thesis for korean war

Korean War Essay

Counting the years, it is possible to mention that it passed more than sixty years since the beginning of the war on the Korean peninsula. But to this day in the West and in Japan there is a myth that North Korean troops attacked first. This “thesis” was also heard recently on some Russian TV channels. However, even a small excursion into the postwar 1945 shows that originally, the U.S. authorities and a group of Korean collaborators were very interested in the escalation of the conflict in the region. On the one hand, it can be explained by the fact that being located on the Korean peninsula, the U.S. government could control the entire Southeast Asia, including the eastern part of the Soviet Union and China, which were the main geopolitical rivals to Washington. But on the other hand, there is another point of view on the war, and Sandler stated that “it would seem that there could be little dispute of the basic fact that the Korean People’s Army of the Democratic Republic of Korea invaded the Republic of Korea. But as early as 1952 the “independent” journalist, I.F. Stone, claimed that the accepted version was really all wrong, that South Korea had actually invaded the North, or at the least, that the North Korean invasion was an exasperated response to southern provocation and cross-border attacks”. [1] Of course, there are as many opinions as there are many commentators on the events of the past. By the way, many historians often refer to the Korean War as something forgotten, even naming it “the forgotten war,” but none war should be forgotten because every war takes many people lives, influencing the course of the history and changing destinies; so, we are going to explore the Korean war with all the necessary details in the body of this assignment. The thesis statement is the next: the Korean War occupies its significant place between the World War II and the Vietnam War, and every country that was involved in the war has the own attitude to the events and protects the own version of the history; so, the war happened and the conflict existed, while the roots of its beginning and its consequences are interpreted in different ways.

In the historical books the Korean War lies between the great drama of the World War II and the Vietnam War. Shortly describing the Korean War for the purpose to give the war a first description, we may say that it was the first armed confrontation of the Cold War, which lasted just over the three years (from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953). And the conflict erupted between the North Korea and the South Korea; however, it is quite often seen as a war between the U.S. and its allies against the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union. To acknowledge this statement, we can use Brune’s and Higham’s words, who said that “finally, the Korean War brought direct conflict between U.S. and communist forces, a situation avoided in Europe throughout the cold war”. [2]

The above made description can be explained by the fact that the Korean War was by its essence an armed conflict between the Korean Democratic People’s Republic (North Korea) and China (supported by the Soviet Union), on the one hand, and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and a coalition of several UN countries led by the U.S., on the other hand. So, it can be mentioned that not only Korea was involved in the own war because many other countries had their political and economic interests there. Moreover, the Korean War was a bloody three-year civil slaughterhouse between North Korea and South Korea – in fact, a single country that was divided between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, while the country was also used as a testing ground for reconnaissance. As a result of the war, neither side achieved what it wanted, and the state border stayed on the 38th parallel. Informally, the war lasts even to this day, in the same form as the Cold War was hold.

Observing the beginning of the war, it becomes obvious that small and modest Korea rarely could solve anything by itself in a world where it was everywhere surrounded by too smart neighbors. So, for the purpose to put a dominance over the country Americans had developed a secret plan for the outbreak of the war on the peninsula, which would also allow to discredit not only North Korea but also the ideas of socialism and communism in general, labeling them as aggressive. It was made by the reason that the United States was imperative to establish itself as the main fighter in the world “for the ideals of freedom and democracy,” which, naturally, facilitated their way into new markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America. There was an increase in sympathy for the Soviet Union: the rapid pace of reconstruction without any outside help testified about the benefits of a planned economy on the free market.

In addition, to complete the work of NATO, established in April 1949, there was needed a precedent that would demonstrate the effectiveness of the new alliance. After that, the U.S. would be able to successfully manipulate the countries of the Western Europe by drawing them into long-term “strategy of containment.” Moreover, the U.S. has created a secret group on national security, which was led by a former banker from the Wall Street, and this group has been working on creating substantiation of future military aggression and determined the states that were appropriate for this aim. So, everything is not as simple with the Korean War as it very often presented in media and popular books on history because the United States being governed by very talented leaders was trying to provide the own dominance all over the world in all possible ways, including the use of special secret technologies and creating secret groups of the best professionals for these purposes. And finally, the result of successful advocacy campaign of the United States can be seen in the fact that even today many people believe to the official reason for the war, which to this day hold in many countries: North Korea started the war.

In addition, there is no necessity to blame the United States in all evils, including the beginning of the Korean War because every country protects its interests, and the United States is not an exception. It should be noted that North Korea with the Soviet Union’s support conducted reorganization of the army and also prepared for the conflict. Initially, both the Soviet Union and North Korea assumed that separation of the 38th parallel was temporary, and the two Koreas would be able to unite their territories and forces at the end. However, in 1948, South Korea proclaimed its independence. Those days leader really feared the growth of patriotic and anti-American sentiments, so he tried to usurp the executive power in the country. The United States went to meet these new steps because they believed such a policy to be productive to achieve their goals. In response, North Korea also had to declare its sovereignty.

Incidentally, the theme of the Korean War is still an important fact of the history because this conflict can be considered practically the beginning of the Cold War (the famous Fulton speech of Winston Churchill sounded back in 1946). And as it was described above, in this war, the United States followed a policy of double standards which was characterized by a big portion of cynicism. The U.S. created a special force to conduct psychological operations especially for the Korean War.

Thinking about the significance of the Korean War and its consequences in the broader context of history, we may say that firstly, the Korean War was really significant in the context of the Cold War. To explain, the war on the Korean Peninsula was the first “hot war” during the Cold War. Secondly, one of its main outcomes was that the Americans decided not to use nuclear weapons during the confrontation. When the Chinese entered the war, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur demanded a nuclear strike on China. But then the U.S. President Harry Truman did not accept the proposal, believing that it would be an unnecessary war at the wrong time against the wrong enemy. Then the only enemy against whom Washington considered possible to use nuclear weapons was the Soviet Union. Simultaneously, the U.S. wanted at all costs to hold back the spread of Soviet influence on Third World countries. As a result, from 1945 to 1991 there was unleashed about 150 local wars between two rival blocs across the planet. [3]

Moreover, it can be also added that the Korean War played its own role in strengthening the relations and union between North Korea and China. When the leader of North Korea asked Stalin to support a unifying war on the Korean peninsula, the Soviet Union’s leaders said “yes”, but he also made it clear that in a case when the North Korean troops need help, they will have to apply for it in China. So, the Korean leader traveled to China and asked for a help there, and that help was needed as early as in October 1950, when the South Korean army and UN troops approached the shore of the river on the border with China. Moreover, the so-called Chinese people’s volunteers, despite their huge losses, helped the North Koreans regain their territory and push the front line below the 38th parallel. Disposing near the border, opposing sides ended hostilities after awhile.

To continue, if not the Chinese intervention, the war would have ended in November 1950, and the regime of Kim Ir-Sen would not exist at all. Of course, the Soviet Union also helped Pyongyang, but the help was not so big, such as air support by fighters flown by Soviet pilots. But the decisive factor was the will to fight, despite the losses. By the way, the UN forces lost about 37,000 soldiers, the Chinese – a few hundred thousand, and the North Koreans – millions.

And finally, even today the Korean War left a trace in hearts of millions of Korean people, but the attitude to it has different manifestations in North and South Korea. For instance, even now in South Korea, the war is not a thing of the past. Everything that happens in the country has a direct attitude to the Korean War or is its consequence. If we go down to the border with North Korea, it is easy to find that South Korea is in a constant state of operational readiness, South Korea is always ready to defend its borders and citizens. Yes, today the debate died down a bit, but the conflict remains in everyone’s subconscious.

In a case of North Korea, the Korean War is one of the myths that hold the state itself. According to this myth, the South Koreans, instigated by the Americans attacked the only legitimate regime in Korea and destroyed the country. That war is used to justify any military and political actions of the North Korean leadership, including nuclear-missile tests, as Pyongyang considers that it is constantly threatened from outside. Ordinary citizens have to believe what they are told by the state media. And according to official version, in 1950, People’s Republic of China was attacked by the enemies, while the North Koreans were forced to protect themselves, and they won the war through military achievements of their leadership and allies.

In conclusion, we have researched a lot of facts about the Korean War, beginning with the roots of the conflict, mentioning the interests of different countries in deadlock correction, and ending with the consequences of the war to both Koreas, and their allies. We have also proved that the war took away millions of lives, and it was a kind of “hot war” in the frames of the Cold War. So, we can not ignore the Korean War, naming it “the forgotten war” because the Korean War was the first local armed conflict between western and socialist blocks in the nuclear age, in which participation of superpowers was limited by the reason that it was extended to a limited area and not accompanied by the use of weapons of mass destruction.

[1] Stanley Sandler, The Korean War: No Victors, No Vanquished (London: UCL Press, 1999), p. 47.

[2] Lester H. Brune and Robin Higham, The Korean War: Handbook of the Literature and Research (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996), p. 35.

[3] Brune and Higham, 136.

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'thinking soldiers' : the construction of subjectivity in the era of the korean war.

Huxford, Grace (2014) 'Thinking soldiers' : the construction of subjectivity in the era of the Korean War. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.

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This thesis explores the significance of the Korean War (1950–1953) to British social history. In particular, it examines the subjectivity of individuals who served in the British military during this 'forgotten war'. It uses the conflict as a case study through which to understand the influence of the state in shaping individuals in the Cold War period. This thesis suggests that the construction, control and efficiency of human subjects – and of the soldier in particular – were key concerns for all combatant nations involved in the Cold War. In their recent studies of life-writing Igal Halfin and Jochen Hellbeck argue that state mechanisms were paramount in moulding subjectivity in Soviet Russia, but this thesis argues (also using life-writing as the principal source) that such historical discussion should be extended to other contexts. From the psychological assessment of new recruits to the interrogation of returned prisoners of war, British authorities in the mid-twentieth century repeatedly projected their ideal models of ‘thinking’ military subjects. In making such an argument, this thesis references a particularly influential body of work on the construction of subjectivity which began in the late 1980s, including work by Nikolas Rose, Anthony Giddens and Mike Savage. Yet the following chapters also suggest that there are limits to these interpretations. Using the under-researched and under-theorised letters, diaries, poetry and memoirs of British servicemen (from a range of social and military backgrounds) this thesis argues that soldiers frequently deviated from the models that were presented to them or were ambivalent towards to the structures that sought to shape them into uniform, and uniformed, subjects. In different contexts and over time, this thesis shows how the meaning of being a 'thinking soldier' of the Korean War changed profoundly, with ramifications for society more broadly.

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