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Korean War
Korean War

11/7/2013

Jennifer Landers

Korean War

The departure of American and Soviet troops from Korea in 1949
Under a UN agreement, both the Soviet Union and the United States withdrew their military forces from Korea, but both left large numbers of advisors on the peninsula. The two sides were to continue negotiations over elections to reunify the country, and although the United States preferred that the resulting government not be communist, in 1949 it was still not prepared to commit militarily to preventing that outcome.
North Korea attacks: June 24, 1950
Both Korean governments had been adamant about reunifying the peninsula, and the Soviet-supported DPRK saw an opportunity to do so with a swift strike.
Truman’s response to the Korean invasion: June 25-30, 1950
The United States viewed the attack on the South as evidence that communism would actively challenge the free world and revised its security perimeter to include maintaining a non-communist South Korea. The UN sent forces composed of troops from 15 nations to the peninsula to stop the communist advance.
The decision to invade North Korea
President Harry Truman had proclaimed in early 1950 that he would not defend the Nationalists from a Communist attack, but after the outbreak of hostilities in Korea he moved the U.S. Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Strait to discourage the spread of military conflict in the region.
China joining the Korean War
In September of 1950, UN forces led by U.S. General Douglas A. MacArthur managed to regain lost ground in South Korea and push north, forcing a reaction from the Chinese.
Truman’s refusal to allow direct conflict with China
MacArthur insisted on the extension of the conflict into China, and on April 11, 1951, he was removed from his command on the charge of insubordination and replaced by General Matthew Ridgeway. By July 1951, the conflict had reached a stalemate, with the two sides fighting limited engagements, but with neither side in a position to force the other’s surrender.
MacArthur’s going public in arguing for war with China
He gave his famous "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away" speech. Public opinion was strongly against Truman's actions, but the president stuck to his decision without regret or apology. Eventually, MacArthur did "just fade away," and the American people began to understand that his policies and recommendations might have led to a massively expanded war in Asia.
Negotiation over POWs and stalemate
After more than two years of negotiations, the adversaries signed an armistice on July 27, 1953. The agreement allowed the POWs to stay where they liked; drew a new boundary near the 38th parallel that gave South Korea an extra 1,500 square miles of territory; and created a 2-mile-wide “demilitarized zone” that still exists today.
Threatens nuclear bombs
On Nov. 5 1950, the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued orders for the retaliatory atomic bombing of Manchurian military bases, if either their armies crossed into Korea or if PRC or KPA bombers attacked Korea from there. The President ordered the transfer of nine Mark-4 nuclear capsules "to the Air Force's Ninth Bomb Group, the designated carrier of the weapons, and signed an order to use them against Chinese and Korean targets. On Nov. 30, 1950, the USAF Strategic Air Command was ordered to "augment its capacities, and this should include atomic capabilities. President Truman remarked that his government was actively considering using the atomic bomb to end the war in Korea but that only he commanded atomic bomb use.

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