The Forgotten War - Battle for Korea

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The Forgotten War
Battle for Korea

“The wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy.” -Omar Bradley

The Forgotten War

In the past half century, the conflict within the once unified nation of Korea has been the centre of global attention. The Korean War (1950-1953), although nicknamed “The Forgotten War,” was actually an extremely significant historical event. The causes of the war and events that took place over the course of the war were substantial; the war had many lasting political and social effects; and it relates to Canada’s history as a whole. Many of the effects of the Korean War, such as the tension between the United States and China, are still present in the world today. For this reason, and the fact that it was such an important event in history, it is important to know about the initial war against communist expansion that occurred in Korea over 50 years ago. Before going into detail about the after effects of the Korean War on the world, it is important to understand the basic events that took place, and its causes. After World War One, America and the Soviet Union (still allies) decided to help Korea establish a stable government; the US helped areas of Korea south of the 38th parallel, and the Soviet Union helped Northern Korea (Granfield xix). After the relationship between the US and the Soviet Union took a turn for the worst with the beginnings of the Cold War, Northern and Southern Korea became their own separate regimes, the North being Communist and the South Capitalist and anti-communist. North Korea became known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and its leader was Premier Kim Il Sung. The South of Korea became known as the Republic of Korea and was led by an elected president, Syngman Rhee (Granfield, xx).

Both wanted to unify Korea again under their rule. North Korean forces (with the support of the Soviet Union and China) invaded South Korea in 1950. Contrary to the expectations of Kim Il Sung, America and the UN immediately got involved and sent help to push back the North Korean forces (www.johndclare.net). Canada was a part of the UN forces. Canada’s initial contribution to the war was small, but by the end of the war Canada had sent over a vast amount of soldiers; around 25 000 (Gillmor 194). They also contributed by winning the battle of Kap ‘Yong along with the Australian forces (www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com). Much of the fighting took place around the 38th parallel, and when the war finally “ended” in an armistice, the DMZ (demilitarized zone) was set up near it, and is still there today (Oberdorfer 7). The war lasted 3 long years and had the immediate effect of claiming a total of over 1 million lives. The Korean War also had many long-lasting and impacting effects on the world, resulting in both political and social consequences. First and foremost, it fully instilled the Cold war, and in a way, was the first battle or “proxy war.” There had already been lots of building tension between America and the US during the few years after World War Two, but after the Korean War, their rivalry had been cemented and become serious. America’s fear of communist expansion increased dramatically, which is in part why they intervened in Vietnam; to avoid another North Korea (www.emagasia.com). Another important political change caused by the Korean War is that it affected the Canada-America relationship. Even Lester B Pearson himself was disappointed in the lengths that Americas seemed willing to go to in “defending the free world” (www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com). One instance that created uneasiness surrounding the international leadership of the US was when General...
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