Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Korean War (1950-1953)

During WWII Korea had been occupied by the Empire of Japan. After the allied forces won the war against Japan, and its other Axis allies, Korea was occupied by the Soviet Union and the United States, with the 38th parallel serving as the boarder between the two zones. Above the 38th parallel, the Soviet Union established a communist government that mimicked its own, while in the south, the U.S. oversaw an election that established South Korea’s leaders. After this was accomplished, the U.S. withdrew the majority of its forces from the country, in the summer of 1949. About a year later, on June 25, 1950, the North attacked the South in an attempt to unite the country under its rule. In response to this attack the U.N. Security Council in met in special session and, on June 27,th voted to aid South Korea in defending itself. President Harry Truman authorized U.S. forces to aid the South Korean army that same day. However, with much of the South Korean army destroyed, the U.S. forces were unable to stem the tide of North Korean forces. By August, U.S. and allied forces were able to hold a tentative defensive perimeter around the port of Pusan in southern Korea. In an attempt to repel the North Korean invaders, General Douglas MacArthur devised a plan to land, unexpectedly, at the port of Inchon north of the U.S. defensive lines. This operation, which began on September 15th 1950, was a startling success. With U.S. forces behind them, North Korean troops quickly fled back across the 38th parallel. Though the original boundaries had been reestablished, MacArthur wanted to continue pushing into North Korea. President Truman granted him permission to do so, and on the first of October, 1950, allied forces crossed the 38th parallel. By the end of November, they had neared Korea’s border with The People’s Republic of China. China had threatened military action if U.N. forces invaded North Korea. As a result of MacArthur’s push into North Korea thousands of Chinese soldiers attacked allied forces, and by July of 1951, the latter had been pushed back to positions just north of the 38th parallel. The war lasted for two more bloody years, though the lines never significantly changed. Finally, on July 27th 1953, a treaty was signed in Panmunjom. The Korean War demonstrated the beginning of the U.S.’s policy of fighting wars in foreign countries to prevent the spread of communism. These “hot” wars represented America’s fear of the growth of communism around the world, and its willingness to fight to prevent it. Also. the Korean War contributed to McCarthyism and general anti communist hysteria in the United States.

Korean War Map

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