The Korean War Back In The News

he Korean War was fought about sixty years ago and resulted in an unhappy separation of North and South Korea. This war is still causing reverberations throughout the world and effecting current events. The Korean War began in June 1950 when the North Korean Army (KPA) flooded over the border separating it from the South. They pushed the South Korean Army (ROKA) and a small hastily formed contingent of the US Eighth Army steadily towards the sea. They were finally stopped in August 1950 at what came to be known as the Pusan Perimeter. The speed and success of the KPA in forcing their way south shocked the world. With strong encouragement from the US the newly formed UN became involved (UNC), with the US leading the way under WWII hero Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

In the fall of 1951 a surprising and inspiring plan devised by Gen. MacArthur was put into action. The US forces invaded at the port of Inchon near Seoul. This became the favored spot for MacArthur because of its sparse defenses. Taking back Seoul, which is the capital of South Korea, would also be a big morale boaster. The successful counter-attack pushed the North Koreans back over the border into North Korea. At this point the Chinese became involved pushing the Americans back below the 38th parallel. The Americans later counter-attacked pushing the Chinese back north of the 38th parallel. In the meantime Gen. MacArthur was becoming more publicly vocal about striking at the Chinese mainland. He wanted to blockade its ports and involve the Chinese Nationalist leader, General Chiang Kai-shek who had troops on the island of Taiwan. This did not endear MacArthur to Pres. Truman who viewed some of MacArthurs comments as insubordinate. In April of 1951 Gen. MacArthur was replaced by Gen. Ridgway.

For the next two years the war was a virtual stalemate, but involved some of the most vicious fighting. The now famous battles of Pork Chop Hill and Heartbreak Ridge took place during this time. After two years of bitter on and off again negotiations an armistice was signed in July of 1953. The result was North and South Korea being separated at the 38th parallel. This actually gave South Korea a small territory gain, although neither side was happy with the results. The devastation wrought on both sides of the war was dramatic. Millions of combatants and civilians on both sides died and the property damage was extensive. Consequently the recovery was slow and costly. The North become close with China and the South closed ranks with the US and the West.

The US lost approximately 38,000 men in the war. It was also the first hot conflict of the Cold War and the first of many proxy wars fought between the Communist and Western Super Powers. The next fifty years would be focused around the Cold War with millions being slaughtered by Communism and vast amounts of blood and National treasure being spent on both sides. Today the starved and enslaved people of North Korea offer a stark contrast to the free and prosperous people of South Korea and an illuminating look at the differences in totalitarian and free regimes.The implications and consequences of the war still echo today as North Korea has become not only nuclear but increasingly erratic in its behavior while still protected by China. Reunification between the two countries, supply of nuclear material to various groups or countries and support of terrorism are just some of the more serious issues still in play with North Korea.

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