The Korean War has been labeled as one of the most significant occurrences after the end of the Second World War. Some political analysts referred to it as a direct replacement for the Second World War. It had an indelible impact on the Cold War that followed immediately after. The Koreans however felt the full impact of the war as a tenth of the “population were either killed, wounded, or went missing” (Brune 53). There was equally a massive loss and destruction of property. By 1949, the Korean gross national product had significantly declined to owe to the effects of the war. North Korea suffered even more. It lost a total of eight thousand seven hundred factory establishments while the south incurred almost twice this loss. People were left homeless and in a state of hopelessness. The war was damn costly.
International relations from the U.S and the Soviet Union to stop the outbreak of another war hindered the future attempts of these countries to have control over Korea having been governed by the rule on spheres of influence. The war also triggered the need to improve armament by the United States and some countries in Europe.
This paper coherently examines the dramatic impacts caused by the Korean War and how these repercussions later elicited mixed reactions in world politics.
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Japan, and the Peoples Republic of China had very close ties with Korea and its counterpart Manchuria (Stueck 89). This was way back in the 19th century. This made the Soviet Union have a desire to conquer Korea because they had been traditional cronies for a long. The United States counteracted the soviet’s plan by occupying the southern part of the country. Some kind of effective occupation was gaining ground. This ended up with South Korea being run as a nationalist state while the north pursuing a communist ideology.
The Centre Stage of the War
As the Cold War was taking shape and gathering momentum, the Korean War also erupted (Stueck 197). This was on twenty-fifth June 1950. The Korean War was a product of this economic, political, and social struggle between the Soviets and the United States of America. The war was fought from two fronts with the U.S supplying its army as a mediator in the peacekeeping force courtesy of the United Nations. However, the Soviets did not directly engage in the war. Neither did they provide any weapons to North Korea to aid them in fighting. The United Nations peacekeeping force constituted by the U.S was, in any case, a disguise because it was made up of its troops alongside a few allies in the pretext of maintaining peace (Kaufman 96). At this point in the onset of the war, it was almost conspicuous that the United Nations was like a toothless dog and could be manipulated by the U.S at will. Some years later, China grew into a communist state but the U.S did not embroil itself much on it. Moreover, U.S did not react substantially even as Eastern Europe became a victim of the iron curtain policy (Malkasian 42). As a consequence, the United States changed its foreign policy, especially regarding the Cold War.
Southern Korea was not necessarily a very pertinent territory to the U.S. Her entry into the Korean War was merely a strategy to combat the economic ideology of communism which was spreading very fast. Besides, communism was viewed as a very serious threat and hence its spread to the U.S would spell doom.
As an impact to Korean War, the United States of América worked towards heightening its military power and arms ability. This was estimated to have grown up to four times the initial level (Malkasian 276). This marked the relentless pursuit for military and weaponry supremacy that would culminate in the intriguing cold war. Truman’s leadership indeed perfected the art of the arms race.
The Korean War-era also witnessed the inclusion of both black and white soldiers into the expansive U.S military troop. Black Americans had never been subjects of importance regarding the United States military service. This was a pat on the back to the U.S as far as civil rights were considered.
As a result of the War, Britain sent troops to maintain peace as part of its peacekeeping force required by the United Nations. This further cemented the relationship between U.S and Britain because the latter had agreed to support the former on its foreign policy regarding communism. The Korean War also saw the rising in the rank of the Peoples’ Republic of China. She became a significant power on the global scale. China achieved this by opposing the United States especially in her war against communism. This led to more aid flowing to China from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. At this point, the United States “had proved the fulcrum in both World war One and World War two” (Kaufman 127). The U.S military troops worked for hand in hand with European counterparts to gain military supremacy. The long-term impact of this power arrangement was the emergence of China as an important global economy and political power.
Another remarkable impact of the Korean War was seen in the manner Vietnam War was fought. This war provided a base for skill and competence gaining among the Asian communities. A lot could be shared out between the two Wars. For instance, the U.S drastically shifted its foreign policy from the one supporting a corrupt system to the eventual support of communism. Indeed, U.S eventually became allies with communist states both in Europe and Asia. This was a paradigm shift in terms of political views held by some of these countries purporting to uphold justice. Despite the dramatic events and happenings of the Korean War, the key actors and policymakers did not change much in terms of their tactics. In other words, less was learned from the Korean War even as the Vietnam atrocities broke out in the 1960s. The same mistakes were repeated.
The negative and positive outcome of the war was greatly influenced by some individuals like MacArthur (Malkasian 142). His well-thought-out plans and strategies, voluntary self-drive, general wit, and unwillingness to respect the authority affected the overall outlook on the Korean War. This was symbolic of how a person can leave an indelible mark in the world record of events.
The Korean War also set a center stage for new terms and conditions that were to be followed after the Second World War. These terms also expressed how cumbersome it would be to engage in future wars lest it spills out of proportions. The initial intention of the U.S was to control the tempo and magnitude of the Korean War (Brune 132). Unfortunately, this did not happen as the war rapidly swollen and broke its banks. As china got entangled in the war, there were fears that it could snowball into a Third World War. The Korean War was at times viewed as a breakthrough despite the uncontrollable instances during the war. One major success point during the war was tagged mainly on the indirect confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. This avoided the possibility of the war spilling over especially with the use of nuclear atomic bomb that was already in stock, having been used during the Second World War. Another positive attribute of the Korean War was the fact that no atomic bomb was used despite the heavy losses that were incurred. The quest to unify both north and South Korea has been elusive since the end of the War (Brune 309). There was some struggle to bring the two sides together before the outbreak of the war. Division and eminent lack of unity between the two Koreas are still eminent despite the deeper urge by most Koreans for a peace deal to be reached. This has consequently led to souring local and international relations with each side strongly holding onto its own opinion. They have varying demands even while presenting their aspirations to the United Nations. Lack of compatibility is one obvious characteristic between north and South Korea. The political fulcrum is being dominated by two sides. First of all, the Koreas themselves are at loggerheads and they are unable to find a lasting solution to the prevailing lack of a common front. Secondly, the notable world powers namely China, United States, and Japan have had socio-political and economic interests in both north and South Korea. This was explicitly witnessed before the end of the Cold War when the peninsula was held between walls by the aggressive politics involving the U.S and Soviet Union. These powers still have an upper hand and latent interests in the peninsula disregarding the bare fact that it is a member of the United Nations. The recent United States of America blatant involvement in the nuclear talks for northern Korea implies that there is more than meets the eye on the impacts of the Korean War. According to Brune, the unification of Koreans will remain elusive unless a striking pact is reached between the two Koreas and the superpowers (310).
Perhaps, the most significant and indelible mark left by the Korean War was how Americans related with Koreans thereafter. The bilateral agreement between U.S and Koreans has often been described as “an alliance forged in blood” (Stueck 186). The use of this expression is quite mystic to many. Nonetheless, it would best expound the circumstances that grew after the Korean War. Statistics still have it that an estimated thirty-seven thousand Americans lost their lives in the tumultuous Korean conflict. The South Koreans lost more than this. Surprisingly, the American war heroes who pay a courtesy call in South Korea are given utmost respect more than they could receive in their motherland.
The present-day alliance between South Korea and the United States of America is an impact that resulted from the war. For instance, U.S military bases are well established in South Korea today in addition to a mutual “defense treaty” (Stueck 187). Moreover, the stamping of U.S authority and its total presence in South Korea led to the inevitable spread of American culture. The military bases established radio stations that were used for the sole purpose of information and entertainment to its crew. In extension, the Koreans got hold of the opportunity to disseminate their news as well as entertainment value for its citizens. Moreover, the U.S system of nationalistic and democratic governance was well established in South Korea while North Korea remained largely under the influence of the Soviets and communism.
The Korean War which lasted from1950 to 1953 has been considered to be the first proxy war in which the outstanding superpowers fought by extension and indirectly, intertwining a third party in their conflict.
Another consequence derived from this war was the recovery patterns of the victims namely the north and South Korea. The south only stalled in the first ten years after the war but later recovered both economically and politically. It is currently well developed and enjoying the modern trends of civilization. On the other hand, northern Korea stagnated up to the contemporary day and is largely underdeveloped. It is still reeling from the devastating effects of the war. A case in point to the turmoil facing North Korea was witnessed in 1990 when it faced an economic downturn. This was accompanied by the famine disaster that claimed approximately two and a half million lives.
The Korean War analysts believed that the U.S and Japan economies received a major face-lifting as a result of the war. They extended their political borders which in turn created a favorable economic environment for their growth (Tarling 108). The superpowers also got the opportunity to expand their military expeditions which were coupled with the advent of the cold war. In addition, after the failure of the League of Nations, there was a necessity to form a more formidable organization that would prevent the outbreak of another war. The United Nations organization was formed later in 1945 with a broad objective of seeking a peaceful resolution to conflicts. With U.S having major control in U.N, the Korean War was inevitable.
The boundaries between north and southern Korea were heightened during and even after the war. There came the urgency for clear demarcation as the wrangling superpowers sought to stamp their authority by fighting the proxy war.
The social outfit in which South Korea became a republic while the north remained under communism is a source of conflict until today.
The Korean War which was fought from 1950 to 1953 between the rivaling north and the south left indelible impacts not just on Koreans themselves but also on the world at large. Millions of lives were lost in the war alongside the destruction of property. Industrial plants stagnated and political turmoil was rife. The main players in the war were the main superpowers who were attempting to extend their influence. The war later became the genesis of the Cold War which torn apart the main superpowers in terms of ideological differences and technological advancement.
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