The Korean War which is termed as the forgotten war was a military conflict that started in June 1950 between North Korean who were supported by peoples republic of China backed by Soviet Union and South Korean with support from the United Nations and the American forces.
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The war was an episode of cold war where by the United States of America and Russia were fighting ideologically behind the scenes by using South and North Korea as their battle zone. After the world war two, British and American forces set a pro-western government in the southern part of Korean Peninsula while the Soviet Union initiated a communist rule in the North. The net effect of these ideological differences was the Korean War.
Causes of Korean War
The causes of the Korean War can be examined in two facets
Politically, the Soviet Union wanted Korea to be loyal to Russia .This was because Korea was seen as a springboard that would be used to initiate an attack on Russia. Korean being loyal to Russia was a strategy to prevent future aggression.
The major cause of the war however, was difference in ideology between South and North Korea with Russia and America behind the scene. The two Korean zones established two separate governments with different ideologies. This were the major event that initiated the conflict In Korea.
The causes of Korean War are generally
American and Soviet military occupation in North and South Korea.
The American and Soviet forces occupation in Korea divided the country on ideological basis. These differences resulted to the formation of 38th parallel which was a border between South and North Korea. This boarder increasingly became politically contested by the two functions and attracted cross boarder raids. The situation became even worse when these cross border skirmishes escalated to open warfare when North Korean army attacked South Korea on June 1950.The two super power majorly the American and Soviet Union acted by providing support and war equipment’s to the two conflicting sides.
Role of the America and Soviet Union in armament and military support to South and NorthKorea.
The Russians backed the communist regime in North Korea with the help of Kim Il-Sung and established North Korean Peoples Army which was equipped by Russian made war equipments. In South Korea, American backed government benefited from training and support from the Americans army.
Military and strategic imbalance between North and South Korea
The America and Russia failure to withdraw their troops by the late 1948, led to tensions between the two sides. By 1949, the American had started to withdraw its troops but the Russian troops still remained in North Korea considering that Korea lay as its strategic base.
This was followed by invasion of South Korea by the North Korean army because of the military imbalance that existed in the region. This forced the American to return back and give reinforcement to South Korea which was by then over ran by North Korean Army in support of the Russian troops.
Course of the Conflict
Korea, a formally a Japanese colony before the end of the Second World War, changed hands to allied powers after the defeat of Japan in the year 1948. The Americans occupied the southern part of Korea while the Soviet occupied the Northern region. Korea by this time was divided along 38th parallel which demarked the boarder of the two governments.38th parallel was an area of 2.5-mile that was a demilitarized zone between north and South Korea.
In June 1950, the North Korean people army attacked South Korea by crossing 38thparallel. On June 28th the same year Rhee who was the then leader of South Korean evacuated Seoul and ordered the bombardment of bridge across Han River to prevent North Korean forces from advancing south wards.
The inversion of South Korea forced Americans to intervene and on June 25th 1950, United Nations in support of South Korea, jointly condemned North Korea’s action to invade the South. USSR challenged the decision and claimed that the Security Council resolution was based on the American intelligence and North Korea was not invited to the Security Council meeting which was a violation of the U.N. charter article 32.
North Korea continued its offensive utilizing both air and land invasion by use of about 231,000 military personnel. This offensive was successful in capturing significant southern territories such as Kaesong, Ongjin, chuncheon and Uijeonghu.
In this expedition, the North Korea people’s army used heavy military equipment such as 105T-34 and T-85 tanks, 150 Yak fighters and 200 artillery pieces. The South Korean forces were ill prepared for such offensive and within days they were overran by the advancing Northern army. Most of Southern forces either surrendered or joined the Northern Korean army.
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In response to this aggression, the then American president Henry Truman gave an order to general Mac Arthur who was stationed in Japan to transfer the troops in Japan to combat in Korea.
The battle of Osan was the first involvement of the American army in the Korean war. The war involved a task force comprised of 540 infantry men from 24th infantry division on July 5th 1950.
This task force was unsuccessful in its campaign to repel the North Korean army and instead suffered a casualty of 180 soldiers of whom were either dead, wounded or taken prisoner. The task force lacked effective military equipment to fight the North Koreans T-34 and T-85 tanks. The American 24th division suffered heavy loses and were pushed back to Taejeon.
Between August and September 1950, there was a significant escalation of conflict in Korea. This was the start of the battle of Pusan perimeter. At this battle, the American forces attempted to recapture then taken territories by the North Korean army. The United States Air force slowed North Korean advances by destroying 32 bridges.
The intense bombardment by the United States air force, made North Korean Units to fight during the nights and hide in ground tunnels during the day. The U.S. army destroyed transportation hubs and other key logistic positions which paralyzed North Korean advances.
Between October and December 1950, the Chinese entered the war on the side of the North Koreans. The United States seventh fleet was dispatched to protect Taiwan from people’s Republic of China under Mao Zedong. In 15th October 1950, Charlie Company and 70th Tank battalion Captured Namchonjam city and two days later Pyongyang which was the Capital of North Korea fell to the American 1st cavalry division.
The first major offensive by China took place on 25 October by attacking the advancing U.N. forces at Sino-Korean border. Fighting on 38th parallel happened between January and June 1951 when the U.N. command forces were ambushed by Chinese troops. The U.N. forces retreated to Suwon in the west.
On July 10th 1951, there was a stalemate between the two warring sides which led to armistice being negotiated. The negotiation went on for the next two years. The armistice deal was reached with formation of Korean demilitarized zone ending the war. Both sides withdrew for their combat position. The U.N. was given the mandate to see a peaceful and fair resolution of the conflict in the effort to end the war. The war resulted to about 1,187,682 deaths and unprecedented destruction of property.
Effect of Korean War to American Foreign Policy
The Korean War on the side of Americans perpetuated the Truman’s doctrine which was of the opinion that Russia was trying to influence the world with forceful communist ideology and therefore the United States of America would help any country that was under threat of communist.
The Korean conflict also brought into focus in future efforts to win communism from spreading allover the world. The United States realized that the best solution to stop the spreading of communism ideology was to be military in nature. The war also made America to recognize China as a powerful military might in Asia. Future diplomatic actions would need to take into account Chinas potential might.
After the war, military assistance was provided to Philippine government, French Indochina and Taiwan with the motive to contain the spread of communism in Asia. This military assistance would extend also in Europe to country under communist threat of occupation.
Feldman, Tenzerh. The Korean war. Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books, 2004.
Fitzgerald, Brian. The Korean war: American’s forgotten war. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2006.
Stueck, William. The Korean war: An international history. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1997.
- William, Stueck. The Korean war: An international history. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1997.
- Brian, Fitzgerald. The Korean war: American’s forgotten war. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2006.
- Tenzerh, Feldman. The Korean war. Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books, 2004.