The Korean War began in August 1945 in the classical pattern of what Mao Zedong and other Asian revolutionaries called a "people's war of national liberation." The conflict in Korea, however, was a people's war with a difference because two revolutionary liberation movements followed parallel paths to power, but succeeded in dominating only half the country.
The Korean War can be considered as a proxy war of the Cold War, although scholars such as Millett (2001) believe that "the Korean War is not just an American war or a proxy Cold War conflict, but an Asian war"; and saw the war as between China and South Korea. However, it is undeniable that the US and Soviet Union's involvement is not negligible, and hence, we take the conflict as a part of the Cold War.
After World War Two, when it was clear that Japan was to surrender, US and the Soviet Union, both went into Korean to take the Japanese surrender, US from the southern part of Korea, and the Soviet Union from the north. Soviet advance into Korea stopped at the 38th parallel, as previously agreed on with US.
It was the intention of both parties to set up stable government and leave the country, but major ideological differences between the two parties meant that neither wanted the peninsula to fall into the other's hands, and wanted the government set up to be favourable to them. North Korea became controlled by communists, while South Korea became a democratic nation.
The bitter rivalry of the Christian-capitalist modernizers and Marxist-Leninists in Korea dates from the 1920s. (Millett, 2001) This ideological separation of the country prevails till today.
The Korean War started when the North Korean Communist army crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded non-Communist South Korea. North Korean, armed with Soviet tanks, quickly overran South Korea, and US came to the latter's aid.
Although Korea was not strategically important to the United States, the political environment in the Cold War made policymakers hesitant to appear "soft on Communism."
MacArthur led the forces across the 38th Parallel and followed North Korean retreat all the way to the northernmost provinces of North Korea. This move clearly threatened Communist China interests in Manchuria, who had previously "issued a categorical warning through the Indian ambassador in Peking that they would intervene in the war if this happened." (Warner, 1980) An army was sent across the Yalu River to attack the US led forces.
Mao Ze Dong issued the order to intervene. 'In order to support the Korean people's war of liberation', he wrote, 'and to resist the attacks of U.S. imperialism and its running dogs, thereby safeguarding the interests of the people of Korea, China and all the other countries in the East, I herewith order the Chinese People's Volunteers to march speedily to Korea and join the Korean comrades in fighting the aggressors and winning a glorious victory."' This order was dated October 8, 1950, the day after the first American troops had crossed the 38th parallel. (Warner, 1980)
MacArthur was eventually relieved of his duties by President Truman and American forces were stalled at the 38th parallel.
In 1953 a peace treaty was signed that ended the Korean War, returning Korea to a divided status essentially the same as before the war.
The Korean War marked one of the first conflicts between Communist China and US. It was also considered by most, a proxy war of the Cold War. Dramatically, General MacArthur, a previous war hero of World War Two, was sacked in the process. North and South Korea continued to be in a state of war for a long time, and until recent times did North Korea finally opened itself up to the world. One whole generation of Koreans suffered because of this war.
Scholars such as Robert Jarvis believe that the Korean War created the Cold War world. He described the characteristics of Cold War as US having high defense budgets, and the NATO militarized. "It is clear that Korea triggered them, but it is less clear that they would not have occurred without that event." (Jervis, 1980)
Warner (1980) wrote that the Korean War cemented a somewhat shaky Sino-Soviet alliance, which was testified by Mao Ze Dong himself, "[Stalin]... suspected China of being a Yugoslavia, and that I would become a second Tito. Later when I went to Moscow to sign the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance, we had to go through another struggle. He was not willing to sign a treaty. After two months of negotiations he at last signed. When did Stalin begin to have confidence in us? It was at the time of the Resist America, Aid Korea campaign from the winter of 1950. He then came to believe that we were not Tito, not Yugoslavia." (Warner, 1980)
This particular episode of the Cold War can contribute to 2 components of the civilizational paradigm that the site has proposed.
Western Civilization's Industrious nature: - America quest during the Cold War was to preserve capitalism. Being unwilling to lose a potential trading partner in South Korea, who went on to be part of the East Asian Miracle, America held off the Northern Koreans' efforts to unite the country.
East Asian Civilization's tendency to being heavily influenced by world powers - The East Asians are constantly being changed by external forces. A Korean state was separated by nothing except a barrier of ideology. Koreans were not able to combat the world powers in Soviet Union, China, and USA, to protect their people's unity.