THE ESCALATION OF THE COLD WAR

The Korean War 1950-1953

The Korean War 1950-1953

GCSE History Revision - North and South Korean FlagsThe Korean War marked a new spike in Cold War tensions. Since 1945 the North of the country had been controlled by communist forces, with the South under the power of non-communists. After communists took power in China following a Civil War against their Nationalist enemies, the US started to look nervously at Korea; it was worried that each new communist takeover would encourage another one somewhere else.

And sure enough, in 1950, North Korea’s leader, Kim Il-Sung, got the backing of China and Stalin to invade the South. The United States responded by arranging for the new United Nations to send troops to Korea to protect the South.

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War – Who had the Upper Hand?

GCSE History Revision - Korean War MemorialTo start with, it seemed everything was going the US and the UN’s way: their forces pushed back the North Koreans fairly easily, and had them on the ropes by the end of 1950. But then the Chinese army, which although not particularly advanced had millions upon millions of men, poured into Korea to help the North. The wave of manpower pushed the UN forces back to the South, though after reinforcements arrived they in turn drove the Communists back by July 1951 to the 38th Parallel, the border between the North and the South that had been in place before the initial invasion. And there they stayed for two full years, until the deadlock was broken in July 1953 by President Eisenhower suggesting that everyone called it a draw, and threatening to use atomic bombs against China if they didn’t see things his way.