The Cold War heats up If you have ever watched the television series

Download 21.02 Kb.
Size21.02 Kb.

Module 2

The Cold War heats up

If you have ever watched the television series, M*A*S*H, you will have noticed that it’s set in the Korean War. It was the first major conflict in the Cold War era and also saw Australia's first large commitment of troops since World War II.

In this lesson, you find about Australia's involvement in the Korean War.

What were the origins of the Korean war?

Japanese forces had occupied Korea, often brutally, from 1910 to 1945. After World War II and the defeat of the Japanese, Korea was a devastated country.

To assist the re-building of Korea it was divided into two sections. The southern part of Korea was controlled by the USA while the Soviet Union controlled the northern half.

There was soon disagreement about the future of Korea. The Americans wanted the whole country run along capitalist lines while the Soviets, and the neighbouring Chinese, wanted to implement communism. Hostility was also quickly increasing between the two Koreas themselves.

The dispute was referred to the United Nations (UN), an organisation formed in 1945. The UN’s efforts to reach a peaceful solution failed, as North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950.

In response to this invasion 23 members of the UN, headed by the USA, formed a miliary alliance. Its aim was to drive North Korea back across the 38th parallel. This had been the dividing line between North and South Korea.

Australia commits to Korea

Australia was one of the first countries to join the alliance of UN countries. Australia had many reasons for wanting to send troops to the Korean War.

Go to the following link


‘Australia commits to Korea’. Read the first three paragraphs of text.

Despite World War II ending only five years earlier there was good support for the decision to go to war in 1950. Both sides of politics and many sections of society agreed with this decision.


Activity 5

List four reasons for Australia’s involvement in the Korean War.


Check your responses by going to the suggested answers section.

The enthusiasm of Prime Minister Robert Menzies’ government to support the United States was to be repeated in Vietnam and on many other occasions in the following decades. Military support for the USA is still a major part of Australia’s foreign policy today.

Most Australians experienced little change to their normal lives as a result of the war in Korea. There were none of the restrictions like those during World War II.

map of battles


Stalemate is a term used in the game of chess. It describes a contest where neither side can win nor can they take any further worthwhile action. After a series of major offensives in the first year of the war, it is a term that described the course of the Korean War.

While South Korea had the support of the United Nations forces, North Korea had an important ally as well. You would have seen in the maps that they benefited from a huge commitment by China. Remember China, like Russia, was a strong supporter of communism.

Tough conditions

The two-year stalemate in the fighting and peace negotiations of the Korean War was bad enough. The harsh terrain and weather conditions for the soldiers in Korea made the experience a lot worse. If the troops weren’t sweltering in oppressively hot weather, they were freezing in below-zero winters. Peace at last

After more than three years of fighting, the Korean War finally ended. The armistice was signed on 27 July 1953. Korea has been described as one of the bloodiest wars of the twentieth century. It had also been fought in some of the most severe weather conditions ever seen.awm p01813.744

Hill 614 area, February 1951. A group of soldiers from C Company, 3 RAR, haul a wounded comrade, injured in both legs, on a stretcher.P01813.74

Armistice and Aftermath

Click on the following link web_work

‘Armistice and Aftermath’. Read the first four paragraphs of text that summarise the end of the war and its terrible cost in human lives. You may also want to look at the two movies on this page. They show the return of Australian troops to Brisbane and Sydney and the warm welcome home they received.


Activity 9

Answer these short questions based on the ‘Armistice and Aftermath’ page.

1 Which countries had the most people killed?

2 How many Australian soldiers died and how many were wounded?

3 From which country did most of the UN casualties come?

4 What do the numbers of dead and wounded tell you about the conflict?

5 What was the result of the Korean War?


Check your responses by going to the suggested answers section.

awm jk0359

Graves of Australian servicemen who were killed in action in Korea at the
United Nations Military Cemetery at Pusan.JK0359

After the huge loss of life, probably the saddest part of the war in Korea was the inconclusive nature of the result. It highlighted the pointlessness of the three bloody years of fighting.

Indeed, not a lot had changed by the end of the twentieth century. North Korea was still communist while South Korea had a growing capitalist economy. Both countries still received support from China and the USA respectively. And significantly, there was still tension and hostility between the two Koreas.

Part 1 The Red threat

Download 21.02 Kb.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright © 2023
send message

    Main page