On August 29, 1910, the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1910 started the annexation of the Korean Empire by Imperial Japan. The Korean Empire was declared a protectorate of Japan. Japanese colonial rule lasted thirty-five years (1910-1945). After the Koreans were liberated by the United States and the Soviet Union at the end of World War 2, the Korean Peninsula was divided into two zones of occupation by the Americans and the Soviets. With the border between the two zones in 1948 set at the 38th parallel, two sovereign nations were established as the result of the starting of the cold war. A communist state was established in the north under the communist leadership of Kim IL- sung, while in the south a capitalist state was established under the anti-communist leadership of Syngman Rhee. Both governments claimed to be the sole legitimate government of the Korean Peninsula with neither state accepting the 38th parallel as permanent.
On June 25, 1950, the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) crossed the 38th parallel with over 100,000 troops invading and capturing Seoul in three days. On June 27, President Truman ordered air and naval support for South Korea. The United Nations Security Council authorized the formation of the United Nations Command to dispatch forces made up of twenty-one countries to Korea to expel the North Korean invaders. Ninety percent of the UN Command military personnel was provided by the United States. The UN Security Council was able to authorize the UN Command, due to the Soviet Union’s staged walkout and boycott of the Security Council. With the Soviet Union failing to exercise its veto of the UN Command formation, the measure was approved, and troops were sent to the Korean Peninsula.
President Truman ordered the First Cavalry Division to proceed from Japan, where it was on occupation duty, to Korea to engage the enemy. The First Cavalry Division landed in Korea at a small harbor, Pohang-Dong in LSTs. The 1st Cavalry Division was under strength by 33% in both manpower and weapons, making it difficult to accomplish their mission of repelling the North Koreans. After the first two months, the South Korean Army (ROKA) and U.S. forces were at the point of defeat. General Douglas MacArthur ordered U.S. troops to pull back into a defensive line, called the Pusan perimeter. In September 1950, an amphibious UN counter-offensive was launched at Incheon, forcing the KPA back towards the north. UN forces invaded North Korea in October 1950 and moved rapidly towards the Chinese border at the Yalu River. General MacArthur assured President Truman that the Chinese would not enter the conflict, despite this provocation. He was wrong, as a surprise intervention by the Chinese military streamed across the Chinese border forcing the UN forces to retreat. The war would continue for three more years.
BATTLE CASUALTIES – KOREAN WAR (1950-1953)
Nearly five million people died in the Korean War. More than 50% were civilians.
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# The Korean War was the deadliest for civilians as a proportion of those killed. Civilians were killed in massive U.S. bombings throughout Korea. The North Korean invaders executed South Korean civilians without regard for their status as noncombatants. Seventeen massacres were recorded during the Korean War, killing thousands of innocent civilians.