Conflict & tension in Asia - Korean War

Basic information

- North Korea was supported by the Soviets, while the South was supported by the USA.

- President of North Korea during war - Kim Il Sung

- President of South Korea - Syngman Rhee

- Divided at 38th parallel 

- North is Communist, South is anti-Communist (Capitalist - reason why they were supported by America).

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Why the North invaded the South in June 1950

- North was Communist-controlled, while the South was anti-Communist - this meant that there was bitter hostility between the two leaders.

- In 1950 this hostility spilled over into open warfare, North Korean troops, helped with equipment from the USSR and later by China, overwhelmed the South's forces.

- By september 1950, all but a small corner of south-east Korea was under Communist control.

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The Inchon Landings

- September 1950 UN forces stormed ashore at Inchon, with an aim to remove Communism from Korea completely and to remove the North Koreans from the South. At same time, other UN forces & South Korean troops advanced from Pusan.

- North Koreans were driven back beyond their original border (38th Parallel) within weeks.

- By end of September, MacArthur had retook Seoul.

- But the Americans didn't stop, despite warnings from China's leader, Mao Zedong, that pressing on would mean China joining the war, the UN approved a plan to advance into North Korea.

- By October, US forces on behalf of the UN had reached the Yalu River (China's border).

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Chinese intervention, October 1950

- MacArthur underestimated the power of the Chinese - late October 1950, 200 000 Chinese troops ("People's Volunteers") joined the North Koreans.

- They had soldiers who were strongly commited to Commusim and had been taught by their leader to hate Americans.

- They had modern tanks and planes supplied by Soviet Union.

- UN pushed back into South Korea by sheer size of the Chinese force and driven out of Seoul.

- UN troops pushed them back to 38th Parallel.

- Stalemate reached with no real sign of an end to the deadlock, casualties were steadily rising.

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The sacking of General MacArthur

- MacArthur was the leader of the UN forces.

- MacArthur wanted to carry on the war, invading China and even using nuclear weapons, but Truman (President) felt that saving South Korea was good enough so MacArthur and Truman fell out.

- His allies in the UN force convinced him that the risk of attacking China and starting a war that might bring in the USSR were too great, so an attack on China was ruled out - MacArthur ignored this instruction and threatened an attack on China.

- In April Truman removed MacArthur from his position as he rejected his aggressive policy towards Communism - containment was the American policy.

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Peace talks and the armistice

- Stalemate reached by early 1951 so peace talks began between North and South Korea in June 1951.

- No progress made due to a major dispute of the exchange of prisoners.

- Talks began again in 1952 but fighting continued.

- There was an armistice because Stalin's death in March 1953 made the Chinese and North Koreans less confident.

- An armistice was signed in July 1953.

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Impact of the Korean War

- In 1954, SEATO was founded ( the South East Asia Treaty Org.

- It was designed to contain Communism in the far east. This further heightened mistrust between the USA and the USSR.

- USSR achieved a closer relationship with fellow Communist state - China, but heightened tensions with the USA, and forced the USSR into an expensive arms race with USA.

- UN - gained respect by taking quick and decisive action and fulfilled one of its aims: to use combined force to stop aggression.

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