History AS - Korean War

A brief overview of the events proceeding and surrounding the Korean War. 

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Chronological Order of Events

August 1945 - Japanese forces compelled to evacuate colony Korea after WW1 defeat.

August - September 1948 - Establishment of Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in North and Republic in the south (ROK)

June 1950 - North Korean forces invade Republic of Korea

July 1950 - UN command established under MacArthur 

November 1950 - Chinese communists forces enter war, driving UN forces out of DPRK

July 1951 - Armistice talks begin

1951-52 - Armistice talks prolonged by question of voluntary repatriation of prisoners of war.

November 1952 - Dwight D. Eissenhower elected (Republican) Jan 1953 office

July 1953 - Status Quo armistice signed between UNC, & Chines people's volunteer, and DPRK

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Korean War

Korean annexed by Japan (Japan now capatalist, USA buffer around China & Soviets)

USSR - North (Communist)                 USA - South (Capatalist)

38th parralell was division 

South had Syngman Rhee - leader (very anti-communist) Unpopular

Kim Il Sung (North Leader) very popular 

1949 USA & USSR withdrew troops as agreed, South-exposed

North & South - unwilling to be seperate, many fights - 1949: 400 soldiers killed

1950 - Rhee asked for help off US, denied. South attacked by North - 25h June

US intervention within 2 days of attack

Truman - under pressure from home ordered troops (Naval & air) to the south

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Korean War, Cont.

US dominated UN and used 16 other countries to send troops in South Korea

US & UN forces led by General Douglas MacArthur (V. anti communist)

South Capital Seoul had been captured, North moving onto Pusan.

War established to use as the development of the country.

30 September US troops crossed 38th parallel

MacArthur pushed troops onwards to the Yalo river. Korean/Chinese border
Turning point, escalation.

Chinese began to worry about themselves, sent in troops North Korea

Korea gave 145,000 volunteers to Chinese communist civil war effort
favour to be returned

MacArthur decided to make wasteland between front line & Chinese border.
MacArthur had already been told not to cross the 38th parallel & used napalm.

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Korean War, Cont.

27 November 1950 Chinese forces came into North Korea

200,000 joined the 150,000 Koreans

MacArthur suggests atomic bombs to Truman, he did not refuse - "We must meet whatever comes - and it will." British & European fear.

End of 1950 North Korea retaken all land north of 38th parallel.

Winter: -30C       Chinese deaths over 45,000

USSR promised to supply the north.

Early 1951 - 400,000 Chinese troops

Stalemate at front line after UN bombing of bridges.

Southern communities gave UN/USA trouble with guerrilla attacks

30% UN forces devoted to finding guerrilla activity.  

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Korean War, Cont.

1951 - Operation Ratkiller - successful, UN troops weary.

MacArthur suggested atomic bomb to end stalemate - his & Truman's relations grew thin.

April 1951 Truman fires MacArthur. Replaces by General Ridgeway

Bombardment of Wonsan lasted 861 days, reduced city to ruins

July 1951 both sides willing to have peace talks in Kaesong

Later that year agreement made over demarcation line

Talks were to little effect until early 1953

1952 - Eisenhower president           March 1953 - Stalin dead

June 1953 - UN casualties 23,000      The West opinion was now against the war

90% of US soldiers in hospital, self inflicted.

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Korean War, Cont.

Eisenhower visited Korea and now knew the situation 

27 July 1953 China, North Korea, USA agreed to sign ceasefire

South Korea refused but had little choice but to accept.

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Result of the Korean War

4 million lives claimed, most were North Koreans

North still communist, South still capitalist


North and south became pawns for superpowers of the cold war.
Country devastated, 5 million left homeless.
Rhee has a successful war until 1960, demonstrators overthrew him.
After Rhee South ruled by military (spells of democracy)
North Korea - isolated communist state.


Lives lost and thin on resources.
However, showed military potential, emerged at 3rd superpower alongside USA & USSR
Leading Asian Communists
Inactivity by Soviets in war led to a slump of influence over the region 

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Result of the Korean War


Demonstrated ability to exert authority against acts of aggression.
USSR propaganda showed how they were a tool of USA policy.
No respect from developing 3rd world countries.


Impact on direction of US foreign policy
Threefold in military spending.
Ready for more communist aggression.
Development of strategies to help governments facing communist threat
After Korea - Vietnam was perfect for new techniques.

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