The Korean War was the first war in which the United Nations played a major role. It was also part of the cold war between the US and Soviet Union. One of the deadliest war in history, it took many lives in such a short time of three years.
In WW II, Japan had gained control in Korea. At the end, when Japan was defeated by the Allies, the US and Soviet forces moved in Korea. Korea was divided to serve as the purpose to move the Japanese troops out. The line, which was at the 38th parallel divided the country in half. The Soviet forces were responsible for the north and the US for the south part of Korea. Later, this partition was made permanent. In 1947, the UN declared for elections to be held in all of Korea to decide one government for the country. However, North Korea refused to take part in the elections and didn’t allow it. So on May 10, 1948, South Korea voted for a national assembly that set up the Republic of Korea. On September 9, North Korea set up the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. North and South Korea claimed the whole country and their troops fought several times between 1948-1950. The US removed its troops from South Korea in 1949. It also said that Korea was outside of US defense line. North Korea saw it’s chance for military action to take over South Korea.
In June 1950, North Korea surprised South Korea with an attack. At the time, the North Korean Army had 135,000 soldiers, most of them veterans of WW II. It also had airplanes, tanks, and artillery that outnumbered South Korea by three to one. On the other hand, South Korea had 65,000 combat troops who had small arms and light artillery. On the day the war began, the UN Security Council issued a resolution demanding the Communist retreat back to the 38th parallel. The Soviet Union was a permanent member of the Security Council. However, it didn’t go to the meeting because it had been boycotting the Council meetings. This was because the Council was denying the Communist Chinese government. If the Soviet Union had been there, it could have voted against the resolution or deliver a veto. North Korea chose to disregard the resolution. On June 27, North Korean troops reached South Korea’s capital, Seoul. Seoul fell in four days. In the US, President Truman and the UN took action to stop North Korea from advancing. President Truman, going by his containment policy, sent US air and naval forces to help South Korea. The UN also asked its members to help South Korea. On June 30, Truman ordered the first ground troops to go to South Korea. General Douglas Macarthur was the commander of the ground forces. Congress supported Truman but didn’t officially declare war on North Korea. Other troops from UN nations began soon after the US. Part of the US army on July 1, came from Japan to southernmost Korea at Pusan. Soon, these troops very moving close to south of Seoul. The first fight that took place between the US and North Korea was at Osan, south of Seoul. North Korea had already surpassed Seoul. On July 7, Truman named General MacArthur the commander of UN Commands. He had control over all of the forces in South Korea. By August 2, the North Korean army had advanced to the Pusan Perimeter. The Pusan Perimeter was on the southeast corner of South Korea. This was one of the many turning points in the war because the North Koreans lost nearly 58,000 people. The UN ground forces were led by General Walker who attacked the North Koreans with reserves. US planes helped out by destroying the enemy from above. On August 6, the North Koreans succeeded in crossing the river that stopped them from reaching Pusan. However, the UN forces counterattacked and pushed them back on August 25. North Korea tried to attack the Pusan Perimeter again on September 3, but the UN forces stopped them on September 8.
Another turning point came on September 15, 1950 at the Inchon Landing. This was personally handled by General MacArthur. He had to take special precautions because of the tides at Inchon that could have trapped the boats with soldiers in it. These troops stopped the advancing North Koreans to reach Pusan Perimeter. MacArthur led the troops to recapture Seoul from North Koreans on September 26. General Walker’s troops defeated the enemies they were fighting at the Pusan Perimeter. Walker and MacArthur joined at Seoul and demanded the surrender of North Korea. In late September, the UN forces decided to invade North Korea. By October 19, South Korean troops had captured the capital of North Korea, Pyongyang. This forced the North Koreans to retreat north. The two troops led by MacArthur and Walker split. MacArthur went northeastern towards the North Korea-China border. The other went in to northeastern parts of North Korea. Despite Chinese warnings, MacArthur ordered the troops to go on until they fought the Chinese on October 25. On November 6, the Chinese decided to withdraw. Convinced that his troops outnumbered the Chinese, MacArthur ordered to attack on November 24. In reality, China had a force of 300,000, which it sent on November 26, and 27 to defeat the UN forces. On December 4, the UN forces began to withdraw from Pyongyang. Meanwhile, the North Koreans advanced forward and took Seoul by January 4, 1951. The UN forces withdrawal ended on January 10.
After Walker was killed in an accident, Lieutenant Ridgway took over. With his leadership, the Allied troops caused serious damage to the North Koreans and started to move north once again on January 16,1951. Ridgway came up with a new way to defeat the enemy which was going slower to kill a lot of the enemies. Once again, the troops captured Seoul on March 14. The war took a slight turn. Both sides were no fighting on the sides of the 38th parallel. Sometimes this duration of time is called “Battle for the Hills”. On April 11, 1951, Truman suspended MacArthur from command. This was because MacArthur wanted to use bombs on Manchuria, which would directly involve China. Truman’s administrations disagreed because they were afraid of another World War. He was replaced with Ridgway.
Even though peace talks began in July, the war went on for two more long years. On June 23, 1951, a Soviet delegate to the UN encouraged cease-fire. The talks started on July 10. An agreement that the 38th parallel would be the division of Korea was nearly made on November 27. This couldn’t happen because a truce had to be reached in 30 days. Several things stopped this from happening. The UN wanted the prisoners of both sides to choose where to go, since a lot of the prisoners didn’t want to go back under communist rule. The Communists couldn’t agree because then they would be admitting that communism had failed. This conflict ceased the truce talks in April 1952. On October 8, the UN was forced to delay the talks because of voluntary repatriation. The death of Stalin in 1953 encouraged the Soviets to go ahead with the peace talks. Finally on March 28, the Communists agreed to exchange sick and injured prisoners. Between April and May, 684 sick and injured prisoners were received for the return of 6,670 communist prisoners. Later, on April 26, the communists agreed with voluntary repatriation. An armistice was signed on July 27, 1953. In 1954, Soviet and UN nations met in Switzerland to decide a permanent peace plan. This never happened because questions still remained about the unification of Korea.
There were many outcomes to this war; however, they weren’t very good. The US spent $67 billion on the war. Korea was heavily damaged and their property damages were more than one billion dollars. About one million Korean civilians were killed. This doesn’t even include the soldiers who gave up their lives. There were about 580,000 UN and South Korean troops killed and 1,600,000 Communists were killed. After all these deaths, Korea ended up being the way it was when the war started. One outcome remains to be decided and dealt with. It’s if North and South Korea will ever reach peace because even today American troops are stationed there, just in case.
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