The Korean War

"When whales fight, the shrimps back is broken."

The above quote is a Korean proverb.


Knowing what you do about the Korean War, what do you think this quote means?

Leading up to the war

  • Japan annexed Korea in 1910, strict and brutal
  • 1910-1945 considered darkest days; Korea striped of natural resources by Japan (trees, language, media, and customs)
  • The good news: Japan made Korea very industrialized
  • Korean resistance began 1919
  • Japanese rule ended summer of 1945
  • Koreans fate decided at meet in eastern US between US and Soviet Union, no Koreans attended
  • Meeting split Korea temporarily into two states until independent and unified government established; North SU, South US
  • 1947 Cold War and the political differences lead to disagreement on one united Korea


Do you think that it was fair that Koreas fate was decided by people who knew nothing about them? Why or why not?

The War

  • June 25, 1950 North Korea invaded with 75,000 troops South Korea, attempting to unite the Koreas by force
  • Pushed the South almost to the tip of the peninsula, the South (UK and US) responded by pushing the North almost to the Chinese Border
  • Chinese put 250,000 troops in North Korea in only a few nights
  • Heavy fighting in freezing weather, caused South to be pushed back down below the 28th parallel
  • Northern army was well trained, disciplined, and equipped. Southern army was scared, confused, and easily fled
  • Fronts didnt move from 38th parallel, many died for no gain
  • July 1951 everyone wants peace, however war continues as negotiations are trying to be made. North wants to kill their prisoners of war, while South does not
  • made war last two more years, finally ends on July 27, 1953
  • 38th parallel once again divides North and South Korea with a 2 mile wide demilitarized zone in the middle
  • Nearly 5 million died for nothing, 10% of who where civilians (more than Vietnam)


Why didnt the war end two years earlyer? Do you think it was a good decision? Why or why not?

The Effects Today

  • War never really ended, still a lot of tension
  • North Koreas long outdated weapons make war unlikely
  • North Korea outnumbers South Korea in troops, but has old weaponry
  • Regular, daily displays of military strength
  • Lots of threats, little action
  • As unlikely as it is, if war were to break out, could start ww3