Background • Near the end of WWII – Allies agree that Korea should be independent of Japan • 38th Parallel – US occupies area to the south and the Soviets occupy north • North Korea – Democratic Republic of Korea • South Korea – Republic of Korea
Background Continued • US sets up a gov. in the South headed by Syngman Rhee (Rightist dictator) • They call for national elections since 2/3 of Korean Population was south of 38th Parallel • North ignores the request • Soviet backed Kim Il Sung (Communist dictator) takes over in the north
Korea is split • Was the partition de jure or de facto? • de facto – in fact • de jure – in law • Regardless, both governments claimed authority over the entire country • This externally imposed division was bitterly resented by Koreans • What is a Proxy War?
Causes of the War • What was the border like? • Things were volatile. Between October 1949, and June 1950, thousands of soldiers were killed in border incursions. • Asian Policy Speech – 1950 Sec. of State Dean Acheson makes the American Sphere of Influence (in Asia) public but does not mention Taiwan or South Korea. • 5 months later… North Koreans invade South Korea.
Why did the North Invade? • It has been widely argued that Stalin ordered Kim to attack • To keep Korea dependent upon the USSR • To create a diversion for the Americans • However, Tomkinson suggests that there was no real invasion. His evidence: • The border (38th parallel) had been volatile. • The timing of the ‘invasion’ was too advantageous to the Americans to simply be a coincidence.
Another Option • Perhaps the North Koreans simply wanted to unite their country once again… • It is possible that Kim Il Sung was able to convince Stalin that he could win a quick war (especially given Acheson’s speech) • If this is the case, this seems more like a localized civil war and less like a major world wide flare up within the cold war (at least in the beginning)
The Korean War Begins… • The USA and 14 other countries send troops to help the South (but the force was mostly US) • The UN forces were under the command of General Douglas McArthur
In the beginning, the North Koreans win a series of battles and the South Koreans are driven steadily southward until they hold only a small area around Pusan. • Then, in a risky but brilliant move, McArthur commands the South Koreans to make amphibious landings in the rear of enemy lines (INCHON LANDING)
The Course of the War • The North Koreans are forced to retreat • Emboldened by success, Truman changes the supposed goal of the War from containment to a Rollback Strategy. Now they wanted to reunite the country by force… • However, now there was another problem
China’s Angry! • The Chinese had already expressed that that they would become involved if the fighting got too close to their border. • The Chinese feared a US backed attempt by Chinese Nationalists to attack China and reverse the Communist revolution • The Chinese wished to keep a buffer zone. • General McArthur had specifically stated that he wanted to invade China!
China attacks! • The Chinese made good on their threats • Over 300,000 Chinese troops cross the border and drive the US army back south of the 38th parallel • Pyongyang and Seoul are captured by the Chinese • When the Chinese enter, this creates an entirely new and avoidable war which will not end for another three years
Whoops! • Truman abandons his plan to take the whole of Korea and settles for containment once the allied troops make their way back to the 38th parallel
Teach me how to Dougie • Douglas McArthur criticizes Truman’s policy of limited war and calls for an all out attack on China. • He wants the authority to blockade and Nuke china (only 30-50 times) • He even directly contradicted Truman and gave the Chinese a personal altimatum
McArthur is fired! • He is replaced by Gen. Matthew B. Ridgeway • Back home, other generals testify that if we would have done what McArthur wanted, the extended war would expose Europe to attack
Armistice • Truce negotiations take place for many months after they begin in 1951 • Dwight D. Eisenhower (the newly elected President) finally signs an armistice at Panmunjom on July 7, 1953 • Armies are separated by a demilitarized zone • Things are restored to the status quo ante bellum • Prisoners of war are exchanged
Results • Death toll: • 1,300,000 South Koreans • 1,000,000 Chinese • 500,000 North Koreans • 54,000 Americans • 4,500 Allies (Non-American) Many of Korean casualties are civilians, and about 5 million are homeless Infrastructure is devastated KOREA IS STILL SPLIT*** War never officially ended