The Korean War
For hundreds of years Korea was dominated by the Chinese empire. After Japan was defeated by the allies in WW II., Korea became occupied by the Russians in the North and the Americans in the South. Both the U.S. and the Soviets realized that Korea was a strategic country. It was important to occupy because it lay between China, Japan, and the Soviet Union. North and South Korea were divided by the 38th parallel, it split the country into two regions. Russia and America became politically involved in Korea, each set up strong governments. The United States wanted Korea to be held under democratic rule, while the Soviets wanted communist rule. They took these conflicting views to the United Nations (UN), which had just been set up to prevent another world war and help with international elections. The UN decided that both sides of Korea should have their own elections. The elections were held on January 12, 1948. North Korea favoured communism, the people elected the Russians and Kim Il Sung, a former guerrilla leader. South Korea favoured democracy and formed the Republic of Korea under U.S. educated, Dr. Sygman Rhee. The Soviets left a communist dictatorship with a well-trained, well armed, North Korean-Soviet army. In fear of the North Koreans newly developed strength, the U.S. left South Korea with some small arms and military advisors.
The Korean War dates from June 1950 to July 1953. The war started on June 25 1950, when a Northern Korean(-Soviet) army invaded South Korea. The attack happened without the instructions and without the knowledge of Communist Russia or the Republic of China. The struggle started as a civil war, because Kim Il Sung choose the date for the attack. The date for the attack was badly taken, because the Soviet Union was boycotting the security Council of the UN at that time (due to the fact, that a communist representative from China was not allowed to enter the council). The Soviet Union would have been able to veto any military moves against North Korea until the war was over. Unfortunately Kim Il Sung took the initiative and invaded South Korea, where a growing opposition welcomed the Northern Korean leader as a liberator and as the one, who re-united the two Koreas. After Acheson (Secretary of State) had heard of the attack, he decided that the United States should put the matter before the United Nations. He then called President Truman and got his approval. The Security Council of the United Nations decided to give arms and equipment to the Republic of Korea and it authorized General Macarthur to stabilize the combat situation with his forces. The attack was seen as a violation of international peace by the Security Council. It was necessary to repel the armed attack and regain international peace and security in the area. This was the first time that the United Nations used military intervention to maintain peace. The UN had to be interpreted in a completely different way, because it was thought to be a peacekeeping organ with peaceful means. However this changed dramatically, when the Security Council decided to use military force even indirectly against one of its members.
Korea has become a battlefield between Russia and the United States. Both super-powers supported their part of Korea with planes (Mig15 and F-86 Sabre), troops, equipment and battle-ships. However both sides were very careful with the arm-supplies, which were sent to Korea, because they feared that one side could use an atomic bomb to finish the struggle.
During the first period of the war the Southern Korean forces were fought back to the southern coast into a very small region around the port city of Pusan, where the aggressors were finally stopped. General Macarthur sent troops behind enemy lines with amphibious vehicles so that the siege could be broken in a very efficient way. The American troops were able to push the enemies back behind the 38th parallel. When they had reached the Yalu river Chinese forces joined the Northern Korean army. The reinforced army was successful in re-capturing Seoul on January 4, 1951. There, they were not able to engage the enemy in fighting, due to a lack of supplies. On January 25 Operation Killer started in which the American army pushed the enemy back to a line slightly north of the 38th parallel, which remained stationary for the rest of the war due to strong siege forces. During that time Truman changed its aggressive policy to a moderate policy, because he feared a bitter war in which America would have to face China and Russia, which would have meant WW III.. This is why president Truman removed the aggressive General Macarthur from his office and replaced him with General Ridgway, who was successful in defending the 38th parallel with his strategy known as the active defense. In July 1953, the truce agreement was signed after a series of diplomatic problems about prisoners of war. The casualties were enormous on both sides and the social and economic damage was countless.