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Overview. Understand the historical background and underlying causes of the Korean War Know the significant events which shaped the outcome of the Korean War. Potsdam Conference (July 16 to Aug 2, 1945).

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  • Understand the historical background and underlying causes of the Korean War
  • Know the significant events which shaped the outcome of the Korean War
potsdam conference july 16 to aug 2 1945
Potsdam Conference (July 16 to Aug 2, 1945)
  • At Potsdam that the allies decided, without consulting the Koreans, to divide the peninsula at the 38th Parallel. American Lt. General John R. Hodge following surrender of Japan was appointed military governor of South Korea Hodge established control by restoring power to key Japanese colonial administrators and their Korean police collaborators.
  • In December 1945, Korea was administered by a US–USSR Joint Commission. It was decided the country would become independent after a five-year trusteeship action.
  • This provoked civil unrest and even guerilla warfare, resulting in further crackdowns. Civil disorder spread throughout the country in what became known as the Autumn uprising.
road to separation
Road to Separation
  • Anti-Communist nationalist leader Syngman Rhee, opposed the Soviet–American trusteeship of Korea arguing it was just another foreign occupation
  • On November 14, 1947 the United Nations passed UN Resolution 112, calling for a general election under the supervision of the UN Commission. The Soviet Union refused to comply with the UN resolution and denied the UN Commission access to the northern part of Korea. U.S. backed South Korea decided to forego the five year trusteeship agreed and planned for elections in May 1948.
road to separation1
Road to Separation
  • The South Korea elections resulted in a constitution and president, Syngman Rhee.
  • The Republic of Korea(South Korea) was officially established on August 15. Rhee purged the Communists in the south , many of whom headed north to prepare for war.
  • North Korea held parliamentary elections on August 25, 1948. On September 9, the communist Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) was proclaimed, led by former anti-Japanese guerilla fighter Kim Il-Sung.
road to war
Road to War
  • In early 1949, the U.S. began to disengage from Korea in every way.
  • Undersecretary of State Acheson, stated publically that South Korea was not a vital part of the U.S. defense perimeter in Asia. The U.S. military withdrawal was completed by June 1949, with only 500 military advisors remaining behind.
  • Both Kim Il-Sung and Syngman Rhee wanted to unify the Korean peninsula under their rule and ideology.
  • The U.S. Congress became nervous that if too much military aid was given to South Korea, Rhee would use it to invade the North, hence the U.S. only provided South Korea light arms and armor only, withholding heavy tanks and aircraft.
korean war phase i
Korean War: Phase I
  • June 25, 1950: North Korean forces crossed the 38th Parallel and attacked South Korea. The United Nations Security Council condemned the invasion.
  • On June 26th, North Korean tanks reached the outskirts of Seoul.
  • Test of the Truman Doctrine and Domino Theory
  • The US immediately began using air and naval forces and initially believed they would be enough to stop North Korean forces.
  • The U.S. refrained from sending ground troops for fear that the North Korean attack might be a diversionary tactic to engage America in Korea, leaving the Soviets free to attack somewhere else.
  • Once the Soviet Union suggested it would not move against the deployment of US ground forces in Korea, the U.S. committed ground forces
korean war phase i1
Korean War: Phase I
  • Hampered by lack of communications equipment and shortages of heavy weapons, U.S./ROK forces were pushed back
  • August 4, 1950: The Battle of Pusan Perimeter began. From Aug 4 to Sept15, the US Army withstood numerous attacks. The USAF interrupted enemy movements by destroying 32 bridges and bombing convoys, halting most daytime road and rail traffic and forcing the North Korean to move supplies only at night.
korean war phase ii
Korean War: Phase II
  • Inchon: September 15, 1950: To relieve pressure on Pusan, General MacArthur launched an ingenious amphibious assault on the West Coast of South Korea, at Inchon, a hundred miles away from Pusan.
  • From Inchon, American units moved both Northward, through the 38th Parallel, and southwest to effect of relief of the forces at Pusan.
  • October 15, 1950: Truman and MacArthur met at Wake Island for a meeting, MacArthur insisted there was little risk of Chinese intervention in Korea. However, on that same day, Chinese forces secretly crossed the Yalu River into North Korea.
korean war phase iii
Korean War: Phase III
  • October 24-25, 1950: MacArthur ordered his troops into Korea's northernmost provinces. On, October 25th, Chinese forces annihilated South Korean ROK forces at Pukchin.
  • November 25, 1950: Chinese forces attack and over-run the ROK at the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River, and then decimated the US 2nd Infantry Division.
  • December 15, 1950: UN forces re-crossed the 38th Parallel back into South Korea. President Truman declared a state of national emergency
korean war phase iv
Korean War: Phase IV
  • December 31, 1950: Chinese/North Korean forces had taken Seoul. General MacArthur considers using nuclear weapons against the Chinese
  • March, 1951: Fighting stabilizes along the 38th Parallel. US retake Seoul
  • March 24, 1951: MacArthur unilaterally issues an ultimatum to China. MacArthur threatened to destroy China unless it surrendered.
  • April 11, 1951: President Truman removes MacArthur from his post, explaining that the general had been “…unable to give his wholehearted support to the policies of the United States government and the United Nations.”
stalemate to cease fire
Stalemate to Cease Fire
  • Military Stalemate from June 51 to July 1953.
  • July 27, 1953: The Cease Fire Treaty was signed at Panmunjom. The 38th parallel was reset as the boundary between communist North and anti-communist South. Cold War tensions continued unabated.
current korean security concerns
Current Korean Security Concerns
  • United States still heavily committed to South Korean defense
  • Proximity of Japanese Ally
  • Unpredictability of North Korea
  • Nuclear Weapons Program and Missile Technology
  • U.S. Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense