Cold War 3 (Korean War) (1)

The Korean War
(Hey, my grandfather fought in that war!)
Main Idea: Americans (under the United Nations) fought to stop a communist takeover of Korea.
Although there was never an actual war between the US and Soviets during the Cold War, there
were several wars fought elsewhere that were still all about stopping the spread of
North Part= Communism, South Part= Free
Your last handout left off by saying that North Korea (Communist) had invaded South Korea.
People were so petrified (stricken with fear) that Communism was spreading that Truman knew
we needed to go to war (Again).
The Invasion of South Korea
To backtrack a little, remember, the Soviets and the US pulled their forces out of Korea in 1949.
After that happened, North Korea (communist) and South Korea continued to dislike/distrust
each other, and then in June 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea in an attempt to take over.
Within a few days, Communist forces had completely taken over Seoul, the capital of South
Truman thought (and was probably right) that the Soviets were behind this, so without even
asking Congress to declare war, he sent “limited” military air and sea forces to defend South
Korea. He called this “a police action” to contain (there’s that word again) Communism.
The UN Responds
In addition, President Truman asked the UN to send its own forces in to help. Remember, the
United Nations was better than the lousy League of Nations (which wasn’t around anymore),
because it DID have its own army to enforce its decisions.
Well, the UN agreed and condemned (spoke down about) the invasion of South Korea and
agreed to send a special force there to set thing straight. So who did they get to lead this
“I’m back kids!”
That’s right, good old General Douglas MacArthur was back in action. MacArthur led troops
into Korea to stop the advance of the Communist forces.
The UN had a clear goal: to PUSH the North Koreans back across the 38 degree Latitude line
(you remember what that is! What’s that, you don’t? OK, you’re in trouble). That was the line
that divided North and South Korea.
Well, MacArthur was good at his job, and he succeeded in driving the North Koreans back to
their area. This was considered a huge success. MacArthur and told him they needed to invade
North Korea. Truman was a little hesitant to do this, because he thought if they did this, it
would draw Russia and China into the conflict and make this a bigger problem than it already
“Nah, trust me, you’re worrying about nothing…”
MacArthur assured Truman that this wouldn’t happen. He said there was NO WAY China and/or
the Soviets would get involved and he would have the troops “home by Christmas” (This was in
October). I don’t know about this, it seems like this is going to end badly. Let’s see if I am
Well, Truman was persuaded (convinced by MacArthur) to go ahead, so the US and UN launched
an invasion into North Korea to create a unified, communist-free North Korea. It went well at
first, and UN forces captured the North Korean capital of Pyongyang (“pee-yong-yang”). As they
moved closer to the border between China and North Korea. Victory seemed only days away.
Problem time! As they got closer to China’s border, the UN forces received a message from
China: If the invasion of North Korea continued, China would send its forces in to support
North Korea.
“Wait Doug, didn’t you just tell me that wasn’t going to happen?”
“Don’t worry, they won’t do it, relax Harry”
Yeah, I don’t like where this is going either, dude.
Well, Truman didn’t believe Mao and thought they were bluffing, so he let MacArthur keep
moving north.
Well, Mao and the Chinese weren’t bluffing, and in late October, thousands of Chinese
troops marched into North Korea and attacked the UN forces. The UN troops were badly
outnumbered and retreated back across the 38 degree N latitude line. Within days, the
Communists had re-captured Seoul, the South Korean capital.
(Sigh) This war seems like a lot of back-and-forth. We eventually re-captured Seoul and
pushed the Communists back across the 38th parallel (latitude line). The war now became a
stalemate, a situation in which neither side was able to gain much ground or achieve a solid
victory. This lasted almost TWO YEARS. (Jeez, enough with this war already)
Truman and MacArthur Disagree
(aka “…and now it’s time for good idea/bad idea”)
As this stalemate went on, Truman was getting sick of it and wanted to negotiate with the
Communists just to get the fighting over. (good idea) MacArthur, however though that we
should attack China, either by invading the country or bombing the troops that were in North
Korea (bad idea). Truman knew this would absolutely lead to a much BIGGER war or at worst,
end up another World War (Which was the LAST thing we needed).
Well, MacArthur didn’t like this, and wrote a letter to Congress, whining and complaining that
he was being held back and kept from doing his job. Hey MacArthur:
Seriously, I don’t care how good a General MacArthur was, he should just do his job and
listen to the President, who was totally right that this would lead to a really big (possibly
World) war. MacArthur wrote in his letter “We must win” and “There is no substitute for
victory”. Wow. Anyway, so what happened?
Well, Truman fired him, that’s what happened. He said he was not respecting the authority
of the President. This is exactly what he should have done. However, MacArthur’s firing
caused a storm of protests back in the US.
Despite his strange ideas, MacArthur was incredibly popular back in the US and many
Americans supported him back in the states against the president. When he returned
home, he received a hero’s welcome and delivered a farewell speech to congress. He
stated: “Old Soldiers never die, they just fade away.”
Ending the Conflict (Get this over with already)
The two sides in the Korean War began negotiations (peace talks) in July 1951. They lasted
for about 2 years, and a cease-fire wasn’t agreed upon until July 27, 1953, under President
Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Wait, wasn’t he a general last time we saw him? Yes indeed, but as I told you then, he
would be a future president, and he was. He became president after Truman.
The agreement ending the war created a demilitarized zone between North and South
Korea. This means that this is an area where NO military forces could enter.
The Korean War was against waste of time and lives. More than 54,000 Americans died and
nearly2 million Koreans. And for what? Nobody got anything, and at the end of the war,
everything was back to the way it was BEFORE THE WAR STARTED.
Well, America’s involvement made one thing absolutely clear to the Soviet Union: The
United States was committed to fighting Communist spreading with money, weapons and
even lives if necessary.
1.) What was the capital of South Korea
2.) Which American General led the UN forces in the Korean War?
3.) What was Truman worried would happen if the UN forces invaded North Korea?
4.) What line of latitude divided North and South Korea?
5.) What is a stalemate?
6.) What does the word “petrified” mean as it is used here?
7.) What did Truman do when MacArthur started badmouthing him and his decision regarding the
8.) Who was president when the Korean War finally ended?
9.) What is a demilitarized zone?
10.) What was the United Nations’ goal once it got involved in the Korean conflict? (what did they
want to do?)
11.) What did MacArthur tell Truman when he was worried about invading North Korea? (He said
this to make Truman feel better about the decision)
12.) It says America getting involved in the Korean conflict made something clear to the Soviets.
What was it?
13.) When it was all said and done, did the whole war change anything in Korea?
14.) Who did Truman think was behind the problems in Korea?
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