1. Explain why the Korean War or the background to the Korean War was really a Cold War conflict



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1. Explain why the Korean War or the background to the Korean War was really a Cold War conflict.

The Cold War was a war between the Soviet Union and the United States. The Korean war has been called a Cold War conflict for many reasons. The fighting between North and South Korea was not just fought between North and South Korea; other countries were involved, such as, the Philippines, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and many other Western European countries. North Korea was backed by the Soviet Union and South Korea was backed by the United States; thus created another Cold War conflict. June 25th, 1950, approximately 75,000 North Koreans went across the 38th parallel, the dividing line between North and South Korea, and began to fight. This was known as one of the first military actions of the Cold War. (1)

North Korea was known as the North Korean People’s Army, NKPA and South Korea was known as the Republic of Korea, ROK. (2) On June 27, the United States persuaded the United Nations to create a resolution to support South Korea. American soldiers were also sent to Korea to support South Korea at the battle of Pusan. (3) The North Koreans went after the South because they knew that they were not well trained and that they did not have a wide variety of weapons to win the fight. Within 48 hours of fighting, the South Korean army surrendered. (4)

This war remained a “Cold War” conflict because both the Soviet Union and the United States wanted to destroy each other but they did not let it get out of hand and go into actual fighting. They fought the war through other people and avoided direct-armed conflict, keeping the war from expanding. (5) Stalin wanted to get communism to expand as far as he could but he did not want to start a full-fledged war between the USSR and the USA so he got involved with the Korean War. The Soviet Union and the United States were able to fight without fighting each other, directly. They both did not want to get into a “hot” war. (6)

On March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill gave a speech that was thought, by Stalin, to be a declaration of war. He said that Eastern Europe was cut off by the iron curtain and the Soviets would influence it. The United States were trying to defend themselves and get freedom from Stalin’s Communist aggression. They were rivals in a competition for world domination. (5)

Harry Truman did not want communism to spread any more than it already had so he decided to help South Korea during this war. From the Domino Theory, he figured that if Korea would fall to Communism then Japan could ultimately do the same thing and he did not want that to happen. (6) The Korean War was a Cold War conflict because it was fought by the same two countries that fought in the Cold War; they were just fighting underneath another country so they did not have to go to war with one another, again.




  1. History. (2013, Feb 4). Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/korean-war

  2. Chepesiuk, R. (2010). The coalition. Retrieved from http://www.koreanwar60.com/coalition

  3. Clare, J. D. (2010). Greenfield history site. Retrieved from http://www.johndclare.net/cold_war10.htm

  4. The korean war: The ongoing conflict. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.sumtercountymuseum.org/exhibits/korea/history.htm

  5. Clare, J. D. (2010, December 20). Cold war. Retrieved from http://www.johndclare.net/Basics_ColdWar.htm

  6. Clare, J.D. (2010). Korean War. Retrieved from http://www.johndclare.net/EC5.htm

2. In your opinion who provoked the Korean War? Meaning who was really at the root of it? Back up your answer with detail.

Every war has an instigator. The Korean War is open to many unanswered questions. The one who provoked the Korean War was North Korea with the help of the Soviet Union. They provoked the war by going across the 38th parallel and instigating a fight. MacArthur’s infantry element, Task Force Smith, devised plans in order to “get back” at North Korea and their attacks. North Korea also invaded two main axes, along with the 38th parallel. Task Force Smith went out and fought in different areas where the North Korean Army had already been instigating an attack. They invaded the Charwan-Uijonngbu-Seoul axis on July 5, 1950. Invaders had been using that valley for centuries because it was a very popular one. The second main group was down a highway along the coastal borders. This highway was called Seoul-Pusan and it was the main one in Korea. The Seoul-Pusan highway crossed over the Kum River Line. (7)

The North Koreans provoked this war because wherever Task Force Smith went was because of North Korea. The South Korean Army did not do it just because they wanted too. South Koreans did not provoke the war because they were outnumbered by 5 to 1 and did not have any heavy weaponry to defend them. The Monday after the North Koreans attack on South Korea was when the North Koreans could not be stopped. The blowing up of the bridges over the Han River really put South Korea over the edge.

The Han River was north of Seoul. North Korea had planned to do so for a while, but they just so happened to do it a little too soon. They had battalions set up on both sides of the river and bridges, north and south of P’yongtaek, so they were ready for it for a while. They blew up the bridge as the South Koreans were still crossing it. While some North Koreans were ready to blow up bridges over the Han River, other North Korean Army members were provoking the battle of Osan. (7) This eliminated any chance for the South Koreans to have any chance to fight back and ultimately win. (8)

The North Korean Army provoked the Korean War because they were ready for many different battles and invasions all at one time. They had it planned out ahead of time. The North Korean Army also provoked this war because now, as of 1995, the North Korea army is deteriorating. International food aid is the only thing keeping the complete North Korean population from starving. In contrast, South Korea is one of the strongest of Asia and is very prosperous. (4)


  1. Evanhoe, E. (2002, November). Withdrawal to the pusan perimeter. Retrieved from http://www.korean-war.com/TimeLine/1950/06-25to08-03-50.html

  2. History Central. (2005). History central. Retrieved from http://www.historycentral.com/korea/causes.html

3. How did the UN legitimize itself during the Korean War?

Within the Korean War, many things helped legitimize the United Nations. During the Korean War, the decision to use military force to help fight the battle was one way the United Nations legitimized itself. (1) By the use of military action, it helped expand Soviet military force and helped advance the United States decision to increase their weapons to help fight the Korean War. This decision, by the NSC-68, was a way to make South Korea an independent nation. The NSC-68 was put into action on April of 1950. The first Cold War conflict that the UN decided to get involved with and put military force into it was the Korean War. (1)

The UN Security Council, on July 3, 1950, passed a resolution that established command under the US that solidified the role of the United Nations in the Korean War. (2) The United Nations gave many military contributions to the US and South Korea to help defend the Republic of Korea and win the Korean War. (2)

Another thing that legitimized the UN was that they thought the war would be quick after China entered it in September, but they finally realized that it would not be. They found out, very quickly, that it would be long and they would have to maintain and operate a coalition. This legitimized them because it should everyone else that they were able to do it, no matter how difficult it could be. (2)

If the United Nations did not deal with such a complicated issue, such as the Korean War, they would lose all of the credibility that they had received. (9) Legitimization also came with all of the support the United Nations got. By taking such intense action to calm a war, the UN got a lot of credit and support, because they decided to take action and put military force into the Korean War. (2) With the military force being used during the war, this led to military expansion everywhere.

The UN was legitimized because of the expansion. The military expansion happened everywhere in the war and helped with the legitimization. The Korean War and the legitimization of the United Nations led to the anti-communism spread across the countries as well. The United Nations was legitimized because they were involved in a war and helped to contain it and stop it.



  1. History. (2013, Feb 4). Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/korean-war

  2. Chepesiuk, R. (2010). The coalition. Retrieved from http://www.koreanwar60.com/coalition

  1. Trueman, C. (2011). http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/united_nations_korean_war.htm. Retrieved from http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/united_nations_korean_war.htm

4. In your opinion WHY did the Korean conflict NOT lead to a world war?

Many feared that the Korean War would turn into the next world war. The Korean Conflict did not turn into a world war because it was contained to Korea. Although other countries got involved with the conflict, it never spread to any other country. The Chinese and Soviet Union, allies of North Korea, and the United States, allies with South Korea, were very cautious in not letting the war spread to any other country or area. Even though they were fighting a war, they made sure that it did not get out of control. It also did end up staying in the Korean peninsula.

A world war has many major countries fighting it. Major nations were not fighting in this conflict. Yes, the Soviet Union and the United States are major but the war was being fought in a very small area, Korea, it was not big enough to be considered a world war. (10)

Public involvement is also a key part in a war becoming a world war. The public did not really know much of what was happening during the Korean Conflict.

There were so many names to this conflict; no one really knew much about it. To pass the United States involvement, Truman called this “war” a Police Action. The South called it 6-25. It was then called the Korean War. The North called it Fatherland Liberation War. China called it The War to Resist America and Aid Korea. With all of the names that this conflict had, how could one person remember them all to know what the media was talking about? (10)

The Korean War was called the Forgotten War because it was overshadowed by the Vietnam War because that was more recent. (11) The Korean War was called a Police Action or Korean Conflict because technically, war was never declared for it to be called an actual war. The South called the Korean Conflict 6-25 because that is when the first North Korean invasion on South Korea happened. The North called it the Fatherland Liberation War because they thought everyone would come together and bring peace within each other; they did not think communism would be the result. (11) China called the Korean War the War to Resist America and Aid Korea because they opposed America and their anti-communist views. With the quick reaction from the United Nations to get military force, this also stopped the conflict from advancing to a world war.




  1. Kegan, R. (Apri). Retrieved from http://asias.umn.edu/assets/pdf/lecture1.pdf

  2. Naval History and Heritage Command Staff. (2012). Naval history & heritage command. Retrieved from http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/org6-7.htm

5. Why do you think that the Korean War is not viewed as a popular American War? Compare it to other American Wars and their popularity/discounted and draw conclusions as to the public perception of this conflict?

Wars are always getting the public involved. Whether they are involved because it is a very big war or because they are totally against it, the public usually has some type of incentive in the different wars that happen around the world. The Korean Conflict was one instance where the public tried to push this one aside. The number of causalities was unbelievable. Around 10,000 North and South Koreans were killed before the war began. While the war was in full force, nearly 5 million people had died.(1)

The number of causalities from the United Nations was approximately 116,000 people, 33,000 from the United States, 70,000 from South Korea, and one and a half million Chinese and Koreas were killed. The number that really made the public see this war as one that was not too please was 4 million, the number of civilians that had died. (12) Between soldiers and civilians, more civilians had died during the Korean Conflict. More civilians had died because the soldiers could not be contained any longer. They were just going after anyone because they could not recognize who was who.

The Korean War was a very bloody war, as shown by the causalities, but it was a short war as well. A common problem that lead to the death of American soldiers was that the summer during the Korean War was very hot and dry, one of the worst in the records. American soldiers ultimately were very thirsty and were forced to drink unsanitary water. The water would come from rice paddies that had been fertilized with human waste. Intestinal diseases and other illnesses caused some of the deaths.

The Korean War was also not popular because there was not much media attention during it. World War II and the Vietnam War were very well represented in the media. One of the only popular media representations of the Korean War was the famous TV show in popular culture, M*A*S*H. This show was set in a hospital in South Korea and ran from 1972 to 1983. The final episode of M*A*S*H was the most watched in television history. (1) Compared to the number of casualties of the Korean War, only 58,000 people died in the Vietnam war. (12) This also made people not like this war very much because of the difference for people who had died.

The death of people in war is one trigger that causes the war unpopular, especially when there are so many. Nevertheless, with many lives lost, it causes the attention of the public to be obtained. The number of Americans who had died during the Civil War was about 620,000. 405,399 American lives were lost during World War II. (12)


  1. History. (2013, Feb 4). Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/korean-war























  1. Shenk, R. (2013). Civil war trust. Retrieved from http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/faq/

6. Why did Stalin reject Kim’s requests in 1949? How did the changes by the end of 1949 affect Stalin’s decisions? Why did Stalin decide to support the North Korean invasion?

In order to advance in a war, you have to form some type of ally, initially Joseph Stalin did not want to side with Kim IL Sung but he eventually did. In March 1949, Kim approached Joseph Stalin and Moa Zedong, the leader of China, and wanted them to approve of the attack to South Korea. (5) Joseph Stalin was not really for this. He did not want to get involved. Stalin did not have any aggression towards South Korea planned out. He was more worried about South Korea attacking the Soviet Union.

He did not provoke Seoul; he wanted to stay away from any confrontation with South Korea. Stalin told Kim IL Sung, in March of 1949, that he was more worried about pressure growing from the opponent, South Korea, around the 38th parallel, rather than being worried about attacking South Korea. Stalin said that if South Korea attacked Pyongyang, North Korea, then they could launch their attack on the South. North Korea was getting real involved in the Moscow Accords to get them to agree with reunification of North and South Korea. (13)

After extensive preparation, Stalin decided to prepare for war and the invasion in South Korea. He also gave his opinion on how the war should be prepared in order to reduce the risks of it backfiring in any way. (13) It was not until the Soviets developed nuclear weapons and the victory of the Communists in China. The winning of Communism got Stalin’s attention because he was a Communist leader who set up communist governments in the Soviet Union. (13)

Another reason Stalin agreed to Kim’s requests was because the Soviet Union had the atom bomb, before 1949, the United States had one and the Soviet Union did not. Aggravation with the West and the establishment of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in April of 1949, (5) also put him at ease and gave him a better reason to agree with Kim IL Sung. (13)

Stalin sided with North Korea because he was not happy with America and their capabilities to win the war. He was more confident with communism and their strength to win. Stalin was interested with Communism and he did not care about the public opinion of the western countries. (13) Stalin did not think that the United States would get involved so he decided to get involved with the North Koreans. He wanted Communism to grow so he changed his mind and sided with North Korea. (6)


5.) Clare, J. D. (2010, December 20). Cold war. Retrieved from http://www.johndclare.net/Basics_ColdWar.htm

13.) Bajanov, E. (2000, June). The origins of the Korean war. Retrieved from http://www.alternativeinsight.com/Korean_War.html

6.) Clare, J.D. (2010). Korean War. Retrieved from http://www.johndclare.net/EC5.htm
7. Why do you think the United States took the North Korean invasion to the U.N. instead of acting on its own?

During this time, around 1950, the United States had a lot of stuff going on. Instead of taking the Korean War matter into their own hands, they decided to go to the United Nations. They did not have the time to establish and run a whole other government. The placed the Korean War into the hands of the United Nations. (4)

In 1947, the United Nations was already somewhat involved in Korea affairs. The UN said that elections for the government should be for the whole country. Both North and South Korea had set up their own separate states and the United Nations said that the North Korean elections were not acceptable because they were not independently observed like they should have been. (9) The United States always wanted to get as much support from the United Nations has they possibly could so they decided to take this invasion to them.

Although not all United Nation members were as anti-communist as the United States was, the US was still able to put a lot of pressure on them just because they had so much power and influence. (9) The United Nations was dominated by the United States and the US knew that they could use their power to drive the North Koreans out of South Korea. At the battle on Inchon, the UN drove the North Korean army out of South Korea and cut their army in half. (9)

If the United States did not get help from the UN they would only have participation from a few nations. The United Nation was able to get more countries to participate and give some type of supplies, such as food, materials, and medical supplies, needed during the Korean War. (2)
4.) The korean war: The ongoing conflict. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.sumtercountymuseum.org/exhibits/korea/history.htm

9.) Trueman, C. (2011). http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/united_nations_korean_war.htm. Retrieved from http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/united_nations_korean_war.htm

2.) Chepesiuk, R. (2010). The coalition. Retrieved from http://www.koreanwar60.com/coalition

8. What can you hypothesize about what might have been Western European concerns at the outset of the invasion of South Korea?

Eastern Europe was more intently involved with the whole Korean Conflict, rather than Western Europe. Just because they did not have a large part in being involved, they did have some concerns when North Korea invaded South Korea. The Western European countries had more of a reason to back the United States, not the Soviet Union. They were more concerned with the fact that if something would go bad within the invasion of South Korea that they would move toward the Western European countries.

Western Europe had feared a Soviet Invasion ever since the first Korean invasion in South Korea so Britain took the initiative to put different things into action just in case there would be a Soviet Invasion. France and the Netherlands put forces into the Korean War and the rest of Europe was continuing to put support into this war to try to prevent a Soviet Invasion. (14)

The Western European countries sided with the United States because the US created the Western bloc that had Britain, Canada, France, West Germany, Japan, the Philippines, and other Latin American and Western European countries. This bloc held similar interests in the Korean Conflict and were all working together to prevent the Soviet invasion in Western Europe. (15)

Although Western Europe feared an attack by the Soviet Union if the war got out of hand in Korea, they were very generous to help during the Korean war. They sent troops to help fight. Britain was also ready to help, but not at the onset of the invasion. It took Britain a little while to get involved but they finally made their involvement part of their agenda during the Korean War. (16)
14.) Binder, D. (1990, November 17). Evolution in europe. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1990/11/17/world/evolution-in-europe-agents-explain-why-cia-planned-for-a-resistance-in-europe.html

15.) Kaufman, B. I. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://thehistoryprofessor.us/bin/histprof/misc/coldwar.html

16.) Norton-Taylor, R. (24/0). theguardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jun/25/british-reaction-korean-war

9. Why do you think the USA decided to intervene in Korea when it did not intervene in China’s revolution? What’s the major difference?

During China’s revolution, China had many people involved and Korea did not. The United States did not intervene in the revolution of China because China was communist. The USA was doing everything possible to isolate them. The United States would not recognize Communism during this time; they were against it and wanted nothing to do with it. (17) The Soviet Union was backed by the Chinese, the United States was not an ally with the Soviet Union; therefore they would not intervene with the Chinese.

Mao Zedong was China’s Communist leader. If the US would have gotten involved they would not have helped because Mao was one of the most influential people in the world and the US would not have been able to back them and fix anything. Mao Zedong was all of the influence that they needed. If the US had intervened in the Chinese Revolution there would be no chance to fight. They would have just created another war that they did not need after just coming out of the Korean War.

In the case with the Korean war, there was a change to fight. They had the chance to get rid of communism in North Korea; in China they did not because they were already communist and there is no way to change that. (13) If the United States did get involved they would just be fighting a battle that they have no chance of winning because the Communism in China was excessively powerful for just the United States.

When the United States lost the monopoly of the atomic bomb, they knew that they had to get involved with the Korean War. (19) Truman wanted a capitalist government and he was willing to fight for it. They thought that America was in danger of falling to Communism so they got involved in the war. He also thought that if one country fell to communism, then they all would, The Domino Theory, and he did not want that to happen. (19)

Truman considered driving the Communist out of North Korea and was able to fight Communism, Russia, indirectly. (19) The United States intervened in the Korean War because they did not want to fall to communism. They did not intervene in China’s Revolution because China was already too powerful and would have torn them apart.

17.) Brown, J. S. (2003, Oct 3). The chinese intervention. Retrieved from http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/kw-chinter/chinter.htm

13.) Bajanov, E. (2000, June). The origins of the korean war. Retrieved from http://www.alternativeinsight.com/Korean_War.html

19.) Esley, G. M. (2012). Teaching with documents: The united states enters the Korean conflict. In The U.S. National Archives and Records Administrat. Retrieved from http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/korean-conflict/

10. In your opinion was the Korean War an international war or a civil war? Explain your reasoning.

A civil war is a war between parties in the same nation. (20) An international war is a war concerning to the affairs of other nations, not your own. (21) The Korean Conflict was an international war. This was an international war because many thought that this would turn out to be a communist campaign to take over the world.

The Korean War was not a civil war because it was more of a fight between good and evil, not just two different parties in the same nation. Yes, the war was a fight between communism and not communism; it was more of a global struggle. Many countries were fighting in order to get rid of communism. They did not want to fall to the domino theory, when one country falls, they all go together. Korea was not the only country battling communism, many other countries were as well. The Soviet Union, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States were all countries who were involved in the Korean Conflict. (1)

All of these countries show that this war was not fought between two nations. North Korea had countries backing it as did South Korea but each country was fighting to get what they wanted out of the war, some wanted communism, some did not. (1)



20.) Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/civil war?s=t

21.) Heritage, A. (2012). International. Retrieved from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/international

1.) History. (2013, Feb 4). Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/korean-war


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