The Korean War

By: Grace Settles and Nick Shaff

What caused the war?

In June 1950, the North Koreans invaded South Korea and took over the capital, Seoul, in just 3 days. This marked the start of the war. The underlying cause of the Korean War was communism. It began as a civil war between North and South Korea. Soon after, it became an international conflict.

Effects/Human Toll

The war left Korea divided and brought the Cold War to Asia.

Breakdown by Country:

1. Korea

Gains: None

Losses: Casualties : dead and wounded : 1.3 million South Korean military;

520,000 North Korean military;

Over 3 million civilian casualties. Much industry destroyed, agriculture ruined, millions of refugees

2. UN

Gains: Gained respect by taking prompt and direct action. Used combined force to stop aggression. Achieved joint action by members.

Losses: 17,000 casualties; conduct of war almost entirely by USA and UN could have been seen as a USA puppet.

3. USA

Gains: Saved South Korea from communism. Containment policy seen to work against Asian communism

Losses: 142,000 casualties. Defence spending went up from 12 to 60 billion dollars and failed to liberate North Korea.

4. Russia

Gains: Achieved closer friendship with China. Conflict between China and USA was to Russia’s advantage.

Losses: Forced into an expensive arms race with America.

5. China

Gains: Gained the respect of Asian communism. Saved North Korea from America. Kept a crucial buffer state on the eastern frontier. Achieved closer friendship with Russia

Losses: 900,000 casualties.

Cost of the war was immense for a poor country. Failed to win South Korea for communism. Increased American protection for Taiwan (Formosa). Isolated by America in trade and politics.

Between 3.5 and 4 million civilians were killed.

Battle of the Pusan Perimeter

This was a long military battle between the United Nations forces and North Korea. It lasted from August 4 to September 16, 1950. This battle took place near the southern tip of South Korea, Pusan. This battle effectively ended the North Korean invasion of South Korea. This area was the farthest the North Korean invasion would advance.

General Matthew B. Ridgway

His most distinguished service came during the Korean War. He became the commander of the 8th army in 1950. By 1951, he was promoted to full general and commanded all United Nations' forces in Korea. His troops fought Chinese and North Korean forces to a standstill at the 38th parallel, which still marks the present day border between North and South Korea. Military historians credit him not only with boosting the broken morale of the 8th Army, but also with transforming the entire United Nations war effort.