World War II divided Korea into a Communist, northern half and an American-occupied southern half, divided at the 38th parallel. The Korean War (1950-1953) began when the North Korean Communist army crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded non-Communist South Korea. As Kim Il-sung’s North Korean army, armed with Soviet tanks, quickly overran South Korea, the United States came to South Korea’s aid. General Douglas MacArthur, who had been overseeing the post-WWII occupation of Japan, commanded the US forces which now began to hold off the North Koreans at Pusan, at the southernmost tip of Korea. Although Korea was not strategically essential to the United States, the political environment at this stage of the Cold War was such that policymakers did not want to appear “soft on Communism.” Nominally, the US intervened as part of a “police action” run by a UN (United Nations) international peace- keeping force; in actuality, the UN was simply being manipulated by US and NATO anti-Communist interests.
Questions to ponder!!
- Was Korean war an international war? What do kids think about it?
- Did India participate in Korean War?
- What was the main reason behind Korean war?
- Did the war itself have any outcomes?
- Why did the North Koreans name society division of people of names of fruits ?
Terms of Importance
- Proxy War: a war instigated by a major power which does not itself become involved.
- Breach: Breaking pact / agreement
- Armistice: An armistice is a formal agreement of warring parties to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, as it may constitute only a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace.
- Blair House: Normally the Vice President’s residence, Truman lived in Blair House because the White House was being renovated. It was in Blair House that Truman and his key advisors met to discuss the Korean War.
- Demilitarized Zone: A buffer zone between North and South Korea created under the terms of the armistice signed on July 27, 1953, which ended the war. Though the zone was supposed to be free of both troops and weapons, in practice it is heavily militarized, with over 1 million North and South Korean troops facing off.
- Formosa: Today called Taiwan, Formosa was the seat of Chiang Kai- Shek’s Chinese nationalist government-in-exile after it was defeated by Mao’s Communist forces.
- Inchon: A port on the West Coast of Korea. On September 15, 1950, MacArthur made a surprise amphibious landing here which allowed his X Corps to retake Seoul and the rest of South Korea.