2Events Leading up to the Korean War For much of the Early part of the Twentieth Century Korea had been invaded and controlled by the Empire of Japan and had been used as a source of natural and human resources.Over two million Koreans were used as labourers, soldiers and sex slaves during the Second World War.Before the Second World War a civil war raged in China between Mao-Zedong’s Communist forces and Chiang Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang, nationalist forces. During the war it was agreed that the two sides would suspend fighting to combat the Japanese invaders and occupiers. When the war ended and Japan was defeated, fighting resumed and the Communists were successful, driving the KMT onto the island of Formosa.Communist Koreans who had fought on Mao’s side against the Japanese returned home to a communist North Korea with their combat experience and their weapons.
3Events Leading up to the Korean War At the Potsdam conference before the end of WWII, Russia and America decided to divide Korea along the 38th parallel, without consulting the Koreans. A curious action in light of American policy of supporting self-determination. It was also curious that the Americans would want to increase the presence of communist forces in the region.The main reason for the deal was to get the Russians to declare war on the Japanese to prevent further loss of life of Western forces. Stalin, the clever old fellow that he was, waited and declared war at the end and seized the Sakhalin Islands as a prize.You now have a communist China next to a communist North Korea and lots of American troops occupying Japan in the post-war period. North Korean troops stockpiled weapons and ammunition and the South Koreans had very little.
4Tensions EscalateOn August 15, 1948, the Republic of Korea (R.O.K.) was established. Syngman Rhee became the republic's first president. On September 9, 1948, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.) was established in the northGuerrilla fighting in the south and clashes between southern and northern forces along the 38th parallel intensified duringBy mid-1950 North Korean forces numbered between 150,000 and 200,000 troops, with 210 fighter planes and 280 tanks. Soviet equipment had also been pouring into North Korea in early 1950.These forces were to fight the ill-equipped South Korean army of less than 100,000 men--an army lacking in tanks, heavy artillery, and combat airplanes, plus a coast guard of 4,000 men and a police force of 45,000 men.
5North Korean Forces cross the 38th Parallel on the 25th of June 1950
7A First Test of the United Nations Ability to Resolve Conflict The Americans proposed a U.N. Security Council response in the form of deploying troops to the region from various U.N. member nations.It passed unanimously due to the absence of the Soviet Union who was boycotting the proceedings over the fact that the communist People’s Republic of China had not yet been given China’s seat on the security council.The US, with the United Nations, came to the aid of South Korea, fearing that inaction in Korea would be interpreted as appeasement of communist aggression elsewhere in the world.The North Koreans quickly crushed South Korean defenses at the 38th parallel. South Korea's army was simply overwhelmed. The capital of Seoul fell in three day.The southern forces were pushed into a pocket around Pusan
8Only an amphibious invasion at Inchon could turn things around. This along with the addition of many thousands of troops and materiel turned the tide and pushed the Northern forces back across the 38th ParallelThe course of the war changed abruptly, and within weeks much of North Korea was taken by United States and South Korean forces. In October, the North Korean capital of Pyongyang was captured and ROK troops reached the Yalu River.
9U.N. Commander MacArthur pushes on the Chinese border Despite warnings from the Communist Chinese through an Indian diplomat that "American intrusion into North Korea would encounter Chinese resistance," MacArthur's forces continued to push north.On October 25 the Chinese army, which had been massing north of the Yalu River after secretly slipping into North Korea, struck with considerable force.
10China becomes involved in a decisive way. Mao had read MacArthur’s mind and was concerned that the push on the Yalu River was an attempt to threaten the communist regime in China.Truman had warned the aggressive General against such and action. His worst fears were realized and the Chinese were involved.
11The US Eighth Army counter-attacked, recapturing Seoul by mid-March 1951, and then advancing to just below the 38th parallel.
12The danger of the war going nuclear Truman had ordered nuclear weapons to be deployed to the Korean Theatre in the event that they would be needed early in the war and now seemed the time to use them.MacArthur wanted to have control of the weapons and this, amongst other rebellious acts led Truman to fire him.Fortunately, U.N. troops were able to stabilize the front lines in the general area of the 38th Parallel.
13Ike replaces TrumanIn November 1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected President on the campaign pledge to "go to Korea."The truce talks remained stalemated and hostilities continued until an armistice was finally concluded in July 1953.
15Where do things stand now. The two countries are still technically in a state of war and recent hostilities including the shelling of an island and sinking of a patrol vessel have demonstrated that this Cold War era proxy war is not over yet.Recent statements on the part of the new North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, have indicated that North Korea is prepared to give up its nuclear ambitions.
16Lessons learned and implications for the future. What did the Americans seem to learn from the war, for better or worse?The Soviets produced weapons that could match those produced by the Western Allies.Nuclear weapons could be used much the same as any other weaponThat containment and the Marshall plan can work at stopping the domino effect.The U.S. public is prepared to commit its troops in the battle against communism.Containment can work if you have the right mix and type of weapons including, nuclear.What did Russia and China learn from the conflict?It is better to have someone else do the fighting and you supply the weapons.The U.S. was prepared to fight to enforce the Marshall plan which had implications for Taiwan.The conflict strengthened the bonds of loyalty between the communist Chinese and North Korean regimes.