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By: Shalesia Lide The Basis Of the Korean War The Korean War (25 June 1950 - armistice signed July 27th, 1953 was a military conflict between the Republic of Korea, supported by the United Nations, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China (PRC), with military material aid from the Soviet Union. The war was a result of the physical division of Korea by an agreement of the victorious Allies at the conclusion of the Pacific War at the end of World War II. HOW THE WAR STARTED The Korean peninsula was ruled by Japan from 1910 until the end of World War II. Following the surrender of Japan in 1945, American administrators divided the peninsula along the 38th Parallel, with United States troops occupying the southern part and Soviet troops occupying the northern part. The failure to hold free elections throughout the Korean Peninsula in 1948 deepened the division between the two sides, and the North established a Communist government. The 38th Parallel increasingly became a political border between the two Koreas. Although reunification negotiations continued in the months preceding the war, tension intensified. Cross-border skirmishes and raids at the 38th Parallel persisted. The situation escalated into open warfare when North Korean forces invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950. It was the first significant armed conflict of the Cold War. Continued… North Korean invasion came as an alarming surprise to American officials. As far as they were concerned, this was not simply a border dispute between two unstable dictatorships on the other side of the globe. Instead, many feared it was the first step in a communist campaign to take over the world. For this reason, nonintervention was not considered an option by many top decision makers. (In fact, in April 1950, a National Security Council report known as NSC-68 had recommended that the United States use military force to “contain” communist expansionism anywhere it seemed to be occurring, “regardless of the intrinsic strategic or economic value of the lands in question.”) 38th Parallel http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=hh0hyALDW7Y http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=hh0hyALDW7Y Video PROXY WAR The Korean War was the first major proxy war in the Cold War , the prototype of the following sphere-of-influence wars such as the Vietnam War (1959–75). The Korean War established proxy war as one way that the nuclear superpowers indirectly conducted their rivalry in third-party countries. The NSC-68 Containment Policy extended the cold war from occupied Europe to the rest of the world. What Truman Had To Say “If we let Korea down,” President Harry Truman (1884-1972) said, “the Soviets will keep right on going and swallow up one place after another.” The fight on the Korean peninsula was a symbol of the global struggle between east and west, good and evil. As the North Korean army pushed into Seoul, the South Korean capital, the United States readied its troops for a war against communism itself. The Struggle… At first, the war was a defensive one–a war to get the communists out of South Korea–and it went badly for the Allies. The North Korean army was welldisciplined, well-trained and well-equipped; Rhee’s forces, by contrast, were frightened, confused, and seemed inclined to flee the battlefield at any provocation. Also, it was one of the hottest and driest summers on record, and desperately thirsty American soldiers were often forced to drink water from rice paddies that had been fertilized with human waste. As a result, dangerous intestinal diseases and other illnesses were a constant threat. Strategies Planned… By the end of the summer, President Truman and General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), the commander in charge of the Asian theater, had decided on a new set of war aims. Now, for the Allies, the Korean War was an offensive one: It was a war to “liberate” the North from the communists. Initially, this new strategy was a success. An amphibious assault at Inchon pushed the North Koreans out of Seoul and back to their side of the 38th parallel. But as American troops crossed the boundary and headed north toward the Yalu River, the border between North Korea and Communist China, the Chinese started to worry about protecting themselves from what they called “armed aggression against Chinese territory.” Chinese leader Mao Zedong (1893-1976) sent troops to North Korea and warned the United States to keep away from the Yalu boundary unless it wanted full-scale war Unlike World War II and Vietnam, the Korean War did not get much media attention in the United States. The most famous representation of the war in popular culture is the television series “M*A*S*H,” which was set in a field hospital in South Korea. The series ran from 1972 until 1983, and its final episode was the most-watched in television history Korean Demilitarized Zone Fighting ended at the 38th parallel and the Korean Demilitarized Zone, a strip of land 248x4 km (155x2.5 mi), now divides the two countries. Even so, skirmishes, incursions, and incidents between the combatants have continued since the Armistice was signed. The Korean War Reaches A Stalemate In July 1951, President Truman and his new military commanders started peace talks at Panmunjom. Still, the fighting continued along the 38th parallel as negotiations stalled. Both sides were willing to accept a ceasefire that maintained the 38th parallel boundary, but they could not agree on whether prisoners of war should be forcibly “repatriated.” (The Chinese and the North Koreans said yes; the United States said no.) Finally, after more than two years of negotiations, the adversaries signed an armistice on July 27, 1953. The agreement allowed the POWs to stay where they liked; drew a new boundary near the 38th parallel that gave South Korea an extra 1,500 square miles of territory; and created a 2-mile-wide “demilitarized zone” that still exists today. Inchon Landing On September 15, 1950, U.S. and South Korean forces launched an amphibious landing at the port of Inch' on, near the South Korean capital, Seoul. A daring operation planned and executed under extremely difficult conditions by U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the landing suddenly reversed the tide of the war, forcing the invading North Korean army to retreat in disorder up the Korean peninsula. No Substitute For Victory? This was something that President Truman and his advisers decidedly did not want: They were sure that such a war would lead to Soviet aggression in Europe, the deployment of atomic weapons and millions of senseless deaths. To General MacArthur, however, anything short of this wider war represented “appeasement,” an unacceptable knuckling under to the communists. As President Truman looked for a way to prevent war with the Chinese, MacArthur did all he could to provoke it. Finally, in March 1951, he sent a letter to Joseph Martin, a House Republican leader who shared MacArthur’s support for declaring all-out war on China–and who could be counted upon to leak the letter to the press. “There is,” MacArthur wrote, “no substitute for victory” against international communism. For Truman, this letter was the last straw. On April 11, the president fired the general for insubordination. Continued… MacArthur had started to think about a landing somewhere behind enemy lines in early July 1950, and on August 12 he ordered his staff to prepare for an amphibious landing at Inch' on, the port outlet of Seoul, located on Korea's west coast. Planning and preparation for a major amphibious operation usually took five or six months; MacArthur was allowing only one, with a target D Day of September 15, the earliest date that tides would be suitable. In Washington, D.C., the Joint Chiefs of Staff were at first opposed to such a landing. They feared that because of the grave situation at the Pusan Perimeter, MacArthur would not be able to hold out enough units to fight elsewhere and might be defeated in both places The Ending Result Before the armistice, talks had gone on for nearly 2 years. Eisenhower had promised that if he was elected in the election of 1952, he would go to Korea and end the war. There was no simple way to end the conflict. Talks had collapsed in October 1952. In 1953, the US threatened to bomb China, but eventually a ceasefire was declared between UN forces and Korean/Chinese forces. The "De-Militarized Zone" which designates the border between North and South Korea has remained one of the most heavily-armed stretches of land on Earth. The stability of the region is threatened by the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea. Casualties… The Korean War was relatively short but exceptionally bloody. Nearly 5 million people died. More than half of these– about 10 percent of Korea’s prewar population–were civilians. (This rate of civilian casualties was higher than World War II’s and Vietnam’s.) Almost 40,000 Americans died in action in Korea, and more than 100,000 were wounded.