The Korean War

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

The above quote is a Korean proverb.

Question:

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

Question:

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)

Question:

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  • North Koreas long outdated weapons make war unlikely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