Korean War Summary

Korean War Summary

A war between people of the same country, which went on for 3 long years and is also one of the reasons for the Cold War, was the battle between North Korea and South Korea. For a summing up of the main events of this Asian war with European and U.S. interceding and aid, read on.
Whether the whole world is involved or just 2 great nations, war is devastating and its shadow hangs over the participants, long after the physical conflict is over. The Korean War is often overshadowed by World War II and the Vietnam War but it is the first war, where the Chinese and Americans have clashed as well as, is the war responsible for the current situation and division of Korea, into 2 separate countries, the U.S. backed South Korea and communist North Korea.

It also holds the distinction of being a "proxy" war, where there were too many secondary participants and the actual conflict was between two sects of the same country. The causes and effects of such a war are many and most of them are long-term. The enmity between the North Koreans and South Koreans can be traced back to the division of Korea into 2 factions, by the Allied forces after World War II. After that division, U.S. troops were stationed in South Korea, while the North Koreans established a communist government and society, due to a Soviet influence. Below is a summary of the Korean war, which lasted from 1950 to 1953.

Korean War Summary

1950

June 25
The North Koreans (KPA - Korean People's Army) fired the first salvo and entered South Korea through the 38th parallel line serving as the border. The 38th parallel border was always the place for the 2 bordering factions to skirmish. So using the excuse of counter-attacking a raid, the KPA entered South Korea. The United Nations condemned this aggressive step of North Korea and passed resolution 82.

June 26
Seoul was the main target of the North Korean advance. Then president of South Korea, Syngman Rhee feared the consequences of this marching force and knew that they were coming to kill him.

June 27
Syngman Rhee fled Seoul and ordered the Bodo League massacre to take place the next day. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 83, on this day, involving all its member countries, to support South Korea in this conflict and provide military aid. The first show of support came from the US, whose air and sea troops began to leave for Korea.

June 28
Two horrific events took place due to the machinations of the South Koreans. Political prisoners, who were suspected communist sympathizers and members of the Bodo League and South Korean Workers Party, were publicly executed in mass and their bodies were thrown into the sea. This was done by the South Korean military and police, to prevent the prisoners from falling into North Korean hands and supporting them. The second calamity was the bombing of the Hangang Bridge by South Korean officials. This was to delay the North Korean advance and keep them cornered in Seoul itself. But the citizens of Seoul were also trapped within the city, to face the North Korean army.

July - August 1950
This period was a time of planning and devising strategies for the Americans. General Douglas MacArthur was in charge of the South Korean aid war campaign and commanded the US troops which were left in Japan, to regroup and start towards Korea. On the administrative side, President Harry S. Truman was rallying support for the war from the Congress and planning the actual military attack.

5th July
The battle of Osan took place. 540 soldiers of the Task Force Smith fought against the North Koreans at Osan but were defeated. The North Koreans marched on victorious and went on to defeat the US forces, capturing key locations.

July 14 - July 21
The 24th Infantry Division fought the relentless North Korean advance at Taejeon but the North Koreans were victorious and captured Taejeon. This was a major war victory for the North Korean side.

August
The North Koreans seemed unstoppable. On one side, they had beaten one part of the U.S. forces, on the other, they had pinned the joint South Korean and U.S. forces in Pusan. They began to concentrate their attack on the collection of U.S. and South Korean forces at Pusan. But the U.S. troops from Japan and from America, began to land directly at Pusan and at the end of the month, the joint force of U.S. and South Korea had rebuilt itself to fight once again.

September 15
A major break for South Korea came with the Battle of Inchon. It was a strategic amphibious attack, orchestrated by General MacArthur on the city of Incheon. This attack surrounded the North Korean troops, they were encircled from Pusan and Seoul. Faced with a massive U.S. forces, they retreated towards the border of North Korea.

October 1st
The North Koreans had retreated to the 38th parallel border and this time, the U.S. and South Korean forces went on the offensive, crossing the border, to enter North Korea.

October 7th - 31st
The joint U.S.-South Korea forces advanced into North Korea and began to advance northwards. They captured significant cities and towns and on the 19th of October, took over Pyongyang. While the U.S. and South Korea were busy fighting with the North Koreans, China was collecting troops to aid the North Koreans and had formed the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) for this purpose. They began to enter Korea secretly, by avoiding the U.S. air security forces and marching at night. They attacked South Korean troops on 25th of October, in the battle of Onjong.

November 1st
The Chinese and American forces clashed for the first time on this day, in the battle of Unsan. The U.S. forces were surrounded by all sides and taken aback by the hidden attack, so they retreated to the Chongchon River.

November - December 1950
The Chinese kept pressing the offensive, forcing the U.S. and South Korean troops, further out of North Korea. Even the U.S. air support could not quell such a strong force, and by the end of November, the Chinese forces had managed to push the joint U.S.-South Korea forces out of northwest Korea and towards the south.

1951

The Chinese offensive attack kept up through the New Year and on January 4th 1951, along with the North Korean troops, they recaptured Seoul. U.S. forces had retreated but they rallied and started to push back against the tiring Chinese troops. In February, with the help of French troops, the U.S. forces took on a much larger Chinese army and began to fight back, this time with renewed force. In succession, multiple operations took place, all were victorious in pushing back the Chinese army and recapturing Seoul.

Slowly but surely, Chinese forces were forced to retreat to North Korea and at the end of May, the 38th parallel border was guarded by the U.S. and South Korea forces. So at the end of 1951, the North Koreans and Chinese were on the North Korean side of the 38th border, with the South Korean and U.S. forces on the other side.

1952 to 1953

Both sides had reached a stalemate. Each wanted to press on but limited resources and men has restricted them to opposite sides of the 38th border. They would skirmish from time to time but no loss of territory occurred.

In July 1953, the atmosphere of stagnant war was getting to both sides and they started negotiations with each other. Exchange of prisoners and maintaining borders and limits were discussed. The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was established and on 27th July 1953, the Armistice Agreement was signed between the North Korean People's Army, Chinese People's Volunteers and the South Korean army, along with the UN-U.S. task force. No declaration of peace was made but all sides were clear that there would be no more war.

The above brief Korean War summary shows nothing of the estimated 36,000 dead U.S. military personnel, 373,599 dead South Koreans and 1,550,000 lost North Korean lives. The loss of civilians, soldiers and materials may be forgotten in the echoes of time but the Korean War serves as an example of how the war games and political aspirations of a few can devastate and destroy land, life and divide a nation into two parts.
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