M10406: Josephine.Zhao Siu.Janice
Embarking on our history blog, we've skewed the topic towards Korean War, mainly on these 3 aspects:
1. The leaders’ POV into these issues (US, China, USSR, Korean)
2. Rise and development of Korean War
3. Aftermath of Korean War
If you are a newcomer to this blog, please click here to go to a guide page and other background information. It might help in your understanding better.
War is finally over in Korea! Just as when General MacArthur said that we would be home by Christmas, we got attacked by the Chinese army. Ridiculous, isn’t it? But anyway fighting has slowed down these days, and no one on our side is getting any further across the border (luck for us, neither is their side advancing either), and we are all tired out already. Some of my buddies have lost there lives; may God bless them in Heaven.
Korea on both sides of the border is now in shambles. Our side gave the other a huge punch with our more advanced fighter planes and bombing the dams so that the rice fields are flooded, so they are definitely going to take a long time before they have a steady source of food. I bet the other side is also angry that there is still two Koreas instead of one, but better having only half the country under communism than the whole country under it, in my opinion.
Meanwhile over this side, the situation is just as bad. Those tiny shelters that are still standing are overcrowded with civilians. Apparently a whole lot of them actually escaped from across the border, but not everyone in their families managed to reach here safely. They all look worried and listless, and the news of the division at the 38th parallel definitely shocked them. Looking at it, I doubt they would ever get to reunite with their families, especially after hearing all the harsh things that happened to the people on the other side. Looks like Korea will permanently split, not just politically affecting the country, but also their civilians. I even feel sorry for the civilians whose families will be permanently divided.
Not to mention that the death toll keeps climbing. Sure, our side lost a lot of men, but apparently the figures of Korean casualties as released by the USSR stand at about 1million. Unbelievable. We are supposed to be here to back off the advance of communism, and then 1million people are dead and can’t see the effects of the war. But considering that the economic futures of North and South Korea are very bleak, the death toll is gonna keep climbing, though I’m waiting for the official figures to be released on our side before I comment any further.
Geez, I wish that USSR would stop it with the expansion of their power already. The death toll from this war is bad enough already, but if they decide to invade other countries, we are going to put a stop to it no matter what. Sheesh, we would have beaten them up really bad only if we are sure that they aren’t going to punch us back in the face with nukes.
I should stop moaning about the war here already. I’m helping to clear rubble from the streets. The faster South Korea gets back on their feet, the less likely chance of communism spreading from the North. (I heard that some North Korean spies attempted to cross the boarder already, won’t they ever give up?!)
Seems like this is the first half hour I've had to myself since we got here.
In a fashion, this base is like the grounds of a college except many of the buildings are identical because they are company barracks. When a person looks around, he gets the impression that it's a clean military center. Between the barracks and buildings of more importance, there are long, smooth stretches of paved drilling space. The two-story barracks are built in an H shape and contain four companies each. You can rest assured that when I say these barracks are clean, I mean just that. Two hours a day, one hour in the morning, one at night, we clean every inch of our section.
We had a Captain Inspection this morning and everything had to be perfect. I'd swear we stood at attention, rotating with parade rest, for an hour and a half. For inspection, which is every morning, we have to have our work shirt pockets buttoned and empty. Nothing is allowed in our overalls' front pockets. Also, our undershirts and hats have to be clean, and we have to be clean shaven with no side burns. For everything that isn't, a demerit is placed against our company.
We have six classes to catch each day, three in the morning, and three in the afternoon. We have already learned the Semaphore code and the 16-point manual (exercises done carrying the rifle). We do march to mess hall, wait in line for about an hour for a pretty good meal, and, after the meal can stroll back to our barracks to fix our clothes, make our bunks and get ready for inspection.
After we finish supper, we have to take shower, shave, brush our teeth, shine our high shoes (boots), wash three or four pieces of clothes, roll up a couple of articles we didn't get done earlier, clean up a section of the compartment, fix our bed, and write a letter if we have time left. Taps blows at 9:30. The rest of the time depends on our Company Commander, Saunders. If we get what he wants done in good time and get in mess line, we eat earlier and have all evening. So far he seems to be a fair guy. If he doesn't like the way we do things, he can make us march Sat[urday] and Sun[day]. And there is a Recruit C.P.O (Chief petty officer) whose name is Collier who tells us what to do about half the time. He takes over when the Commander isn't there. And there is an Assistanct Recruit C.P.O., Barnes, who takes over when the C.P.O. isn't present.
There are some Alabama, Texas and Georgia characters in our Company. I don't mind the marching, but I'm in front of some Alabama hillbilly who marches like he was chasing the cows over stones in a creek. He's always on my heels and never in step. Got to sign off for now.
Korean War Overview: Mind Map
Here are some mindmaps that would be helpful, click for the enlarged image:
Edit for the pictures:
1. "Mar-Jul 1951" change to "Mar 1951 to Jul 1953"
2. Under "Before", the branches are supposed to be "1905-1945", "End of WWII", "1948" and "1949".
INVOLVEMENT OF OTHER COUNTRIES
CRUX OF KOREAN WAR: events
"Even now, I feel guilty that I pulled the trigger."
Here is a short clip which I hope would provide you an insight of an overview about the rise and development of Korean War:
Clip is taken from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhkb0Q4pGbU
"On the other side of every mountain [was] another mountain." — Lieutenant Colonel George Russell, a battalion commander with the Twenty-third Regiment of the Second Infantry Division, describing conditions in Korea
USA Leaders General point of view of Korean War in US
The USA viewed the Korean War as part of the Soviet’s plan to threaten the “free world” by spreading communism. Hence, the US’s leaders justified its involvement in the war as an act to defend its world by confronting communism.
The USA was worried of the spread of communism in the world.
Communism had spread quickly and taken over countries in Eastern Europe, and some in the Far East
The USA feared that one by one, countries in the world will fall into communism (Domino Theory). The Soviet’s establishment of the COMINFORM, an organization that spreads communism propaganda, seemed to be the evidence of this.
The recent loss of China to the communists further pressurized the US government to be tougher on communism.
To stop the spread of communism
Although South Korea was not mentioned to be under the “protective belt” of USA, Truman did not want the fall of South Korea into the communists, as he was believed that this will led to the fall of Japan as well.
The NSC 68 report recommended the USA to confront communism or the Soviets would continue to spread communism and threaten the “free world”
The USA also viewed the war as a change in the way communism was spread. The USA communists had begun to use aggression to take over a country.
This led the USA to mistake Korea as a distraction and that the Soviets might attack from Europe. The USA hence expanded its NATO forces.
To the USA, this is too a proxy war to confront communism without having direct conflict with the USSR. Because of the Cold War, the USA was competing with USSR for world superiority.
Harry S. Truman
President during the Korean War, until the 1953 election. He was in office from April 12, 1945 to January 20, 1953.
During the Korean War, Truman decided on a roll-back policy to rid communists off the North Korea, after gaining the UN approval.
However, Truman wanted to limit the war to the Korean peninsula only, and later on, at the prewar border (the 38th parallel).
Firstly, Truman was worried that further escalation of the war might draw the USSR in. The USSR was already supplying both China and North Korea with weapons and warplanes.
Secondly, it would be too costly to defeat the North Koreans. When the Korean War broke out, USA military planners did not expect it and thus were materially and intellectually unprepared. Plus, Truman administration was facing other problems as well.
To Truman, this is too a proxy war to confront communism without having direct conflict with the USSR. Truman realized that the USA was competing with USSR for world superiority
General Douglas MacArthur
General MacArthur led the UN forces in the counterattack on North Koreans during the Korean War. His counterattack was successful after an amphibious landing at the Battle of Inchon. The North Koreans had to retreat in risk of being trapped.
However, General MacArthur had different views on how extensive the war should be with President Truman. He encouraged widening the war to hit Chinese bases in Manchuria.
MacArthur believed that communism was spreading quickly in Asia than in Europe, and that it is more important to focus on protecting Asia from communism instead of too much on Europe. He believed that if Asia falls to the communist, Europe would soon be as well.
This is a segment of a letter from MacArthur critical of President Truman's limited-war strategy:
"It seems strangely difficult for some to realize that here in Asia is where the Communist conspirators have elected to make their play for global conquest, and that we have joined the issue thus raised on the battlefield; that here we fight Europe’s war with arms while the diplomats there still fight it with words; that if we lose the war to communism in Asia the fall of Europe is inevitable, win it and Europe most probably would avoid war and yet preserve freedom. As you pointed out, we must win. There is no substitute for victory.”
A segment of a letter from MacArthur critical of President Truman's limited-war strategy
Eisenhower replaced Truman as US president on January 20, 1953
He ended the Korean War with the signing of an armistice agreement
Leaders of People’s Republic of China General point of view of Korean War in China
China viewed the war as a form of US oppression and intervention in both Korean and inter-Chinese affairs. China justified its involvement in the war as an act to fight against US imperialism and aid Korea.
China hated America because of its support to Chiang Kai-Shek’s government, the opposition of China
During the Chinese Civil War, the US supported the nationalist side by providing arms
With America’s help, Chiang Kai-Shek’s government in Taiwan had been able to with invasions from People’s Republic of China
China felt threatened by the US
The US entry into the Korean War and the transfer of the seventh US-fleet into the Taiwan Strait was view as a plan to launch a full-scale war against China
China felt even more threatened when UN troops pushed back the North Korea Army up to the Chinese-Korean border at river Yalu. China did not want a hostile Korea under US control at its border.
China was under pressure from USSR to help North Korea when North Korea was losing the war
Mao Zedong believed a war with USA in the future was unavoidable, because the USA would not accept communist China. Thus, the Chinese might as well chose the date and place of this war and let it be Korea.
Mao was also afraid that an invasion of China will have the Soviets to send troops according to the Sino-Soviet treaty
Either American or Russian troops would occupy China’s land, and Mao find both unacceptable
Mao Zedong was the Chairman of the Communist Party of China
Mao Zedong reluctantly gave Kim II Sung the approval to invade South Korea before the Korean War broke out.
Mao was afraid North Korean invasion might affect his other priorities, such as economy recovery and claiming Taiwan
However, he did not want to go against with Stalin, a recognized communist leader and whom Mao had just signed a mutual assistance agreement with
Mao Zedong made the decision to send the People's Volunteer Army into Korea when UN troops pushed back the North Korea Army up to the Chinese-Korean border at river Yalu. Mao also supervised the PVA campaigns in the Korean War.
The supreme commander of the People’s Volunteer Army during the Korean War
USSR's Leaders USSR's involvement in the war
Before North Korea’s invasion, Russia extensively armed North Korean army and air forces to help North Korean take over the whole of the Korean peninsula.
Russia also helped to provide some air cover for the Chinese troops
However, as compared to China, USSR involvement was little
Leader of the Soviet Union
Stalin reluctantly gave Kim II Sung the approval to invade South Korea, after discussing with Mao Zedong.
Stalin did not want to risk war with the UgSA
However, this would affect his reputation if he did not even support a communist ally
Stalin did not want USSR to be involved much in the war however, as he did not want to be responsible for any mistakes. Thus, Stalin push this responsibility to the Chinese.
"If you should get kicked in the teeth, I shall not lift a finger. You have to ask Mao for all the help."
Stalin reportedly said to Kim in Moscow
Stalin also view this war as a proxy war to confront America without having direct conflict with the USA
Leaders of Democratic People's Republic of Korea General point of view of Korean War in North Korea
North Korea described themselves as the liberators of South Korea from the corrupt and capitalist government.
However, North Korea actual motive was to reunify Korea under communism
Kim II Sung
Leader of North Korea
Kim II Sung made the decision to invade South Korea as he believed that the USA would not intervene
The USA pulled out their troops from Korea in 1949 and did not mentioned South Korea under its “protective belt” in Asia.
Leaders of Republic of Korea General point of view of Korean War in South Korea
South Korea viewed the war as a communist invasion. The North Korean army’s brutal persecution and needless killings turned the South Koreans against the invaders.
President of South Korea during the Korea War
He was partly responsible for triggering the war as he boasted that he was going to attack North Korea, hence giving North Korea a good excuse to attack South Korea.
He was also partly responsible for the delay of war
Rhee did not want to have a ceasefire as that would leave Korea divided. He wanted to be the leader of a united Korea. Thus, he would often try to veto any peace plan.
Rhee also quarrelled for stronger methods to be used against China.
Before the war, Rhee government was already corrupted. Rhee was also very harsh on communists and left-wing sympathizers.
Rhee wanted the citizens of Seoul to remain in the city when war broke out while he escaped. His decision to cut the bridges on the Han River also prevented thousands of citizens from running away. These acts of irresponsibility damaged his reputation.