History is dotted with wars that changed the course for countries. The map altering World War-II that lasted from 1939-1945 ended with the Axis power losing to the Allies. This in turn resulted in US and USSR dismantling Japan’s empire that included the East Asian peninsula, Korea. What must be remembered is that by now, both superpowers were on the verge of Cold War which made occupation of Korea a game changing strategy in establishing the ultimate power.
The 38th parallel, the latitude that passes through Korea was used for dividing the nation into two. While the northern part of the peninsula would be established as a socialist country under Kim-II Sung, the southern part of the peninsula would be a capitalist state under Syngman Rhee. North Korea was supported by the USSR while US established it’s power and control over South Korea.
What could have been a beautiful journey of brotherhood and accumulated power in East Asia, took a bitter turn in 1950 when North Korea attacked South Korea. The ‘forgotten war’ that took place from 1950 to 1953 happened to the first and very milestone in the long Cold War between the Communist and Capitalist power in their struggle to become the superpower.
Only the Congress has the authority to declare war but the then president of US, Harry Truman without consulting the Congress sent troops to South Korea. On being questioned, Truman said US is not at war. South Korea being perturbed by neighboring country and US sending troops as ‘police action’ is what happened. But this was just the beginning of a long history of US intervening in a foreign conflict.
COURSE OF THE KOREAN WAR AND CASULTIES ENSUED.
While US were hoping the war would quickly end, it did not work out favorably for the Capitalist power. Neighboring China assisted North Korea with more than 3 million soldiers while USSR trained these troops and supplied with weapons.
With time the casualties mounted and by June 1951, the situation was worsened enough to force talks of peace treaties. The way to peace between the countries was decided to be repatriation. Prisoners of the War as captured by both the countries were decided to be returned, to maintain peace and sign the treaty. Before the truce around 75,000 POWs were returned by South Korea, 22,000 of them defected to asylums as they did not want to return to their country.
For the capitalist states, the casualties stood at 40,000 for the US and 46,000 for South Korea. as for North Korea estimated 215,000 troops were killed along with 400,000 Chinese soldiers. As many as 4 million civilians were suspected killed in the Korean War.
SIGNING OF PEACE TREATY
27th July of 1953 brought with it the signing of armistice. While China, North Korea and the US signed the treaty, South Korea refused to sign the treaty and protested against the continued division between the two Korean nations. With the cessation of the fighting, the discussion regarding unification of the two nations died away.
The history of this beautiful nation must not be forgotten as it holds up a disastrous picture of civil war. It also draws attention to the first of the US’s several interventions in foreign matters. Later on US intervened in Vietnam War, Afghanistan and Iraq too.
Banaras Hindu University
2nd Year, English hons.
Mohona is an avid reader and equality seeker. She takes a keen interest in painting and finds solace among books, coffee, nature and dogs.