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Korean War

The Forgotten

Korean Peninsula
Japanese colony from
Strategically important
peninsula for China,
Russia and Japan
Two countries today: The
Democratic People's
Republic of Korea and
Republic of Korea
Fighting ended July 1953
with an armistice

Beginning of the Cold War

End of WWII brought the Cold War to the

forefront of US foreign policy
Officially this policy was called containment
George F. Keenan who wrote,expansionist tendencies
of the Soviet Union must be contained.
The Soviet Union was seen as a major threat to free
institutions of the Western world.
Keenan proposed that the Soviet Union (and its
communist allies) should be confronted whenever and
wherever they propose a risk of gaining influence.

38th Parallel

North Korea invaded by

Soviet Union in August

Fearing that the Soviets

intended to invade the
entire peninsula, US quickly
moved troops to the south

The US/Soviet Union agreed

to divide the peninsula
along the 38th parallel

38th Parallel

War broke out June

25, 1950

North Korean troops

crossed the 38th
parallel and moved
towards Seoul

United Nations Response

The United Nations Security Council responded to the attack

(a 9-0 vote) with a resolution that condemned the invasion
as a "breach of the peace."
The Council did not have a Soviet delegate, since 6 months prior, the
Soviet Union had left to protest the United Nation's refusal to seat a
delegate from China.

President Harry S. Truman committed American forces to a

combined United Nations military
Fifteen other nations also sent troops under the U.N. command.

Truman did not seek a formal declaration of war from

Congress; officially, America's presence in Korea amounted
to no more than a "police action."

US Involvement Critical

In 1949 the Soviet

Union conducted its
first tests of the atom
bomb, ending the
United States'
monopoly on the

Comunist Revolution China

In1949 China underwent

a revolution that brought
Mao Zedong and his
Communist party into
PRC (Peoples Republic of
China) was created in
October 1949

This revolution
suspended diplomatic
ties between the US and
China until the 1970s.
Note: Maos cultural
revolution would not
begin until 1965

US Involvement Critical

When North Korean troops invaded the South, the

Truman administration grabbed the opportunity to
defend a noncommunist government from invasion
by communist troops.

Determined not to "lose" another country to

communism, Truman executed first test of
containment policy.

The invasion of South Korea made Truman genuinely

fearful that the Soviet Union and China intended to
expand the sphere of communism throughout Asia.

US Involvement Critical

Although the United States took the lead in the Korean

action, it did so under the rubric of the United Nations.

President Truman said to the world that these actions

fell within recommendations by the United Nations.
"all members of the United Nations should consider carefully
the consequences of this latest aggression in Korea" and that
America "will continue to uphold the rule of law.

NOTE: This differs DRAMATICALLY from US actions in


Air Power

Air power was a defining element in this war

A new phase of air war opened when American B-29

bombers and their fighter escorts were challenged by
Russian-built MiG-15 fighters flown by Chinese airmen.

The MiG-15's outflew first-generation American jet

fighters until the introduction of the swept-wing F-86
Sabre tipped the balance.

In the world's first supersonic air combats, the

Americans prevailed.


B29 bomber Superfortress

F86 Sabre

Chinese Intervention

As the war neared

Manchuria in spring of
1951, China launched
troops to defend its

The Chinese launched

two major offensives.

Not wishing full

engagement of Chinese
forces, UN forces quickly
moved back toward the
38th parallel


Mid-1951 land battle was at a stalemate.

Both sides agreed to go to the conference table and armistice talks

began, which dragged for two years.

The main point of conflict was the future of the tens of thousands of
communist prisoners held in camps on Koje Island off the coast of
South Korea.

Communist negotiators were determined that be returned to their

country of origin, but thousands of prisoners were unwilling to be

There were several great rebellions in the Koje camps before an

agreement enabled those who wished to be repatriated to go home and
granted asylum for


In July 1953, calm descended over the battlefields

and in Operation Big Switch, thousands of former
prisoners on each side were returned.

A Demilitarised Zone or DMZ was established on

the border.
This DMZ still exists today (2012) and is considered the
worlds most dangerous border.
Skirmishes still erupt between North and South Korea on
this heavily guarded border.
Most heavily armed/guarded border in the world

DMZ North & South



Both sides withdrew from their fighting

positions, and a UN commission was set up to
supervise the armistice.

Armistice was signed on 27 July 1953

agreement to stop fighting, it is not the same as a
peace treaty.

No peace treaty was ever signed and officially,

North and South Korea are still at war.

Terms of Armistice

A suspension of open hostilities

A fixed line with a four kilometer buffer zone - the

so-called demilitarization zone

A mechanism for the transfer of prisoners of war

Both sides pledged not to "execute any hostile act

within, from, or against the demilitarized zone", or
enter areas under control of the other.
However, both sides still engage in occasional fire and
accuse the other of violating the armistice.





Casualties : dead and

wounded : 1.3 million
South Korean military;
520,000 North Korean
Over 3 million civilian
casualties. Much industry
destroyed, agriculture
ruined, millions of


Gained respect by taking

prompt and direct action.
Used combined force to
stop aggression. Achieved
joint action by members.

17,000 casualties; conduct

of war almost entirely by
USA and UN could have
been seen as a USA


Saved South Korea from

communism. Containment
policy seen to work
against Asian communism

142,000 casualties.
Defence spending went up
from 12 to 60 billion
dollars and failed to
liberate North Korea.


Achieved closer friendship

with China. Conflict
between China and USA
was to Russias

Forced into an expensive

arms race with America.


Gained the respect of

Asian communism. Saved
North Korea from America.
Kept a crucial buffer state
on the eastern frontier.
Achieved closer friendship
with Russia

390,000 casualities
official Chinese sources

North Koreas Nuclear Program

Conducted first explosive
test 2006
Requested direct (bilateral)
talks with US Bush
administration, which were
Multi-party talks occurred in
2009 and North Korea agreed
to dismantle part of its
nuclear program
2011 talks resumed with
Obama administration.

North Koreas Nuclear Program

Unstable country under the
leadership of the eccentric Kim
Jong IL
Unstability continues under the
leadership of 28 year old Kim
IAEA inspectors kicked out in
Direct threats to democratic
South Korea and on US list of
state sponsored terrorists
United Nations sanctions in
place since 2003 withdrawal
from NPT as North Korea is a
threat to international peace
and security.

Inside North Korea