Korean War

The Korean war

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  • Created by: mariamme
  • Created on: 22-05-12 08:52

  •  NSC 68- 14th April 1950- suggested tripling America’s defence budget build up US military presence combat advance USSR ‘propaganda tool’
  • Manipulate public opinion  agreeing to military funding, limited effect USSR as kept secret and Truman delayed  in seeking approval in congress
  •  may have stopped invasion by North Korea if known about by Kim Il sung and Stalin
  • outbreak war hastened congress approval of policy

Why did Stalin hesitate to aid the North in 1949?

  • Throughout 1949 Kim Il sung urged USSR to give military support. Stalin reluctant become involved civil war- focus Europe, might justify similar US support to Rhee (nuclear weapons)
  • Suggested increase support guerilla fighters, provoke uprising in South , reused make mutual security pact
  • Kim could not go ahead until Stalin supported offensive. Tried playing soviets off against Chinese
  • Eventually both Mao and Stalin support descision
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Why did Stalin decide to support Kim’s invasion plan?

  •  Not want to be seen to hold back flow revolution, not want Mao intervene and take lead
  • End August 1949- success soviet atomc bomb testing – remove US advantage
  • Creation NATO meant redirected policy of expansion to Asia
  • Not think US willing to fight war over Korea, confirmed Acheson’s speech Jan 1950
  • April 1950- agree support with military equipment, as long as descisive victory won and no escalation
  •  Not allow soviet troops intervene directly
  •  Kim assured both war would be over in 2 /3 weeks
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Phase 1: Pusan and Inchon

 June-September 1950

  • 135, 000 North Korean Army troops advance south. SK troops badly equipped and trained could not really stop
  • within 3 days Seoul (capital) fallen to NK
  • promised political reforms and unification , NK continue push South ,some SK army desert
  • US ground forces small, no anti-tank artillery forced retreat south with ROK troops
  • End July, all South Korea overrun by NK, only small area around Pusan remained
  • US forces flown in from Japan to Pusan , fleet positioned coast Taiwan
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US and UN

 US reaction

  •  Truman saw as communist challenge to free world, NK puppet
  •   USA put resolution before UNSC  same day as attack (25th June) calling for cease-fire behind lines 38th parallel, UN involved so ‘collective security’
  • Passed 9 votes to nil, Yugoslavia abstain, USSR not present
  • Same evening Truman ordered US air drops supplies to SK. 29th MacArthur ordered to intervene with naval and air forces, no ground forces. LIMITED WAR persued
  • Two days later UN pass resolution to create military force to defend SK, MacArthur placed in charge
  •  Popular amongst Americans at start
  •  Assumed invasion could not have happened without Soviet involvement
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MacArthur and UNC forces role

  •  UN viewed invasion unprovoked act aggression, member states asked to give military aid and other supplies to SK- troops from 15 countries
  •  UNC forces organised, counter offensive mid September
  •  MacArthur organized massive reinforcement Pusan perimeter, end august, troop superiority 2:1
  • Planned Counter offensive by sea at Inchon, diversion, forces break out pusan and surround N.K pincer movement. Planned amphibious attack on Inchon 80,000 men
  •  Seemed to be civil war international help and soviet presence
  • Beachead at Inchon secured, UNC forces advanced inland, combined US infantry flown there. 19th September, break Pusan confused NK, drove back
  • 28th September Seoul retaken 50,000 casulties, NK army cut off in pincer movement two UNC forces
  • Following day Rhee’s government ceremonially reinstalled Seoul
  • 'Hawks' defence department driving policy $15 billion annual expenditure, defend US prestige- thought take opportunity ‘displace communist state from the Soviet orbit’
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Phase 2: rollback of communism to the Yalu River

  • British foreign office misgiving Chinese intervention, but Cabinet agreed to UN offensive advance across 38th parallel, unify Korea. Not at Rhee’s request, US see themselves as ‘global policemen’. Truman persuaded by congress and ‘hawks’ like MacArthur, Dulles, and Rusk
  • False intelligence suggested NK weak despite Soviet aid, elections approaching, McCarthyists pressing hard line action
  • USA had to use general assembly not Security council-USSR returned to August 1950
  • NK agressor, therefore UN had to defend. For UN 38th Parallel not exist as NK not recognized as state
  • MacArthur made sure SK form front line
  • Change policy ‘rollback’ of communism, authorised by UN General assembly
  • Set up comission to oversee elections i 'soon to be liberated Korea'
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NSC 81 limitations on MacArthur’s actions

  •  Truman accepted , ordered MacArthur cross parallel, only SK forces used near China and USSR borders- later ignored (24th October)
  • USSR intervene, MacArthur assume defensive position and consult Washington- later also ignored
  •  Chinese intervene (not expected), could continue UNC offensive as long as good chance success. CAUTIOUS. Good as china watching, American forces cross 38th Parallel, send troops to NK, not if only SK forces (Zhou Enlai- Panikar)
  • MacArthur overconfident, felt China not intervene
  • Two days after crossing border, ordered Kim surrender, REFUSED radio 10th October
  • 15 th met Truman on Wake Island and assured him victory achieved very soon
  • 19th October US forces took Pyongyang. 24th October MacArthur orders UNC forces North, far as Yalu River. Pursuing ‘total war’ victory
  • Washington approved move, lead to direct war with China
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Why did China intervene?

  •  Mao’s seemed focused sending US fleet to Taiwan
  •  27th August 1950, US planes accidently attacked Manchurian airfields. Mao feared American forces would invade Chinese mainland
  • Mao sent 90,000 experienced troops defend Manchuria as precaution- 300,000 along Northern bank of Yalu River during August, orders prepare possible involvement in conflict
  •  Stalin ask Mao to send volunteers, after Kim’s pleas, give time NK regroup
  •  Refused- feared war against US hinder PRC’s economic reconstruction, and escalate into full-scale confrontation between 2 superpowers
  • Good time show Sino-Soviet solidarity as USA not ready for global war
  • Persuaded by Stalin, Japan disarmed, not want two front war with US, commit 9 divisions  troops


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Phase 3: Chinese intervention and escalation, Octo

  • 14th October 180,000 Chinese troops secretly cross Yalu River, fighting reduced numbers NK and SK troops
  •  Chinese used to bitter winter, used guerilla tactics
  • US forces reached target Yalu River, not suspect any Chinese troops detected in area, 25th November 1950, entire US Eighth Army encircled
  • 27th November sudden attack, PRC forces anhilate US forces at Kunu-re, UNC Army forced south in disorganised rout
  • 2 days later US marines surrounded and scattered by 300,000 Chinese communist forces Chosin reservoir
  • Many US troops taken prisoner, abandoned vehicles and equipment. Shockwaves through US army and public, undermine morale, UNC general HQ total panic
  • Truman consider use atomic bomb
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Reaction US allies

  • NATO allies fear being drawn into escalated war between superpowers that might affect Europe. Change US policy Asia affect US support Asia
  •  France fear Chinese intervention Indochina
  •  Atlee met Truman won conscession USA would inform Britain and Canada before using atomic bomb . not written agreement.
  • By 5th December, US eigth army 25 miles south Pyongyang, end month 38th parallel. Lost all gains in NK
  • Chinese forces cross parallel take Seoul 4th Jan 1951
  •   Ridgeway evacuate seoul and withdrew from Inchon
  • ‘scorched earth’ policy, blowing up ports as retreated 

US reaction

  • GM put forward list targets China and Korea, requiring use 26 atomic bombs
  •  McArthy call for impeachment Truman and resignation secrateries State Acheson and Marshall
  • Truman declared state emergency 15th December 1950
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Phase 4: War of attrition January 1951-July 1953

  • US air superiority. Stalin sent MiG fighters, pose threat supremacy
  • Originally meant to train NK pilots found themselves directly involved in war, kept secret
  • new American aircrafts introduced to restore supremacy, carrying bombs and napalm
  • Seoul target NK allies, fell to them 4th January. Soon UN troops forced abondon Inchon and withdrew even further South
  • USA began ‘operation Thunderbolt’ counter offensive 25th January
  • Withdrawal northern forces along border led General Ridgeway to adopt war of attrition, ‘operation killer’, communists to negotiating table Feb 1951
  • March ‘operation ripper’, April ‘operation rugged’
  • 15th March forces USA,UN and ROK recaptured Seoul, NK back to 38th parallel
  • UNC troops captured, brainwashing
  • Mid March Washington see entered STALEMATE , no more major military surges across 38th parallel, restore pre-war situation
  • Prep limited peace initiative with communists, no intention allowing PRC seat on security council


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Mao’s preconditions for ceasfire

  •  Withdrawal UN troops from Korea
  • Agreement only Koreans should resolve conflict
  • UN security council seat PRC
  •  Expulsion Taiwan
  • Conference set up prepare *** peace treaty
  • UN, under influence US table resolution, china ‘agressor’
  • Opposition 27 states inc. Britain, France and Canada
  • America make changes to resolution, passed 1st February


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MacArthur downfall

  •  October 1950- refuse salute Truman
  • Dec 1950-Interview questioned Truman’s political decisions blamed defeats on restraints imposed by European pressure on President
  • 15th March 1951-press statement stated intention to unify 2 Korea's and request permission bomb Manchurian bases, poison Yalu River
  • 20th March 1951-Truman informed him intention order ceasefire on 38th parallel
  • 24th March 1951-public statement threatening China with war on own territory. REPRIMANDED.
  • 5th April 1951- wrote letter to republican leader arguing against Truman’s policy, read out in house of representatives. Criticised European priority, argued total victory in Korea, using Taiwanese forces
  • 11th April 1951-SACKED
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  • war attrition resumed 30th May 1952, request peace talks end of June (USA)
  • month later Pyongyang attacked US air force
  • 5th August Rhee won rigged election
  • 4th November Eisenhower wins landslide election, goes to Korea in person, General Maxwell Taylor in command
  • WW2 veteran, not shrink away from threatening use of nuclear weapons
  • 27th July 1953, peace treaty signed , Stalin had died 5th March 1953
  • 38th parallel permanent boundary
  • SK refused to sign
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