided into two parts – before the split and after it. Due to the fact that Korea was significantly influenced by Japanese political and cultural life during the colonization and was affected by the Chinese culture, the country was linguistically and ethnically unique and separate because of people’s important contributions to the development of the world civilization. To understand these contributions, it is purposeful to define the event before the conflict and understand the current state of affairs on the Korean peninsula.

General History of Korea before the North and South Split: Cultural and Theological Issues

Cultural and theological issues have had a potent impact on the development of Korea as a whole. The richness of culture and civilization takes deep roots in history of ancient Korea, during the reign of Koryo Dynasty at the end of 10th century (Rees 19). Under the reign of this dynasty, the country underwent significant cultural developments. In particular, many historical works were presented, including the first printing of the Tripitaka, the Buddhist devotional work (Rees 19). A significant intellectual development during the reign of Koryo dynasty was the evolution of a sophisticated interpretation of Confucianism which derived from the school of Chu His, the Chinese Sage (Rees 19).

The Confucianism appeared to be an intellectual foundation for an opposition to Buddhism because Korean society expressed its resentment concerning the privileges that Buddhist monks enjoyed at this period. In addition, ceramic art was also included into the brightest cultural heritage in this period. The Koryo Dynasty was ended with the Mongol invasion and the reign of the Dynasty Yi. Further periods had not left a significant cultural and religious heritage and, therefore, they were just known as period of Korean independence. At the end of 19th century, Korean peninsula was colonized by Japan because the latter believed that this country could serve as a means of control of neighboring countries, including China and former USSR (Rees 21). Korea had been under the rule of Japan for 35 years until the end of the Second World War, when the geographic region split into the Northern and Southern Korea.

Conflict between the North and the South

The conflict between the North Korea and the South Korea was marked by the Korean War in 1950-1953 years. However, the underpinnings for the emergent conflict came from the outside political and economic processes connected with the Cold War. When Japan was defeated in 1945, the United Nations introduced plans for involving the Soviet Union in a trusteeship administration in the northern part of the Korean peninsula and the United States taking control of the South Korea (Hobbs and Dolan 406). Within the context of the Cold War politics, the country was split into the two governments in 1948. Factually, the war looked like a civilian conflict between the northern and southern parts of Korea. In practice, the war was the result of political frictions between the largest economies of the world fighting for the economic and political dominance (Hobbs and Dolan 406). Indeed, the United States of America and the former Soviet Union used Korea as a springboard for attack and for suppressing Korea’s former colonist Japan.

China played the last, but not the least role in split of Korea. The country was aware of the fact that the peninsular served as a bridge to Japanese invaders and, therefore, it introduced an aggressive policy against the already divided parts of Korea. According to Olsen, “Koreans’ experiences with Russia, the United States, and Japan transformed the way Koreans perceived each of their countries, and China, as they entered the post-liberation phase of their nation evolution” (57). In such a manner, the pressure imposed by Japan was enhanced by other interested participants of the Cold War. Though the Korean War had disastrous consequences for the country, it was still the next phase of the development of the independence state of the South Korea and the North Korea. In particular, the South Korea became the supporter of the democratic and provisions policies of the United States whereas North Korea created the communist ideologies under the auspices of the former USSR.

The Cause and Outcomes of the Second World War II: North Korea Perspective

The North Korea was the initiator of the Korean War that burst out in 1950. Kim II Sung attacked the South Korea across the 38th parallel. The main objective of the North Korean regime was to conquer the entire peninsula and spread the communism all over it. All these objectives fall under the Communist expansion policy of the Cold War rivalry because the greatest economies of the world, which pursued to ignite the military action between the two parts of the peninsula. The North Korea was supported by Russia whose political tendencies also promulgated the Communist ideology. As a result, the Northern part of the peninsula unintentionally became the participant of the Cold War within the context of the free world. Despite the strong dependence of North Korean leaders on the support of the USSR, the country’s relations were not restricted to this particular regime. Specifically, the North Korean government concluded secret treaties with the Communist China, which allowed the latter “to establish air force bases in the territory of North Korea, and Communist Chinese troops” (Cotton and Neary 26). In such a manner, the country employed the security tactics against the predatory policies of both China and the Soviet Union.

The Relation between North Korea and Russia (Former USSR) and Its Influence on the Split Conflict

As it has been mentioned earlier, North Korea strived to find support and security outside and stay independent from other countries. Nevertheless, this policy led to the development of complex relations with Russia. The former USSR sought to strengthen its position on the territory of the North Korea so as to be able to resist the policy of the United States that took control of the southern part of the peninsula. However, the North Korean leaders were reluctant to rely fully on the support of the Soviet Union and refer to the Chinese Republic (Dent 248). The so-called double game allowed Kim to preserve the maximum level of freedom of action and independence. Judging from the above, both countries involved into agreement were striving to gain the maximum benefit from the situation, but for various purposes.

The Korean War

In 1950, the North Korea invaded the South under the guidance of the Soviet Union. The US government perceived the attack as an act of Communists’ aggression and immediately established forces under the control of the United Nations. The leader of the North Korea Kim visited the USSR government and signed a cultural and economic agreement and arms pact in March 1949 under which the Soviet Union was to strengthen the armed forces on the territory of the northern peninsular. The USSR has gradually realized the merits of invading the southern peninsula and, therefore, it decided to meet the concerns of the North Korean leader. In their turn, the US authorities also proposed the support to the Southern Koran to build an opposition to the Soviet Union. As a result, the Korean War could also be regarded as a rigid confrontation between the East and the West.

UN Police Action and US Aid Actions on North Korea

At firsts stage of the involvement of the United States in the Korean War, the Truman administration hesitated whether this action was good for the US economy or not. Nevertheless, the military support was provided to the North Korea, despite the high skepticism of policymakers (Malkasian 13). NSC 69 was the reaction of the American government on the expansive politics of the Soviet authorities (Malkasian 13). To ensure the successful war outcomes, the Truman administration addressed the UN Security Council, which satisfied Truman’s intent to deplore the North Korean invasion. The United Nations also recognized the necessity of military measures against the Communist powers. Hence, “although Truman and Acheson supported the ideal of collective security, they used the UN mainly as a vehicle for achieving the American interests” (Malkasian 14). In this respect, US Aid Actions disguised the actual purposes of their participation in the Korean War.

The Current Status On The Conflict Between The North And The South

Currently the North Korea and its Southern neighbor are still in the conflicting relations because of constant attacks and incidents on the part of the Northern Korean leaders. Despite the numerous attempts to establish peaceful relations, the two Koreas have never managed to come to an agreement. For several reasons, the countries are not able to analyze the actual underpinnings of the conflict and provide possible solutions and compromise. Nowadays, the military actions are still continuing.


In conclusion, the split conflict between the North Korea and the South Korea had complicated reasons and underpinnings that lead to total division of the territory which had been unified for centuries. Though endowed with rich cultural and theological ideologies, the United States and the former USSR managed to create the friction between the territories they controlled after the defeat of Japan. In this respect, the Soviet Union strived to spread the Communist ideologies and introduce aggressive tactics in the context of the Cold War against the United States. The Russian government concluded several agreements with North Korea to prove their support and assistance. In their turn, the American government also introduced its support to the South Korea to reach personal goals. However, the North Korea was much more consistent and decided to rely less on the Russian support to cooperate with other Communist-oriented countries, such as China. The North Korea leaders, therefore, sought to maintain their independence and establish productive relations with other countries. Currently, the North Korean government leads aggressive policy against the southern territories.

Works Cited

Cotton, James, and Ian Neary. . UK: Manchester University Press, 1989. Web.

Dent, Christopher. . US: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2008. Web.

Hobbs, Joseph and Andrew Dolan. . US: Cengage Learning, 2008. Web.

Malkasian, Carter. . US: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2008. Web.

Olsen, Edward A. . US: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005, Web.

Rees, David. US: Hippocrene Books, 2001. Web.

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