The Korean War Essay

The Korean War


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            Do you know that diplomacy sometimes fails to resolve conflicts? The American history is one that is characterized by a series of wars. From the First World 1, through World War II to the Cold War, It has been combat after combat in the US. The United States has always found itself at the center of the battlefield. In particular, the US participated fully in the Korean War and was perhaps one of the initiators of the War. Though the Korean war involved direct military encounter between North and South Korea, it was in fact a war of ideologies between the United States, the anti communists and the USSR, the pro communists.

Origin of the Korean War

            In the 17th century, Korea was one independent and united country. Peace did not reign for long as two opposing regimes of Korea started disagreeing. After the war of between the years 1894-1895 took place, Japan occupied some parts of Korea. The entire Korean State was conjured by Japan in the August of 1910. Towards the WWII culmination, the United States of America and the Soviet Union had occupied the peninsula of Korea. [1]

            The signs of war had begun as early as 1945 with peninsula being divided into zones of occupation by the United States and the Soviet Union. The divisions perpetuated because the two regions of Korea (North and South) failed to come into a unification agreement. Competition took its toll and the two regions polarized the politics of Korea. This resulted into the country’s division into two regimes that were very hostile towards each other. At the time, in the neighboring China, communists had won in a civil war.[2]

            The Korean War broke out in the early morning hours of Sunday 25th June 1950. It started with a small crackle of fire arms and suddenly, a hollow artillery boom interrupted the raindrops patter. There had been constant frictions between the Northern and the Southern regions of Korea over border issues.  The Northern part of Korea had of course initiated the combat that was to shake the whole world. About 90,000 North Korean troops with 150 T-34 tanks invaded South Korea. The South Korean troop that had to counterattack was made up of only 38,000 men.[3]

            By day break, the northern region of Korea troops had already started firing from six points. Soon, the North Korean soldiers began to pour southwards in thousands. Some of the troops settled at the east coast of South Korea. It had happened so fast that by 9:30 a.m., attackers had seized Kaesong; one of the key towns of South Korea that is located along the main railroad that leads to Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. Before noon, the YAK fighter planes had invaded the capital and Kimpo airfields and more invasions in South Korea by Northern Korea followed. [4]

            The first group of people to join in the war was the United States of America. The US sent troops to the zone of the battle from Japan a few days later after the war broke out. Well-armed and well trained soldiers from North Korea spearheaded by Russian T-34 moved southwards into South Korea and badly reduced to nothing the small force that US had provided on July 5th and forced them to withdraw. It was however too soon for them to quit.[5]

The attack did not catch South Korea by surprise or the United States who were the sponsor. Signs could tell that there could be an invasion and the top officials of South Korea had warned the nation. However, the South was caught off guard as many military leaders had gone abroad to Japan or the United States of America. Other officers who kept the boarders in watch had gone for their weekend passes. This lack of preparation made it easy for North Korean invasion. [6]

            The Soviet was in support of Kim II-sung, the North Korean leader who used the prevailing conflict as a ground for raining his army. With the help of Moscow, the army became superior over the forces of the government that had been sponsored by the US and the UN. With the approval and aid of the Soviet Union, the forces of Kim invaded South Korea with an aim of uniting peninsula to fall under his control. On seeing this, the United States, backed by the UN, moved in with an attempt to stop him. South Korea and the US had produced 90% or more of manpower. Sixteen governments from other regions also contributed unofficially, with Japan producing laborers to the critical industries in South Korea and in peninsula’s harbors to operate the lighters, minesweepers, dredges and American Landing Ship Tanks (LSTs). Communist China sent troops in hundred of thousands. China and the US had contributed greatly in the actual fighting. Soviet on the other hand provided material assistance in large- scale to China and North Korea. US allies of the time, Canada and Great Britain, provided for the war with counterweights. The Korean War could have easily culminated into World War III.  The UN had a critical role to play in the Korean War. It was a collective security agency to prevent aggression and restrain superpowers which could have resulted to risky endeavors.[7]

The Korean War resulted into a terrible destruction. Massive numbers of indigenous people lost their lives but the political division that they had been fighting for was not resolved. This however remains a danger to date. The two superpowers (US and USSR) that were in constant combat and who might have initiated this war avoided a direct clash. The Korean War completely served as a World War III substitute.[8]

Causes of the Korean War

            The causes that gave birth to the Korean War had little or ultimately nothing to do with Korea. The United States had approached the United Nations in an attempt to resolve issues facing Korea that was divided. United Nations Commission thought that elections would heal the Korean conflict situation but the majority of North Koreans who were communists declined the idea. South Korean communists boycotted the elections. The South Korean government comprised of anti-communist Syngman Rhee. Kim II-Sung was made a leader of North Korea by the Soviet Union. The Soviet leader at the time, Joseph Stalin gave the leader of North Korea, Kim, a green light to invade South Korea during the 1950 spring. Stalin did this to serve his own interests in regard to Europe and China. The US with a UN’s back-up intervened.[9]

             The Chinese people entered into the war for reasons better known to them. Their aim was to make North Korea a buffer on which they could protect themselves from possible invasion by the US. The root of the Korean conflict started with the United States and the Soviet Union. It was the desire of United States to stop communism spread but the Soviet Union was not ready for this; they believed in communism and wanted to spread it all around the world. Fortunately, on the 27th July of 1953, armistice (temporary cease-fire; not peace treaty) ended the Korean War. The two conflicting sides realized that neither of the parties had the means or will power to make their opposition side submit to the political agendas that they wanted. Despite the end of the war, conflicts have remained for more than half a century now.[10]

Effects of the Korean War

            The impact of the war was global despite the fact that it was limited in the geographical scope. Washington had assumed that Moscow had taken an aggressive move which posed a threat to the US. Western Europe had ganged up with the US to resist the aggression and intervened before a major war could break. They did know however that they were putting pressure to a war that would leave adverse effects. [11]

            After the Korean peninsula somehow stabilized, the two sides started negotiations to establish a truce that would be accepted by each side. The negotiations started in the month of July 1951 but lasted for two more years. Because of the effects that were as result of the war, each side wanted the war stopped. The effects were not only felt locally but also globally. To start with, mass casualties resulted from the two fighting sides despite the fact that the exact figure is not known. Families still had been torn apart from their beloved ones who either died or fled to cross borders for their dear lives.[12]

            The US in particular suffered greatly. In estimation, more than 54,000 US soldiers lost their lives not to mention others from various regions. This was because the US soldiers had difficulty in distinguishing Koreans who were their enemies and those who were allies. The US troops were therefore killed by both the enemy and the ally. They could expose themselves to the enemy thinking that they were the ally. Masses and masses of the fighting troops from all sides were severely injured and were left with permanent marks of the devastating Korean War. [13]

            The Korean War had hurt the administration of Truman. During the peace negotiations, the short comings that the Truman administration had were exposed and many of the Americans recognized this. Some of the Chinese POWs had refused to go back to China and this delayed the negotiations. As a result, Truman’s administration was left in another war against the communism. The citizens of the United States confirmed their belief that agencies of intelligence failed in the performance of their duty that had been to produce desirable war objectives. The blind attack against North Korea was an intelligence failure as well as that of the American leadership. Everyone in Washington blamed Truman who had hoped to win congressional elections before the war of the 1950 broke out.[14]

            The Korean War had placed the UN at an international watch. The War made United Nations an institution that was legitimate in keeping peace and order in the community throughout the international realm. The United Nations provided a link that was non-violent between member countries. During the Korean War, UN acted as the mediator in the peace talks. They thus became a formal agency through which international discrepancies and disagreements are handled. To the present, the United Nations has been a mediator in the regions that enter into disagreement all around the world. It has been involved in many peace keeping missions. The role that the UN has in the world started with the Korean War.[15]

            The war accelerated the conflict that existed between the Soviet Union and the United States of America over the issue of communism. To the present, the US and the USSR (now Russia) are not in very good terms. More still, the Korean War led to enmity between China and US that lasted for several decades. Because of fear that the US had on communism, it made arbitration in Vietnam in an effort to abolish another possibility of North Korean War. From the time of war, South Korea became a base that was permanent for the American military. Despite the fact that armistice had brought the Korean War to an end, the two sides in Korea live in readiness of an actual war. The two sides have a wide economic gap. South Korea is technologically and economically progressed but North Korea remains poor with intense military. The numerous nuclear and missile tests by North Korea is a sign of danger to both South Korea and Japan. On 4th October 2007, leaders from the two countries signed a total of eight peace agreements directed towards building peace, renewal of highways, economic cooperation as well as cooperation in train and travel services. Despite all these efforts by the two principals, unification of South and North Korea remains a dream that is far from being realized.[16]


            The Korean War began as a normal conflict between two opposing sides that wanted to impose their political beliefs on each other; its effects were however far reaching. It was an American-Soviet War and had little to do with Korea. Soviet who were communists wanted to influence other nations such as Korea. The US on the other hand was anti-communist and run to rescue Korea. The war broke out and though it lasted for a short period of 3 years, the resulting effects cannot be forgotten especially where lives were sacrificed. The Korean War started with the two nations of Korea but ended up including other nations from continents. It almost culminated into the World War III.


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Korean War Educator. “A Brief History of the Korean War,” Korean War Educator. (accessed July 22, 2010).

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Prabhakar Pillai. “Causes and Effects of Korean War.” Buzzle. (accessed July 22, 2010).

Stueck, William. The Korean War: An International History. New Jersey: Princeton

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Tripod. “The Korean War: Effects of the War.”

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[1] Prabhakar, Pillai, “Causes and Effects of Korean War”, Buzzle, (accessed July 22, 2010).
[2] William Stueck, The Korean War: An International History, (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1995), V
[3] MultiEducator, “The Korean War: The Invasion,” History Central, (accessed July 22, 2010).
[4] William Stueck, The Korean War: an International History (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2005), 10.
[5] Korean War Educator, “A Brief History of the Korean War,” Korean War Educator, (accessed July 22, 2010).

[6] William Stueck, The Korean War: an International History,  (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1995),  10
[7] William Stueck, The Korean War: an International History,  (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1995),  v-vi
[8] William Stueck, The Korean War: an International History,  (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1995),  V
[9] Prabhakar Pillai, “Causes and Effects of Korean War,” Buzzle, (accessed July 22, 2010).

[10] Prabhakar Pillai, “Causes and effects of Korean War,” Buzzle, (accessed July 22, 2010).
[11] Stueck, William, The Korean War: an International History, (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1995), v-vi
[12] Pillai, Prabhakar, “Causes and Effects of Korean War,”
[13] Tripod, “The Korean War: Effects of the War,” (accessed July 22, 2010).
[14] Tripod, “The Korean War: Effects of the War.”
[15] Tripod, “The Korean War: Effects of the War.”
[16] Martin Kum, “Causes and Effects of Korean War,” Ezine Articles, (accessed July 22, 2010).