What Caused the Korean War

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Class: 4A1 • Date: 23 January, 2013
Xavier Ho • Clement Chia • Bruce Ong • Fan Zhi Qing • Ding Yi Fan

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After World War II, Koreans rejoiced at the defeat of the Japanese, but their joy was short-lived. As the Cold War began to develop in Europe, the USA and USSR were unable to reach an agreement on the unification of Korea - they could not agree on what form the government should take, the type of economy it should have, on the alliances it should make.

Liberation from the war did not result in immediate freedom and instead, the country was divided by ideological differences caused by the emerging Cold War. World War II divided Korea into a Communist, northern half and an Americanoccupied southern half, divided at the 38th parallel. As a result, Koreans were unable to establish an independent government. In November 1947, United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that called for general elections under the supervision of a UN Commission. However, the Soviet Union refused to comply with the resolution and denied the UN Commission access to the northern half of Korea. UN General Assembly then adopted another resolution calling for elections in areas accessible to the UN Commission. The first elections in Korea were carried out on May 10, 1948, in the area south of the 38th parallel. The parallel came to divide the Korean Peninsula in to South and North. Syngman Rhee was elected the first President of the Republic of Korea in 1948. Meanwhile, north of the 38th parallel, a Communist regime was set up under the leadership of Kim Il- sung.

At this time, both regimes were extremely authoritarian and both leaders (both of whom intended to remain as leader in any future unification) were nationalists who resented the division of their country, and who wanted to bring about reunification as soon as possible.

The Korean War then began in June 1950, when a large North Korean army began its invasion of South Korea, in an attempt to reunite the country; there is some evidence to suggest that a similar invasion was being prepared by the ruler of South Korea.

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On June 25, 1950, North Korea launched an unprovoked full-scale invasion of the South, triggering The Korean War (1950-1953) which was joined by U.S., Chinese and other foreign forces, for a span of three years.

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.

The entire peninsula was devastated by
the conflict. A cease –fire was signed
in June 1953.
With the US, UN, and South Korean
(ROK) forces pinned against the sea at
Pusan, MacArthur orchestrated a
daring amphibious assault on Inchon,
a port on the western coast of Korea.
Having made this landing, MacArthur
crushed the North Korean army in a
pincer movement and recaptured
Seoul, the capital of South Korea.
Instead of being satisfied with his
rapid reconquest of South Korea,
MacArthur crossed the 38th Parallel
and pursued the North Korean army
all the way to the northernmost
provinces of North Korea.
Afraid that the US was interested in taking North Korea as a base for operations against Manchuria, the People's Republic of China secretly sent an army across the Yalu River. This Chinese army attacked the US/UN/ROK forces. Although President Truman hoped to end the war quickly and pressed MacArthur to be more tactful, the brilliant strategist went against presidential orders and continued...
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