The Korean War began 70 years ago this week. Here are 6 things you might not know about the conflict


Sixteen nations, together with the United States, despatched fight troops in assist of South Korea underneath the United Nations Command. Chinese troops intervened on the North Korean aspect.

War broke out on June 25, 1950, when North Korean forces stormed throughout the 38th parallel dividing North and South Korea. An armistice signed on July 27, 1953, stopped the conflict, however the battle by no means formally ended as a result of there was no peace treaty.

Trump has met 3 times with North Korean chief Kim Jong Un and final 12 months became the first sitting US leader to set foot inside the communist nation.

While the twists and turns of immediately’s US-North Korea relationship have put a highlight on the Korean War’s legacy, it’s nonetheless a extensively neglected conflict.

Here are six things you might not know about the Korean War:

The US Army as soon as managed considered one of the most secretive cities on Earth, Pyongyang

It’s nearly not possible for Americans to journey to North Korea or its capital metropolis. US passport holders are not allowed to go there with out particular permission from the US State Department.

But for eight weeks in 1950, Pyongyang was underneath management of the US Army.

On October 19 of that 12 months, the US Army’s 1st Cavalry Division together with a division of South Korean troopers captured the North Korean capital, in accordance with US Army histories.

The US forces rapidly made themselves at dwelling, in accordance with the histories.

By October 22, the US Eighth Army had arrange its advance headquarters in what was the headquarters constructing for North Korean chief Kim Il Sung.

US Marines take cover behind a barricade as street fighting rages in Pyongyang. On the wall in the background are images of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and North Korean leader Kim Il Sung.

An image from the time reveals an American intelligence officer sitting at Kim’s desk with a portrait of Soviet Union chief Joseph Stalin hanging on the wall behind him.

But the US army’s occupation of Pyongyang was short-lived. When Chinese troops entered the battle in late November 1950, they rapidly pushed south and vanquished US forces from Pyongyang by December 5.

The US dropped extra bombs on North Korea than on the whole area throughout WWII

Most photographs of the Korean War are of floor battles fought in locations like the Chosin Reservoir and Incheon. But a lot of the destruction wreaked on North Korea by the US army was finished in a relentless bombing marketing campaign.

During the three years of the Korean War, US plane dropped 635,000 tons of bombs — each excessive explosive and incendiary — on North Korea. That’s greater than the 500,000 tons of bombs the US dropped in the Pacific in the entirety of the Second World War, in accordance with figures cited by historian Charles Armstrong in the Asia-Pacific Journal.
US Air Force B-29 Superfortresses dropping bombs during the Korean War.

Journalists, worldwide observers and American prisoners of battle who have been in North Korea throughout the battle reported almost each substantial constructing had been destroyed. By November 1950, North Korea was advising its residents to dig holes for housing and shelter.

North Korea did not preserve official casualty figures from the bombings, however info obtained from Russian archives by the Wilson Center’s Cold War International History Project put the quantity at greater than 280,000.

Gen. Curtis LeMay, the father of US strategic bombing and the architect of fireplace raids that destroyed swathes of Japanese cities in World War II, mentioned this of the American bombing of North Korea:

“We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea anyway, some way or another.”

An American soldier walks around the rubble of Hamhung, Korea, circa 1950.

Armstrong mentioned that bombing of North Korea has results that linger to this day.

“The DPRK (Democratic Republic of Korea) government never forgot the lesson of North Korea’s vulnerability to American air attack, and for half a century after the Armistice continued to strengthen antiaircraft defenses, build underground installations, and eventually develop nuclear weapons to ensure that North Korea would not find itself in such a position again,” Armstrong wrote.

North Korea satisfied the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin to let the battle occur

When World War II ended, management of the Korean Peninsula — occupied by defeated Japanese troops — was divided between the Soviet Union in the north and the United States in the south.

Kim Il Sung, the chief of North Korea, wished to unite the two Koreas underneath communist rule and sought permission of Soviet chief Joseph Stalin to take action by pressure, in accordance with records from the Wilson Center.
A portrait of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin is prepared for a parade in Pyongyang in July 1947.

Upon Kim’s first request to invade in March 1949, Stalin was cautious and did not need to be pulled right into a conflict with the United States, which nonetheless had occupation troops in South Korea.

But when these troops have been pulled in the summer time of 1949, Stalin’s opposition softened, and by April 1950 the Soviet chief was prepared to listen to Kim out once more when the North Korean chief visited Moscow.

Stalin advised Kim that the USSR would again the invasion, however provided that Kim acquired communist China to approve too.

Emboldened by communist China’s victory over Nationalist forces in 1949 — in a civil battle during which Washington did not intervene — Chinese chief Mao Zedong agreed and provided to be a backup pressure for North Korean troops in the eventuality the US intervened.

With that, Kim had the inexperienced mild to invade.

The Korean War saved Taiwan from a possible communist takeover

In 1949, communist China was amassing forces alongside its coast to invade Taiwan, the island to which Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist forces had fled after shedding to Mao and the communists in the Chinese Civil War.

But the outbreak of the Korean War put an enormous roadblock in the means of communist China’s plans — the US Navy. Fearful of the preventing in Korea spreading throughout East Asia, President Harry Truman dispatched US warships to the waters between China and Taiwan.

The US State Department tells how shut Taiwan, now a self-governed entity that Beijing nonetheless claims as a part of China, got here to a possible communist takeover.

“In late 1949 and early 1950, American officials were prepared to let PRC (People’s Republic of China) forces cross the Strait and defeat Chiang, but after the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, the United States sent its Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Strait to prevent the Korean conflict from spreading south,” reads a passage from the department’s Office of the Historian.

“The appearance of the Seventh Fleet angered the Chinese communists, who transferred their troops poised for an invasion of Taiwan to the Korean front,” it reads.

By October 19, 1950, 12 divisions of communist Chinese troops, greater than a quarter-million males, have been in North Korea, according to a Brookings Institution account.

Those Chinese troops would inflict horrific losses on the US and South Korean troops they confronted, finally driving them out of North Korea utterly.

But China additionally suffered large losses; greater than 180,000 of its troops have been killed.

The first jet-vs-jet dogfight

F-80 Shooting Star Korean War-era fighter at National Musuem of the US Air Force

Jet fighters entered army service in World War II with the introduction of the German Messerschmidt 262. But the jet fighters did not go head-to-head in a “Top Gun”-style dogfight till the Korean War.

Records appear to agree that first dogfight occurred over Sinuiju in North Korea, close to the Yalu River, and its border with China on November 8, 1950. The Americans, flying F-80 Shooting Star jets, have been confronted by MiG-15s, Soviet-made jets that have been most likely being piloted by Soviet pilots from bases in China.

According to a report from the historian of the US Air Force’s 51st Fighter Wing, eight to 12 MiGs got here after an American flight of 4 F-80s that day. In a 60-second encounter with a kind of MIGs, Air Force 1st Lt. Russell Brown hit a MiG-15 with fireplace from his jet’s cannon and noticed it explode in flames, changing into the first jet fighter pilot to attain a kill in a dogfight, the report says.
But others dispute that account, with a report from the US Naval Institute (USNI) saying that Soviet information present no MiGs have been misplaced that day.

What is for certain is that the subsequent day, November 9, 1950, US Navy Lt. Cmdr. William Amen, flying an F9F fighter off the plane provider USS Philippine Sea, shot down a MiG-15 throughout airstrikes in opposition to bridges on the Yalu River.

Soviet information verify the MiG-15 loss that day, in accordance with the USNI report.

Four F-80 jet fighters flying at 30,000 feet on their flight from a Japanese base to their mission against the North Korean cCommunist army columns, Korea, July 13, 1950.

Later in the battle, the US launched the F-86 jet to the Korean conflict. That airplane received fame in battles in opposition to the MiG-15 in what was know as “MiG Alley,” the space alongside the Korea-China border, the place the Soviet pilots flew out of bases on the Chinese aspect.

The National Museum of the US Air Force in Ohio explains MiG Alley this means:

“Large formations of MiGs would lie in wait on the Manchurian side of the border. When UN aircraft entered MiG Alley, these MiGs would swoop down from high altitude to attack. If the MiGs ran into trouble, they would try to escape back over the border into communist China. (To prevent a wider war, UN pilots were ordered not to attack targets in Manchuria.) Even with this advantage, communist pilots still could not compete against the better-trained Sabre pilots of the US Air Force, who scored a kill ratio of about 8:1 against the MiGs.”

The United States by no means declared battle

Though hundreds of thousands of lives have been misplaced throughout the preventing on the Korean Peninsula between 1950 and 1953, they have been technically casualties of what was referred to as a “police action.”

Under the US Constitution, solely the US Congress can declare battle on one other nation. But it has not finished so since World War II.

When North Korea invaded the South in 1950, US President Harry Truman despatched the US army to intervene as a part of a mixed effort authorized by the United Nations Security Council.

“Fifteen other nations also sent troops under the UN command. Truman did not seek a formal declaration of war from Congress; officially, America’s presence in Korea amounted to no more than a ‘police action,'” reads a passage from the US National Archives.
1952: US soldiers dig in to a hill in Korea during the Korean war
And these police actions have grow to be the norm for US army intervention ever since. The Vietnam War, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, all have seen US troops enter fight underneath congressional authorizations for the use of army pressure (AUMF), according to the US House of Representatives website.

Though the AUMF had been round since the starting of the republic, “after World War II … AUMFs became much broader, often granting Presidents sweeping authority to engage America’s military around the world,” the US House web site says.

“The war was the first large overseas US conflict without a declaration of war, setting a precedent for the unilateral presidential power exercised today,” Emory University regulation professor Mary Dudziak wrote in a 2019 opinion column for the Washington Post.

“The Korean War has helped to enable this century’s forever wars,” Dudziak wrote.



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