Korean War

AuthorJeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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The KOREAN WAR was a conflict fought on the Korean Peninsula from June 1950 to July 1953. Initially the war was between South Korea (Republic of Korea) and North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), but it soon developed into an international war involving the United States and 19 other nations. The United States sent troops to South Korea as part of a UNITED NATIONS "police action," which sought to repel the Communist aggression of North Korea. Before the war ended in a stalemate, the People's Republic of China had intervened militarily on the side of North Korea, and the Soviet Union had supplied military equipment to the North.

At the end of WORLD WAR II, in 1945, the Soviet Union occupied the Korean Peninsula north of the thirty-eighth degree of latitude, while the U.S. occupied the territory south of it. In 1947, after the United States and the Soviet Union failed to negotiate a reunification of the two separate Korean states, the United States asked the U.N. to solve the problem. The Soviet Union, however, refused a U.N. proposal for a

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general election in the two Koreas to resolve the issue and encouraged the establishment of a Communist regime under the leadership of Kim Il-sung. South Korea then established a democratic government under the leadership of Syngman Rhee. By 1949, most Soviet and U.S. troops had been withdrawn from the Korean Peninsula.

On June 25, 1950, North Korea, with the tacit approval of the Soviet Union, launched an attack across the thirty-eighth parallel. The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution calling for the assistance of all U.N. members to stop the invasion. Normally, the Soviet Union would have vetoed this resolution, but it was boycotting the Security Council in protest of the U.N.'s decision not to admit the People's Republic of China.

Sixteen nations joined the U.N. forces, including the United States. President HARRY S. TRUMAN immediately responded by ordering U.S. forces to assist South Korea. Truman did so without a declaration of war, which until that time had been a prerequisite for U.S. military involvement overseas. Though some Americans criticized Truman for this decision, generally the country supported his action as part of his strategy of "containment," which sought to prevent the spread of COMMUNISM beyond its current borders. Korea became the TEST CASE for containment.

The North Korean forces crushed the South...

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