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Background of The Korean
War
1910 - 1945
• Korea used to have some
of Asia's most prominent
communist groups and
activists
• These organizations
worked underground to
reestablish Korea's
independence during
Japan's occupation of the
Korean Peninsula (19101945)
Occupation
• In 1945 Korea was
occupied by Soviet forces
in the north and American
forces in the south.
• The line that was chosen
to separate the two was
the same one that Japan
and Russia used in the
early part of the 20th
century.
• It was called the 38th
parallel.
Kim II Sung
• 33-year-old, soviet army
captain, Kim II Sung became
known to be a heroic guerrilla
commander.
• In early 1946, Soviet
occupying forces chose him
to head the provisional
government for North Korea.
• 3 weeks after the Southern
Republic of Korea was made,
_____ was named premier of
the Democratic People’s
Republic of Korea on
September 9th 1948.
Progression & Economy
Kim didn't want a Soviet satellite state and instead embraced
Korean nationalism. The focus of which was the Korean
People’s Army. Under Kim's rule:
•over 2 million acres of land were redistributed in under a
month
•women were guaranteed equality under the law
•political action cells were formed to educate the population
It was clear that under his rule, North Korea had become
economically well-endowed in comparison to South Korea. In
June of 1949 both the Soviets and Americans had left the
peninsula, this is when Kim's plan to unite Korea became
evident.
On the Brink of War
• South Korea obviously appeared
to be faltering, but President
Syngman Rhee (South Korea)
unleashed a brutal campaign
against suspected communists
and leftists.
• At first Kim wanted to use force,
however he needed support and
so he turned to Stalin for help.
Stalin supported his invasion plan,
and advised him to get support
from China’s new communist
leader, Mao Zedong. He did and
was now on the brink of war.
Causes of the Korean War
Leading Causes of the Korean War
•
Reputation
– American Army had recently upped the anti as far as the arms race
went and Truman wanted to display the power and wealth of America
internationally.
– The USSR wanted better results and a chance to prove themselves
after the Berlin Blockade. This was particularly important to Stalin.
– They felt that the Korean war was their way of proving their reputation.
Leading Causes of the Korean War
•
Support
– The USA wanted to support Syngman Rhee because he was a
democrat surrounded by communism
– USA: supported South Korea.
– The USSR wanted to support the communist nation, because of the
same political ideals.
– USSR: supported North Korea.
– They could not get involved in a war against
communism without directly fighting the USSR.
Leading Causes of the Korean War
•
Cold War
– Stalin encouraged the spread of communism as long as it did not result in
a war with America. He soon realized that nuclear war might be a possibility
and wanted to avoid that and beat the USA using more indirect means.
– The Domino Effect - Truman believed that if Korea fell to communism, Japan (a
major trading partner) would follow.
– The Truman Doctrine stated that the USA would lend aid to any country not
wishing to be suppressed by the political ideals (communism) of any other
country.
– April 1950 the American National Security Council issued a report recommending
direct involvement (a proxy war) against communism.
– Stalin saw that the Korean War Was a chance for a war by proxy. Kim II Sung
visited Stalin to persuade him that he could conquer South Korea.
This map is from
an American
magazine from
1950. This shows
how much the US
feared
communism in
the far east.
United States, United
Nations, and the Soviet
Union’s Response to the
Korean War
United Nations
• The United Nations now had to
formulate a plan. Sixteen
member states would provide
troops under a United Nations
Joint Command. It would fight
with the South Korean army.
• This United Nations force was
dominated by America even to
the extent of being commanded
by an American general –
Douglas MacArthur
• On September 15th 1950,
United Nations troops landed at
Inchon. The landing was a huge
success and the United Nations
effectively cut the North Korean
army in half and pushed them
out of South Korea.
• Note: MacArthur was later fired
by Truman for getting the
Chinese involved in the war.
Soviet Union
• Soviets sold Chinese military
equipment, including artillery
and MIG fighter planes.
• The USSR also provided
advisers and military hardware
to the North Koreans.
• Soviet pilots flew MIGs against
US planes.
• However, Stalin was unwilling
to become involved with the
United States in a war over
Korea.
United States
• The US provided the majority
of the UN military forces which
drove the North Koreans out of
South Korea and still stand
guard along the border.
The US moved their troops into
South Korea quickly.
• The US and the Soviets
agreed to divide Korea
temporarily to avoid long term
decisions regarding Korea's
future.
• Although the United States
took the lead in the Korean
action, it did so under the order
of the United Nations.
China Enters the Korean War
Why did China enter the war?
• UN forces pushed
north to China
• Crossed 38th parallel
– Yalu River and border
with China
• Mao Zedong already
made it clear that
China would not
tolerate foreign forces
on border
What happens next?
• October 14 to November 1, 1950
– Chinese send 180,000 of the People’s
Volunteer Army to cross Yalu River
– They pushed the American forces back
• November 2
– UN realizes that the attack was done by
Communist China
“Home-by-Christmas” offensive
• November 24 –
MacArthur launches
offensive attack
• Chinese army
retaliates with full
force
• American and South
Korean units retreat
• Ends January 1951
The Korean War Armistice
The Korean War Armistice
• Designed to insure an end to
warfare and all acts of armed
force in Korea until a definitive
peaceful could be achieved
• It was signed on July 27,1953
• Covered issues such as
- exchange of prisoners of war
- location of a demarcation line
• Intended as a temporary
measure, but the 38th parallel
remains standing even today.
• Enforced by a Military Armistice Commission
• Armies began the awkward process of
disengagement over the 4km wide DMZ.
• It provided…
suspension of open hostilities
fixed demarcation line with a four kilometre (2.4
mile) buffer zone - the so-called demilitarization
zone
A mechanism for the transfer of prisoners of war
Map of Korea
• 1954 - an international conference in Geneva was organized by
the United States
- discussed the political future of Korea
- no agreement was produced
• Armistice- only safeguard for peace on the Korean peninsula
Winners? Losers?
• After three years, July 27, 1953- ceasefire
stopped the fighting
• Although there was no declared winner,
South Korea never succumbed to a
communist rule.
• There was an
armistice signed by
North Korea, China,
and the UN but not by
South Korea.
• The armistice was
NOT a peace treaty,
just a temporary
cessation of
hostilities.
• Korea is still split up
into North Korea
(communist) and
South Korea (noncommunist)
• The border between
the two countries has
remained one of the
most heavily-armed
stretches of land on
Earth
Big Questions
• Did it improve American status overseas?
• Did it stop the Domino Effect from
happening again?
• How did this war effect North and South
Korean relations for the future?
• Will the 38th parallel ever be diminished?