The Korean War (25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953) was a war between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Korean War was primarily the result of the political division of Korea by an agreement of the victorious Allies at the conclusion of the Pacific War at the end of World War II.
U.S. efforts to save South Korea from communist invasion accelerated Department of State attempts to restore Japan to a respected international position and make that country a prosperous ally of the United States. Negotiated primarily by John Foster Dulles in 1950 and 1951, the Treaty of San Francisco ended the state of war between Japan and 47 of the Allies (most nations allied with the Soviet Union refused to sign), concluded the American Occupation and excused the Japanese from reparations for the war.
In October 1951, the all-black 24th Infantry Regiment, a unit established in 1869, which had served during the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and the beginning of the Korean War, was disbanded, essentially ending segregation in the U.S. Army. In the last two years of the Korean War throughout the services, hundreds of blacks held command positions, were posted to elite units such as combat aviation and served in a variety of technical military specialties. Additionally, more blacks than may have done so in a segregated military, chose to stay in the armed forces after the war because of the improved social environment, financial benefits, educational opportunities and promotion potential.
The cease-fire was signed on July 27, 1953, and has never been replaced by a formal peace treaty. It set up a 4-kilometer demilitarized zone along the 38th parallel. It was signed by North Korean and Chinese military leaders on one side, and by the U.S.-led United Nations command on the other. No South Korean representatives signed the agreement, which was always intended as a temporary measure.
The CIA judged that the "Soviet rulers, in directing or sanctioning the Chinese Communist intervention,... must have appreciated the increased risk of global war and have felt ready to accept such a development... They have resolved to pursue aggressively their world- wide attack on the power position of the United States and its allies, regardless of the possibility that global war may result" (FRUS, 1950, VII:1309-1310; also see 1190)
A war of rapid movement was replaced by one of night patrols in no-mans-land and set-piece offensives launched from trenches across enemy minefields and barbed wire with massive artillery support. Like WWI and WWII the war on land became an artillery war – artillery inflicted most of the casualties and without its support there was no prospect of storming the strong trench systems both sides constructed.
An airstrike on Hill 227, Korea during 1952. [AWM 044757] ... Enlarge the photo of the airstrike
While neither the United Nations Command (UNC) nor the communists now aspired to total victory, there was still a point in seizing vital ground to influence the ceasefire negotiations
"If you had looked at a situation map at the end of December, 1950, you would have seen little blue dots all over the peninsula, little isolated U.N. positions -- no sign of coherence or integrity. He shook all that out. He reformed a line across the peninsula from one coast to the other, and then he began a deliberate, buttoned-up offensive a step at a time: good artillery support, good air support, identify your objectives and take them." Ridgway's offensive, known as the "meatgrinder" because of the heavy casualties it inflicted on the Chinese and North Koreans, moved slowly north until the U.N. had recaptured Seoul and reached the 38th parallel.
The Chinese hesitated to intervene in the Korean War until after the Inchon Landing. Party officials, led by Mao Zedong, agonized over the decisions, finally agreeing on October 2nd to act. Difficulties in mobilizing the troops and a further halt when the Russian reneged on their agreement to provide air support, delayed the entry of Chinese troops until October 20th.
The initial Chinese plan was to move into Korea, develop a defensive base in the central mountain region of North Korea, and hold a line across the peninsula from Chongju to Hamhung. The Chinese planned to hold that line through the winter while the Russians re-equipped the Chinese army with modern weapons and equipment. Then, in the spring, re-trained and equipped with modern weapons, they planned to launch and offensive that would drive all UN forces from Korea.
By the 20th of October as Chinese began to cross the river, the 8th Army had secured Pyongyang and commenced a drive north across the Chongchon River to the Yalu border.
Fifteen foreign nations other than the United States and South Korea sent combat forces to serve in the United Nations Command in Korea during the Korean War. Five noncombatant nations provided hospitals or ambulance units. Approximately 150,000 foreign servicemen fought, and foreign casualties included 3,360 killed, 11,886 wounded and 1,801 servicemen missing in action. There were 1,376 foreign prisoners of war repatriated to 12 countries in 1953.
As they grew in strength, the Allied troops along the Pusan perimeter began gaining ground, but with the luxury of being able to concentrate all of their effort against a small area, the Communists came dangerously close to forcing the Allies off the peninsula altogether. General Douglas MacArthur, Commander in Chief of the United Nations Forces, decided to open up a second front, one that would force Kim Il-Sung to split his resources and at the same time hit the army around Pusan at a weak spot. He chose to invade at Inchon, a small city on the west coast of South Korea. The invasion was scheduled for September 15, when the tides would be high enough to carry landing craft across the harbor's mud flats. Despite being informed of the invasion, Kim Il-Sung did not reinforce the city and it fell quickly with little loss to the Allies.
On June 25, 1950, Communist North Korean forces invaded South Korea, beginning a three-year war. Three days later, the South Korean capital of Seoul fell to the North Koreans. President Truman immediately ordered U.S. air and sea forces to "give the Korean government troops cover and support."
From 1945 to early 1950, Moscow’s aim was not to gain control over the
Korean peninsula. Instead, the Soviet Union sought to protect its strategic and economic
interests through the traditional Tsarist approach of maintaining a balance of power in Korea.
However, in the context of the postwar Soviet-American involvement on the peninsula, such a
balance could only be maintained by prolonging the division of the country, retaining effective
control over the northern half.
Well, there was a very odd mixture of forces happening at this time. We always have a mixture of forces happening at any given time. But in the spring, in late '49 and early '50, what was happening is, on the one hand, the U.S. had very severely demobilized after World War II. So our armed forces were very small, they were very weak, they were under-funded. They were not capable of very much, in a word.