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Was the Korean War a Success for Containment?. Was the Korean War a Success for Containment?. L/O – To identify the key features of the Korean War and to evaluate the US policy of containment. Starter – List 3 causes and 3 consequences of the Berlin Crisis 1948-49. Background.

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was the korean war a success for containment

Was the Korean War a Success for Containment?

Was the Korean War a Success for Containment?

L/O – To identify the key features of the Korean War and to evaluate the US policy of containment

Starter – List 3 causes and 3 consequences of the Berlin Crisis 1948-49

  • After the take-over of eastern Europe, China became Communist in 1949. The US had pumped $2 billion in aid into China to support the Nationalists. Suddenly, a new Communist nation had emerged!
  • Spies had also reported that Stalin was using COMINFORM to help Communists win power in Malaya, Indonesia, Burma, the Phillippines and Korea.
  • It seemed as if Communism was spreading, with countries toppling like dominoes.
causes of the korean war
Causes of the Korean War
  • Korea was ruled by the Japanese and was liberated in WW2 by Soviet troops in the northern half and American troops in the southern half of Korea.
  • After the war North Korea established a communist government, helped by the USSR. It was led by Kim Il Sung. He wanted to unite North and South under Communist rule.
  • South Korea became a democratic country and allied itself with the USA. It was led by Syngman Rhee. He wanted to maintain a democratic Korea.

On 25th June 1950, the North sent 90,000 Communist troops, equipped with Soviet tanks and equipment into South Korea. By September, all except a small corner of Korea was under Communist rule.

Kim il Sung

Syngman Rhee

american response
American Response
  • Truman declared that the Truman Doctrine applied to Asia as well as Europe. He asked the UN for support.
  • Normally the USSR would have used its power of veto to block action but it was boycotting the UN because the USA had blocked the entry of Communist China.
  • The USSR could not veto action and the US was also the biggest contributor to the UN budget. The vote was passed, a UN fighting force would be sent in to push North Korean forces back.

Why would Truman have been worried about events in Korea?

Why would Truman have felt confident enough to take action in 1950?



UN Forceswho fought together in Korea

Technically American troops weren’t fighting the Korean War. The United Nations sent troops ‘keep peace’. As America was the most important and richest country in the U.N. it sent the most troops and supplied most of the weapons. In reality America dominated the U.N. and influenced its allies into supporting what it was doing in Korea.


The U.N forces were on the defensive side until September 15 when the American forces, under the command of General MacArthur successfully landed on Inchon.

The landing allowed the U.N forces to break through the Pusan perimeter, to retake Seoul, and to cross the thirty-eighth parallel by September 30.


The North Koreans had been pushed back beyond their original border (38th parallel) within weeks. General Douglas MacArthur was seen as a hero. But the Americans did not stop.

  • Despite warnings from Mao Zedong, that pressing on would mean China joining the war, the UN approved a plan to advance into North Korea. US forces had reached the Yalu river and border with China by October 1950.
  • It was clear that MacArthur and Truman wanted to remove Communism from Korea completely.

MacArthur had underestimated the Chinese. Late in October 1950, 200,000 Chinese troops (People’s Volunteers’) joined North Korea, launching a counter attack.

  • UN forces were pushed back into South Korea but recovered and a final stalemate was reached around the 38th parallel.
  • MacArthur wanted to carry on the war, suggesting the use of Nuclear Weapons. Truman rejected this and MacArthur was sacked in April 1951.

During the months of May and April of 1951, there was a sort of "see-saw" fighting along the thirty-eighth parallel with neither units really advancing beyond the parallel. Bysummer of 1951, talks for an armistice began.

Throughout mid-1951 to 1953, negotiation for peace treaty stalled and reopened.

In a bid to intimidate North Korea and to end the war quickly, the use of nuclear weapons were considered.

The armistice was finally signed on July 27, 1953.


The Korean War can be divided into three phases.

The first phase began on June 25, 1950 and ended on the day United Nations (U.N) forces thrust into North Korea's territory.

The second phase of the Korean War was essentially the Southern attack and retreat from North Korea.

The last phase of the war consisted of the "see-saw" fighting on the thirty-eighth parallel, stalemate, and negotiation talks.

LO: To understand and explain the events surrounding the Korean war


These maps show how each side pushed the other until they almost ended up back at the point where the war had begun


Why did America get involved in the Korean War?

China had become Communist in 1949 and this really worried the Americans. They were worried that Communism was spreading throughout the world, the existence of COMINFORM seemed to confirm this.

The USA was keen that the rest of the Far East and South East Asia would not fall to the Communists as well. E.g. (countries like Malaya, Indonesia, Burma and Vietnam). The USA called this threatthe Domino Theory.


What were the Lessons of the Korean War?

  • The USA learnt that there were risks associated with the policy of containment.
  • Over one million people died in the war and what started out as confrontation with North Korea quickly got out of hand when China, the country with the worlds largest army, became involved.

What were the Lessons of the Korean War?

  • America underestimated the Chinese. American troops ignored Chinese warnings and got too close to the Chinese boarder.
  • In October 1950 200,000 Chinese troops joined the North Koreans. These troops had been taught to hate the Americans and were prepared to die for Communism. They also had modern weapons supplied by the USSR.

The American General in charge in Korea, Douglas MacArthur, was sacked by President Truman because he not only wanted to free South Korea but he wanted to remove the communists from North Korea and then carry the war on into China! He even asked for permission to use nuclear weapons.


From 1950 to the day of the armistice on July 27, 1953, more than 3 million Koreans died

About 1 million Chinese

died in the war.


American casualties numbered 54,246 people.

LO: To understand and explain the events surrounding the Korean war

korean war 1950 53 summary

Korean War 1950-53: Summary

Korea split on 38th parallel: North USSR sponsored Communist; South USA sponsored democracy.

1950 North invades South.

UN troops push North back; close of China border.

USA ignored Chinese warnings; China invades.

Stalemate; Korea remains divided.

USSR allowed UN vote to send UN troops to Korea.

Truman sacks MacArthur (asked to use nuclear bomb)

Stalin dies 1953; USSR/China want peace in Korea.