Causes of Korean War

Topics: South Korea, North Korea, Korean War Pages: 36 (9550 words) Published: January 23, 2014
The Causes of the Korean War, 1950-1953
Ohn Chang-Il
Korea Military Academy

The causes of the Korean War (1950-1953) can be examined in two categories, ideological and political. Ideologically, the communist side, including the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea, desired to secure the Korean peninsula and incorporate it in a communist bloc. Politically, the Soviet Union considered the Korean peninsula in the light of Poland in Eastern Europe—as a springboard to attack Russia—and asserted that the Korean government should be “loyal” to the Soviet Union. Because of this policy and strategic posture, the Soviet military government in North Korea (1945-48) rejected any idea of establishing one Korean government under the guidance of the United Nations. The two Korean governments, instead of one, were thus established, one in South Korea under the blessing of the United Nations and the other in the north under the direction of the Soviet Union. Observing this Soviet posture on the Korean peninsula, North Korean leader Kim Il-sung asked for Soviet support to arm North Korean forces and Stalin fully supported Kim and secured newly-born Communist China’s support for the cause. Judging that it needed a buffer zone against the West and Soviet aid for nation building, the Chinese government readily accepted a role to aid North Korea, specifically, in case of full American intervention in the projected war. With full support from the Soviet Union and comradely assistance from China, Kim Il-sung attacked South Korea with forces that were better armed, equipped, and prepared than their counterparts in South Korea.

Keywords: Korean War, 1950-1953; Division of the Korean Peninsula; Military Occupation of the United States and the Soviet Union in the Two Parts of Korea; UN Resolution Calling for General Election throughout Korea; Establishment of North and South Korean

governments; Military Imbalance between North and South Korea; North Korean Attack on South Korea.

International Journal of Korean Studies · Vol. XIV, No. 2


The Korean War, like many wars in history, did not take place in a vacuum. It broke out because the North Koreans attacked South Korea with confidence that they could win the war and communize the entire Korean peninsula. North Korean confidence to win the fighting against the South was based not on hope but on high confidence that North Korean forces were able to secure an easy victory in the war. In fact, the North Korean forces were far superior to those of the South in all possible categories of the fighting capabilities and abilities. They were fully armed with heavy weapons and equipment supplied by the Soviet Union, well trained by the prudent guidance of Soviet military education and training advisers, greatly reinforced with the Korean soldiers and combat leadership, well-matured in the Chinese Civil War (1927-1949) period, and given a coordinated fighting plan prepared by the Soviet military war-planning advisers. Having judged from the facts, North Korea and its sponsors, the Soviet Union and Communist China, anticipated an easy victory over South Korea, provided that the United States would not rapidly intervene with its forces. With these expectations and anxieties, North Korea attacked South Korea on June 25, 1950, which became the immediate and direct cause of the Korean War.

In order to clarify the direct causes of the war, that is, that North Korea attacked South Korea, this article tries to uncover some answers as to why and how the two Koreas, instead of one, were established on the Korean peninsula in the first place, what roles the United States and the Soviet Union played in the course of having the two Korean

governments established in Korea, and, assuming that the two parts of Korea were the same in almost all arenas including military after the Pacific War (1941-45), why and how North Korea became able to launch a full-scale military offensive against the South...
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