The Korean War was fought in Korean Peninsula between armies from North and those from South Korea. The war began in the wake of June 25, 1950 at 4:30 AM and fighting proceeded until July 27, 1953. It is estimated that two million Koreans perished, majority of who were northerners. There was blame from both sides as to who might have started the war. The north, having been led by communist Kim Il-Sung, got help mostly from People’s Republic of China, and the USSR.
The south, led by nationalist Syngman Rhee, got support from many countries in the United Nations, and especially the United States. The war ended with a truce and with devastating consequences. Even now in the 21st Century, South Korea and North Korea are still officially and technically at war and United States still keeps troops in South Korea in case North Korea ever invades again. North and South Korea are separated by the 38th parallel.
Causes of the Korean War
As for any war, its root causes can always be classified as tangible and intangible. The Korean War had both of these elements. The only and main cause of the Korean War was the invasion of South Korea by North Korea in 1950. The annexation of the Korean peninsula in the early 1910 by Japan was also a possible cause because they might have developed some sections of Korea leaving other sections marginalized.
After World War II ended, American and British forces set up a pro-Western country in the southern part of the peninsula while the Soviet Union set up a Communist government in the north (Hunt 35). The war, then, as can be construed was an attempt to use force to unify the entire peninsula under Communist rule.
The Cold War was an important cause in the Korean War to be ignored when intangible causes are discussed. Relationship between the United States and the USSR had badly been damaged after the war. China joined Communism in October 1949. The President of the United States of America, Harry Truman, was very worried that other countries around China might also become Communist, such as Japan (Hunt 55).
Thus in trying to maintain reputation, Truman spent a lot of money to make the American Army much bigger and Americans wanted to see this new powerful Army in action. Joseph Stalin‘s people also wanted to see Stalin get better results in his conquests for popularization of communism. Stalin had just lost the fight for the Berlin Wall and wanted another chance to prove that he could beat United States; the Korean War was his chance and opportunity.
How it epitomized Cold War
The Korean War can be judged to have epitomized the cold war in very many aspects. The cold war was characterized by war of words and propaganda, economic sanctions and supremacy, the arms race and nuclear proliferation, space race and exploration. Even though the United States rejected MacArthur’s suggestion for use of nuclear weapons against Chinese troops, the North has been struggling to adopt the technology to possibly use it to disturb neighbors (Hunt 75).
The emergence of South Korea as an economic power perhaps indicates that capitalism is far more superior to communism which has left the North in a mismanaged economic wasteland. The solidification of the political policy of containment which made United States to invade Vietnam is also testimony.
Hunt, Michael. The World Transformed: 1945 to the Present. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. Print.