Korean Conflict Essay, Research Paper
Many events make up the entirety of a conflict between opposing forces. More specifically, there can be many different parts to a war. There is not necessarily only one struggle in a war. In the Korean Conflict, the war can be separated into three distinct and equally important stages, each with their own purpose: the North s offensive, the South s offensive, and the stalemate. Examining these three stages will clearly define the objectives of the war.
The offensive attack that the North Koreans made on the South is the first of the three stages. On June 25, 1950 the North Koreans crossed the 38th Parallel, which divides North and South Korea, to commence their assault. Their goal was to take over the South and unite all of Korea under the North s beliefs and rule. It was four in the morning when the 90,000 North Korean troops, aided by 150 Soviet tanks and 200 aircrafts, caught the officers of the United States Military by surprise. These men had been stationed in South Korea. The results were horrifying for the South. The North Korean s had been spying on the South, and knew where every post and station of the South s army was located. They began to strike each one individually and force their way south. Seoul, the capital of South Korea, was the main target of the North s army. If they could overtake this city, they would force the South s army farther back, as well as obtain control over the South s main railways and governmental headquarters. This would also force the South to set up a temporary government somewhere else. The South knew they would have to protect Seoul, so they sent what men they did have left to defend the capital. Despite their precautions the North eventually captured Seoul. Word soon got to the United States and the United Nations. President Truman met with his officials and decided to assist the South and join the war, as long as China and the Soviet Union did not get involved. They also recommended that the United Nations back the South as well. Soon American and UN troops arrived in South Korea. With them they brought heavy artillery, supplies, and hope. Douglas MacArthur was appointed Supreme Commander of the United Nations army in Korea. By mid July the U.S. 24th and 25th divisions had completed their transfer to Korea. The next defendable line was the Kum River. If the allied forces of the South Koreans, the American troops, and the UN soldiers could defend this position, they would restrain the North s troops from crossing the river and conquering Taejon. Taejon was the sixth largest city in South Korea at the time, and very important to the South. If the North obtained this city, they would gain full control of all transportation throughout South Korea and would soon spread everywhere. Once again the North destroyed the South s attempts to hold them back. With the help of Taejon they dispersed throughout the South. All the forces of the South were forced to retreat to Pusan, a small area in the southeast corner of the Korean Peninsula. There they managed to hold their ground, though it seemed as if they were utterly defeated. Repeatedly the Northern troops attacked the perimeter of Pusan in an attempt to penetrate the Southern defenses. They never managed to infiltrate what remained of the South s territory. The North s army suffered severe losses, for 60,000 soldiers had died. General MacArthur devised a plan to crush the North s forces. It was a plan that would surely work, but was very dangerous, and would take much skill. They were going to attack the North from behind, by entering the port at Inch on. The waves were so tremendous that they were up to twenty-eight feet high regularly, and would make the landing much more difficult. This was detrimental to the South, but it was also in their favor, for the North would not expect them to attempt such a feat. MacArthur and his troops were successful in landing and took the North by surprise. As his troops oppressed from the north, the troops at Pusan attacked from the south. The North Korean army was literally crushed. This ended the North s offensive, in September 1950. The South regained their land up to the 38th parallel, including vital cities such as Taejon and Seoul. They were now mighty and self-confident. Yet the massive bloodshed was not over, for this was only the first stage of a war that would last for over three years.
The second stage consists of the South s offensive attack on the North. The president of South Korea, Syngman Rhee, now believed that their allied forces could attack the North and unite the whole Korean Peninsula under South Korean beliefs. This was the goal of the second phase. President Truman was reluctant to aid Rhee in the attack of the North for fear that the Chinese would intervene and start a worldwide war. The UN and the United States began studying Chinese troops to determine whether or not the Chinese would aid the North in battle. The Chinese declared that they would not back the North Koreans, but only if the UN and United States did not aid the South. Despite these warnings and the commands of the president not to cross the 38th parallel, General MacArthur gave his own orders to go ahead and attack. On October 9, 1950, MacArthur and his men crossed the parallel and began the South offensive. As the South s men moved North, Chinese Forces secretly moved across the Manchurian border and traveled South to oppose the front. 180,00 Chinese soldiers met the South s army, ready for battle, with some 120,000 more waiting. The first incident when it was discovered that the Chinese were intervening was on October 25, when a strange prisoner was captured. He was later found to speak a Chinese dialect. In spite of this notion, General MacArthur lied to Washington, telling them that it was still unlikely for the Chinese to aid the North. Personally, MacArthur considered Chinese intervention a serious proximate threat. Again disobeying orders to keep non-Korean soldiers away from the Yalu border, MacArthur told his men that they were now aloud to go near it. As the South army traveled north, a fierce winter began. The South s troops were separated into two units, one along the east, led by General Edward Almond, and one in the west, headed by General Walker. The two groups were divided by the central mountain chain of Korea. At that time, General Lin Piao was in the mountains planning his counter-offensive. He decided to utilize a method known as Hachishiki, by cutting off the armies into small desolate groups, and then destroying them. On November 25, 1950 the Chinese attacked.
The destruction was immense, and over the course of a week many lives were lost, and the South s armies were pushed back more than eighty miles. When Washington found out about this act, he ordered the troops to retreat back to the South. The journey back south was no easy task. They had to fight for very mile they obtained. The South paid dearly in casualties, but eventually made it to the port at Hungnam. By Christmas Eve in 1950, the last ships left the port of Hungnam with the remaining troops and supplies. Although the United Nations and the United States felt that the South Koreans should merely hold their ground and cease in trying to overtake the North, General MacArthur wished to bomb Manchuria to destroy Chinese supply lines. President Truman and the United Nations allies felt this would launch general war. Thus the second stage of the war ended, with the South and North back where they had begun, fighting over the 38th parallel.
The third and final phase of the Korean War was the stage of stalemate; a period of unsuccessful battles along the 38th parallel in attempts to gain more land. Neither side managed to make any advances throughout the remainder of the war, though many lives were lost in constant battles for observation posts of the opposing sides barracks. Peace talks were then commenced in Panmunjom, a small city in North Korea s territory, though below the 38th parallel. Throughout the third stage, President Rhee s ambitions got the best of him, and his authority was questioned by many. He still wished to make a one-man rule over all of Korea. Just as the talks for cease-fire were beginning to come to a peaceful end, the Chinese backed out. They had discovered that the presidential elections were coming up and wished to see if a new president would give them a better deal. President Eisenhower was elected, and promised an end to the war. He then personally traveled to Korea. Despite the North Korean s hopes, Eisenhower showed no signs of lighter agreements. The next matter of discussion at the peace talks was the release of captured soldiers. Of the 132,000 Northern Koreans captured, a third wished to remain in South Korea. The representatives for the North felt that they should be forced to return regardless of their will. Finally an agreement was made and the captives of both sides who wished to return, were sent back home. President Rhee was enraged. He felt the Americans had sold him out. He still wished for totalitarian rule. He was finally convinced to face the facts that Korea would remain as it was, but not without some assurance from the U.S. South Korea would receive long term economic aid, beginning with a $200 million down payment and an immediate shipment of 10 million pounds of food. Now that Rhee was satisfied, along with all the other opposing forces of this conflict, the war was over. Though this third phase was no quick action, the stalemate lasted longer than the first two stages combined. There was nearly two years of fruitless fighting before an agreement was finally made. Yet at long last, the war was over, and peace was finally restored.
In brief, the examination of the three stages of the Korean Conflict: the North s offensive, the South s offensive, and the stalemate, the individual objectives of the war can be clearly defined. As in the Korean War, many times there is more than one stage in a struggle or conflict. It is the same in everything; many different struggles make up a life-changing event.