The Korean War

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The Korean War- INTRO

  • End of WW2, Korea was freed from Japanese control.
  • North Korea occupied by soviet soldiers; South Korea by american soldiers
  • It was agreed that there would be free elections and Korea would be united in the future
  • Americans agreed with this because two-thirds of the population lived in the south, and so theyt felt communist north would be outvoted
  • By 1948 this proved impossible and so two independent governments were set up, divided by the 38th Parallel.
  • Elections were held in the south, which resulted in South Korea being ruled by anti-communist government, led by Syngman Rhee, the capital at Seoul.
  • Soviets set up a communist government in the north, under Kim Il Sung, capital at Pyongyang.
  • Although soviet and american troops left in 1949, north still supported by USSR and south by the USA.
  • Victory of communists in China under Mao Zedong in 1949 meant that North Korea had a border with another communist state.
  • Koreans not satisified with the division of their country and both leaders claimed to be the ruler of the whole country.
  • What caused the war is uncertain.
  • Stalin definitely supplied the north with tanks and encouraged them, and communists in China probably urged the north to attack
  • Communists claimed to be protecting themselves as troops from the south had crossed the 38th parallel.
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The North Korean advance

  • 1950- North Koreans attacked South Korea and advanced quickly, crossing the 38th parallel and capturing the south capital of Seoul.
  • Soon occupied the whole of south korea apart from the south-east corner known as the Pusan Pocket.
  • A problem for Truman and the Americans. Thought they were losing the cold war as USSR had successfully tested the atom bomb in 1949 and communism was successful in China.
  • USA  believed in the Domino Effect and felt they had to resist the spread of communism.
  • Americans referred the invasion to the security council of the UN, but began moving troops in Japan to Korea before a decision had been made by the UN.
  • Security council appealed to north to withdraw its troops from the south
  • When this was ignored, it was declared that North Korea was the aggressor and called on all member states to send help to the south.
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UN intervention

  • A UN army made up of 16 nations was sent to Korea.
  • It was led by American General Douglas MacArthur.
  • Most troops were american, and Truman saw it as part of the truman doctrine to contain communism.
  • North Koreans surprised by the american marines, who landed at Inchon and cut off their supplies.
  • The north koreans were forced to retreat.
  • At this stage, Truman went beyond containment. With UN backing, american troops invaded the north, captured Pyongyang and occupied two-thirds of the country.
  • Soon reached the Yalu river, the border with communist china.
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Final advances of the Korean War

  • China now concerned about the american advance and decided to help the noth koreans
  • About 250,000 chinese troops entered Korea.
  • Too many of them for the americans, and by January 1951, they had driven the UN troops out of North Korea and once again captured Seoul.
  • MacArthur wanted to launch an all out attack on China using the atom bomb. Truman dismissed MacArthur and decided to go back to his policy of containment.
  • By June 1951, the UN troops had driven the communists out of south korea and defended the frontier.
  • Peace talks began in 1951 and there was very little fighting for the next two years.
  • Agreed in 1951 that the frontier would remain along the 38th Parallel.
  • War proved to be costly for Korea. Country devastated by the fighting, about 4 million soldiers and civilians killed and 5 million became homeless.
  • American losses were around 50,000
  • Other UN troops lost about 17,000
  • Chinese suffered about 900,000 casualties.
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