|Date(s):||June 26, 1950 to July 27, 1953|
|Tag(s):||Cold War, The Korean War|
|Course:||“Critical Writing and Research for Historians,” University of Toronto Scarborough|
After the WWII had ended, many thought that a period of prosperity would finally arrive. However, the struggle for power and influence in Asia between the Soviet Union and the Western World led to another conflict. On June 26 1950, The North Korean Communist Party (DPRK) launched a surprise attack and crossed the 38th parallel, the border between North and South Korea. (Andrei Lankov From Stalin to Kim Il Sung: The Formation of North Korea, 1945-1960. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press 2002, 1-3. ) Until the morning of 27 June 1950, the situation strongly favored the North Korean side. The North Korean army was well prepared and swiftly penetrated the South Korean defense line. Due to the immense shock and the difference in equipments, the South Korean troops were unable to resist the invaders. They slowly retreated and attempted to regroup. The North Korean invasion was criticized by the United Nations Security Council and purposed the plan of military intervention. This proposal was passed as the Soviet Union representative, a North Korean ally who had the veto power, was absent during the discussion. The United States, as the most powerful supporter of this proposal, quickly assembled the land army stationed in Japan and they were ready to intervene, and their air forces based in Japan and Guam were also on standby and ready to reinforce. (“Korean War Summary” The Globe and Mail, June 26, 1950, Final Edition.)
Before World War II, The Korean Peninsula was annexed by Japan, and later liberated by Soviet Union in 1945. Due to the concern of balancing the power structure in East Asia, the Korean Peninsula was divided and ruled by the pro Soviet Communist Party in the North (DPRK) and the pro American Republic government in the South. (Jian Chen. China's Road to the Korean War: The Making of the Sino-American Confrontation New York: University of Columbia Press, 1997, 87.) The border between two factions was the 38th parallel line, which is almost at the center of the Korean Peninsula. Historian Chen Jian believes that the cause this war is also linked with the establishment of People's republic of China. In 1949, the Chinese Communist Party successfully defeated the Pro-America Chinese Nationalist Party and established the People’s Republic of China. “The victory of the Chinese communist strongly encourged Kim to believe that he could make the same thing happen in Korea” The success of CCP proved that communist party could overthrow the government supported by United States. With these optimistic beliefs, a conference held between Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, the CCP leader Mao Zedong and the DPRK leader Kim II Sung in 1949 to discuss the possibility of unifying Korea and to establish another communist country in East Asia. Mao and Kim had underestimated the South Korean military strength. They suggested that if the war would end swiftly, the United State’s military intervention could be avoided. They also believed, the Korean War was “An internal matter of the Korean people”, and other countries had no legitimate right to step in. (Jian Chen. China's Road to the Korean War 86.) With such expectations, Stalin approved the plan of invasion. In other words, the communist powers were initially not ready for a direct conflict with the United States and expected a swift victory against the South Korean army.