The Korean War
At the end of World War II in 1945, the United States and the USSR made Japanese soldiers leave the country of Korea. They divided Korea up into 2 separate countries, North and South Korea, because the USSR wanted Korea to be totally communist and the United States didn't. The United States controlled the southern half and the Soviet Union controlled the northern half.
The United States appointed Syngman Rhee as leader of South Korea in May, 1948. He began trying to get rid of communists from his country. Kim Il Sung was chosen by the Soviets to head North Korea which was communist.
The USSR, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a communist country. Communists believe that the central government controls everything and do not favor ownership of private property. When talk was begun of uniting the two sections, the USSR wouldn't give up the northern part of Korea.
This began a time in American history called the 'Cold War.' The United States and the USSR didn't openly fight but were always involved in unfriendly talk and threats back and forth. The Cold War went from 1945-1991. The Korean War was the first military action in the Cold War.
In 1950, The USSR signed an agreement with China, another communist country, to work together and defend each other. The leader of China at that time was Mao Zedong. Now there were two governments in Korea. The United States backed the southern part and the communists held the northern part.
The Soviets gave a large army to the Chinese who invaded South Korea in June, 1950. The North Koreans captured the capital Seoul. The UN forces then captured Pyongyang, capital of North Korea. The North Korean army had a lot more soldiers than the South Korean army.
President Harry Truman sent troops to help South Korea right away. The United Nations, an organization composed of many world nations, agreed to send troops also. They believed that communism needed to be held back.
General Douglas MacArthur was put in charge of the United Nations army. The United States told the world that its goal was to make Korea one country again. After the United Nations forces pushed the communists back above the 38th parallel, the border between North and South Korea, the Chinese decided to join the war. The UN forces were pushed back down to the original border.
General Douglas MacArthur asked President Truman to block Chinese harbors and drop atomic bombs on Chinese cities. The President refused. General MacArthur was fired and General Matthew Ridgway took over the army.
By June 1951, the two sides were engaged in hard fighting back and forth along the border, called the 38th parallel. Talks for settling the conflict were begun by the USSR in July but went on for two years while the fighting continued.
The armistice or peace treaty was signed on July 27, 1953. 54,000 Americans had died, from injuries or illness. 1.5 million military persons died in all from both sides.
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