Korean War


-1910 - 1945 - Korea was controlled by Japan which surrendered to US and Soviet troops in 1945.

-In 1945 Korea was split by 38th parallel with the North being Soviet and the South being US.

-1947 - UN called for free, nationwide elections to elect a democratic government of the whole of Korea however in 1948 elections in the south created the Republic of Korea and by Soviet election, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was set up.

-In 1950 North Korea invaded South Korea as leader of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung, wanted to unite Korea under Communism and was confident that an invasion in 1950 would be successful as:

  • He had the support of Soviet Stalin and Chinese leader, Mao Zedong.
  • North Korea’s was supplied with weapons from the USSR making the stronger than South Korea’s military.
  • US was unlikely to act as USSR had atom bomb (since 1949) and China was now communist.
  • US politicians had made statements making it seem as if Korea wasn’t a priority.

United Nations

-Had been heavily involved in the establishment of South Korea however not at all in the establishment of North Korea.

-When South Korea was invaded the UN Security Council met the same day and decided that NK was in breach of peace and had to withdraw their troops back to the 38th parallel. This wasn’t vetoed by Russia as they had decided not to attend in protest to China not being allowed to join the UN.

-However when NK didn’t retreat from SK the Security Council met again and decided it was going to use military force to repel NK. A further resolution was passed that stated that the military forces were to be organised by the US.

-This was allowed as the US was the biggest contributor to the UN budget and was powerful in influencing decisions. However troops from many other countries were sent to assist. The US wanted to organise the troops because:

  • They saw the North Korean invasion as part of Russian and Communist expansionism.
  • They thought that a successful invasion of SK would lead to a Chinese attack on Taiwan and by them both becoming Communist then Japan, who were a keen force against communism and trading partner of the US, would become threatened therefore affecting US economy.
  • The fall of Taiwan, Japan and SK would mean a major shift in power to Communism.
  • The US wanted to stop Communist expansion under Containment policy.
  • The US had been closely associated with the establishment of the Republic of Korea and therefore their reputation would be damaged.


-The UN action was mostly US as if the UN hadn’t agreed then the US would have acted on its own.

-They didn’t want to repeat appeasement so very quickly used decisive military action.

Events of the Korean War

-June - Sept 1950 = Success for North Korea

  • North Korean forces successfully overran most of South Korea capturing the capital Seoul.
  • South Korean and UN troops were


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