Korean War Essay, Research Paper
On June 25 1950 Communist North Korean troops broke the peace agreement and invaded the Republic of Korea. The Korean war was the first war which the UN played a military role1. The Korean war proved to be a huge challenge for the UN, which was created only five years earlier at the end of World War 2. The UN demanded the North Koreans to withdraw from the South and called it a violation of international peace. The communist persisted into South Korea and the Korean War was on. A total of 41 countries were sent to aid the South Koreans in the war but about 90 percent of troops, equipment, supplies were from the United States2. During the period of the war about one million South Korean civilian were killed and millions of people were left homeless because of the devastation left by the war.
After World War 2, Korea was split into two parts. The North, which was occupied by the Soviet Union and the South, which was occupied by the Americans. The country was spilt by an imaginary line which was the 38th parallel. The American government suggested that there be free elections so that they could unify the North and the South to become one country, however the Soviet didn’t agree with this and so the idea was turned down. On May 10, 1948 the people of South Korea elected a national assembly3 which set up the government of the Republic of Korea. On September 9, North Korean Communists established the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea4. The North and South and numerous clashes between 1948-1950, and in 1949 the United States withdrew its last troops saying that Korea was outside of it’s Asia defence line.
At 4 a.m. June 25, 1950 an estimated 90 000 North Koreans charged across the parallel with 7 infantry division in all, as well as a small amphibious force on the east coast, a motorcycle regiment, border constabulary, and 150 Russian T-34 tanks5. Only an estimated 15 000 faced the communist attack that morning. The South Koreans were ill prepared had only a total force of about 95 000 soldiers, few planes or heavy guns and no tanks. The North had about 135 000 soldiers and also had planes, artillery and tanks. The South Korean army was hardly any resistance to the North.
President Truman appealed to the United Nations to take “police action” against the “unwarranted” attack. Hence, under the “name of the United Nations”, the United States was able to send troops and forces. The United States sent about 480 000 troops and about 39 000 came from countries like Australia, Belgium, Canada, Columbia, Ethiopia, France, Great Britain, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and Turkey. At their greatest strength there was a total of almost 1 110 000 troops6. The North Korean Army also grew with the help of the Chinese government which sent about 780 000 troops by the end of the war. There were many attempts from the UN security council demanding that the Communist North remove their troops but all times they continued to advance.
Only two days after the initial invasion it had reached the gates of Seoul, the capital city. The North had advanced at a great speed and there was almost no stopping them from taking all of Korean in a matter of weeks if enforcement’s were not sent soon. There had been an ocean of people trying to escape Seoul on one of the four bridges that crossed the Han river. Thousands of people were trying to leave but many of them didn’t make it. The South Korean Army tried to destroy the bridges so help so down the North from coming any more south but they blew them to prematurely before many of the South Korean troops could leave Seoul, this caused the acceleration disintegration of the South Korean army. On July 8, with the approval of the UN security council, President Truman named General Douglas MacArthur commander in chief of the United Nations command.
Between June 25 and September 7, 1950 the North Korean Army had basically captured most of the south Korean land. They had already killed thousands of troops and civilians and had control of the capital city. By the end of June over half of the South Korean army had been destroyed7 The only area left was a small area which was named the “Pusan Perimeter” This was on the south-east corner of land and contained Korea’s main port of Pusan. The Pusan Perimeter was South Korea’s only last bit of hope.
On September 8, 1950 a major turning point in the Korean War occurred. The United States Marine and Infantry divisions arrived and the UN forced were being greatly built up in this area. The UN troops stopped the deepest Communist advance at the Pusan Perimeter. They began pushing back the North Korean army more inland and the UN forces engaged. The North Koreans lost about 58 000 soldiers and much equipment while advancing to the area8. The North tried to break through the Pusan Perimeter with scattered attacks along it but General Walker, who was field commander of the UN ground forces counter attacked by using reserves to meet each enemy thrust. The UN forces were greatly helped by the US bombers overhead that destroyed the enemies supply lines. During this time more and more American equipment was arriving including tanks and artillery at Pusan. The UN forces had a huge lift in this and helped to turn the war around for their side. The North saw that the UN forces were gaining the military advantage and they tried scattered attacks along the Perimeter but failed every time.
On September 15, 1050 there was a surprise move from the UN forces that helped to change the course of the war. With the personal direction of General MacArthur marines and soldiers sailed from Japan to the Northwest coast of Korea and made an amphibious landing at Inchon. This was a hard fought battle with many lives lost on both sides. On September 26, 11 days after the initial assault the UN forces captured Seoul. General MacArthur made a broadcast that demanded the full surrender, but the North rejected the offer.
During September and October the UN forces were on an extreme feeling that victory may soon be theirs. On October 19 the allies had captured the capital of North Korea, Pyongyang. The North Korean army continued to move north towards China while the South pressed on north. The allied forces continued north towards the border between North Korea and China. The government of China told the South that they must not advance anymore towards it’s border or the Chinese government would have to take action. General MacArthur wanted a quick end to the war before the winter started so he urged his troops to continue onwards.
On November 26 and 27, 1950 the allied troops suddenly retreated south. General MacArthur and his allies underestimated the size and strength of the Chinese army. They also felt that the Chinese army would only be used as a defence line rather than an offensive and did not feel that they would cross into North Korea. However they were all wrong, China had sent about 300 000 troops across the border and forced the retreat of the allies. The Chinese continued to press on and on December 4 the allies withdrew from Pyongyang. On new years eve the Chinese began to attack Seoul and fought for five days before capturing the capital on January 4, 1951. On January 16 the allies moved north again and began to fight all the Chinese and North Korean forces and captured Seoul once again on March 14 19519. For the next two year the war would almost be a non-event. There were no more major advances that either side made but there were many battles that led to key positions.
On April 11, 1951 a shock event occurred. President Truman removed General MacArthur as leader of the forces and replaced him with Ridgeway. Truman felt that Mac Arthur’s policies were much to harsh as MacArthur once said “there are no substitutes for total victory, and All-out measures.” Truman felt that these were not acceptable and felt that it could lead to a third world war.
On July 27, 1953 after three years of war an armistice agreement was signed ending the fighting. A new zone called the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) divided the two sides. This was four km wide. In the end South Korea gained 3880 square kilometres and both sides agreed not to increase their military strength. The United States spent about $68 billion dollars on the war10 and about 1 million South Korean civilians were killed along with more than 1 billion estimated property damage. North Korea did not release any figures. A total of 580 000 military deaths on the Allied side and a total of 1 600 000 deaths on the North Korean and Chinese side11.
With the Communist North still evident today and a democratic government in the South there have been many tries for reunification but none have been successful.
Today North Korea is under the dictatorship of Kim Jong Il. The North is a very poor and undeveloped country and is keeping an isolationistic policy with millions of North Koreans dying each year from starvation, while the South is having a booming economy with great ties to the world economies. To this day there has been great speculation that the North may one day invade once again but perhaps if they do, in the 21st century the South Koreans along with the free world will capture and end the communist rule and one day reunify Korea.