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The Korean Conflict. First Proxy War of the Cold War. Questions to Consider. What were the causes of the Korean (Conflict) War? Why, and with what consequences, did the United States get involved with Korea? What motivated Truman’s policy toward Korea?

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The korean conflict

The Korean Conflict

First Proxy War of the Cold War

Questions to consider
Questions to Consider

  • What were the causes of the Korean (Conflict) War?

  • Why, and with what consequences, did the United States get involved with Korea?

  • What motivated Truman’s policy toward Korea?

  • Did Truman’s decision broaden a civil war into a proxy battle in the Cold War?

  • What changes in policy occurred under the Eisenhower administration?

Prelude to conflict
Prelude to Conflict

  • Korea had been an independent country since the 6th Century

  • 1895- Japan defeats China in the First Sino-Japanese War and occupied Korea

  • 1905- Japan defeats the Russian navy in the Russo-Japanese War declaring Korea as a protectorate

  • 1910- Korea forced to sign Treaty of Annexation making Korea part of Japanese Empire

Prelude to conflict1
Prelude to Conflict

  • Yalta Conference1945- agreed that Soviet and American troops would occupy Korea after the Japanese are defeated.

  • August 10, 1945- USSR enters Korea and waits at the 38th Parallel

  • September 9, 1945- US accepts Japanese surrender South of 38th Parallel

  • US and USSR to work towards “trusteeship” before Koreans “ready” for self-rule

    • The north leans toward communism

    • The south leans toward conservative nationalism

Two countries in one nation
Two Countries in One Nation

  • Representative Democratic Council and Civil unrest in the south in opposition to trusteeship leads the US to call for elections in Korea

  • Sygmann Rhee emerges as the strongman, anti-communist leader of the South Republic of Korea (ROK)

  • Kim-Il Sung becomes the communist dictator of the North Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)

  • Rhee and Kim want a single country under their rule; both regard the other as illegitimate

Causes of the korean war
Causes of the Korean War

  • 1948-1950 minor border clashes between ROK and DPRK

  • June 25, 1950- Soviet supplied North Korean Army struck with 200,000 troops in the pre-dawn hours crossing the 38th parallel.

  • The South Korean Army is quickly overwhelmed and the capitol Seoul falls on June 28th

The united nations responds
The United Nations Responds

  • UN Security Council Resolution 82 condemns the attack. USSR boycott

  • June 27th - Truman orders US air and naval forces to assist South Korea

  • June 27th- UN Security Council Resolution 83 recommending member states defend ROK

  • July 7th- UNSC 84 places 12 UN states under US command in Korea

Truman s decision
Truman’s Decision

  • June 27th - Truman orders US air and naval forces to assist South Korea, without consulting Congress

  • Communism was acting in Korea, just as Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese had…years earlier. If the Communists were permitted to force their way into the Republic of Korea without opposition from the free world, no small nation would have the courage to resist threat and aggression by stronger communist neighbors. - Harry S Truman

Truman s decision1
Truman’s Decision

  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Omar Bradley, testified to Congress and spoke out against "appeasement" and declared that Korea was as good a place as any "for drawing the line" against Communist expansion.

  • Truman and Secretary of State Acheson ask Congress to appropriate funds for additional military expenses essential to the goals of NSC-68 and in August 1950, $12 billion for military expenses in Asia was authorized.

  • US refused Taiwan’s (ROC) request to participate in military action, Truman’s goal to prevent drawing “Red” China into conflict.

Course of the conflict
Course of the Conflict

  • Initial support by US was through air cover for naval landing of supplies to ROK

  • Task Force Smith was ordered into the first ground battle with North Korean forces in the Battle of Osan. UN-ROK and the US 8th Army forces are defeated and pushed into Pusan

  • North Koreans held at the Nakdong River

Course of the conflict1
Course of the Conflict

  • UN Commander General Douglas Macarthur counterattacks with an landing in Incheon on September 15th, 1950.

  • UN-ROK forces successfully take Incheon and cut off a North Korean retreat to the North

  • ROK and US 8th Army quickly advanced north of the 38th Parallel and capture the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on October 19th

Course of conflict china
Course of Conflict: China

  • Truman warned MacArthur not to threaten the Chinese border at the Yalu River

  • MacArthur assured the President …if the Chinese tried to get down to Pyongyang, there would be the greatest slaughter.

  • Mao Zedong ordered the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army to assemble at the Yalu the day the US crossed the 38th

  • Mao requested Soviet support in an attack on US forces on the grounds of stopping the spread of US influence in Asia and halting the communist revolution. USSR sent materiel and MIG jet fighters (with pilots)

  • November 1st 1950 the Chinese attack US, ROK pushing them below the 38th parlellel. Capturing Seoul in 1951

Course of conflict stalemate
Course of Conflict: Stalemate

  • July 1951-1953 no significant changes in territory.

    • Trench warfare near the 38th

    • US engages in bombing campaign of North Korea

  • Peace negotiations in Panmunjom continue for two years, staled over the issue of repatriating POWs

    • DPRK and China want their soldiers repatriated (even if they want to remain in South) Issue is eventually dropped to win a cease fire

  • October 1951, Operation Hudson Harbor. Practice bombing runs with “dummy atomic bombs.” Decide against nukes because “timely identification of large masses of enemy troops was extremely rare.”

Course of conflict armistice
Course of Conflict: Armistice

  • President-elect Eisenhower visits On November 29, 1952 to fulfilled a campaign promise by going to Korea to find out what could be done to end the conflict

  • July 27, 1953 - cease-fire:

    • Front line was back around the proximity of the 38th parallel

    • Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was established around 38th parallel, presently defended by North Korean troops on one side and by South Korean, American and UN troops on the other.

    • North Korea and the United States signed the Armistice Agreement, with Syngman Rhee refusing to sign.

    • Technically the war is not over, only a prolonged cease-fire


  • Casualties

    • South Korea…………58,127

    • United States…….....36,515

    • UN (-US).....................3,500

    • North Korea………..215,000

    • China……………….114,000

  • Over 600,000 civilian dead ROK and DPRK


  • First proxy war in the Cold War, the US and USSR could confront each other indirectly through limited, non-nuclear, warfare.

  • First conflict with UN participation

  • Truman Doctrine dedication to containment

    • American defense budget increased to $50 billion, the Army and Air Groups doubled in size and they were deployed outside American territory (ex.-West Germany)

    • Executive Order 9981- racially integrated US Army