Armed Hostilities

Asian Studies: Why and How Did the US Get Involved in the Korean War?


The Korean War has been labeled as one of the most significant occurrences after the end of the Second World War. In fact, 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 lost their lives or disappeared completely. There was equally 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 8700 factory establishments while the south incurred almost twice this loss. People were left homeless and in a state of hopelessness. This research paper seeks to establish the reasons behind U.S involvement in the Korean War as well as the course of the actual war.

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The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Japan, and the Peoples Republic of China had very close ties with Korea and her counterpart Manchuria. This was way back in the 19th century. The cordial relationship made the Soviet Union have a desire to conquer Korea owing to the fact that 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 pursued a communist ideology.

The Centre Stage of the War

As the Cold War was taking shape and gathering momentum, there were two major concerns that were destabilizing the British-American warm relations namely prisoners who had been victims of war as well as the Indian declaration (Cotton 116). Nevertheless, the Korean War equally erupted with Britain supporting the United States. This was on 25th June 1950. In fact, 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 own 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 own troops alongside a few allies in the pretext of maintaining peace as put forward by Truman (Reiter 86). 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, the U.S did not react substantially even as Eastern Europe became a victim of the iron curtain policy. As a consequence, the United States changed its foreign policy, especially in regard to the Cold War.

South 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 America worked towards heightening its military power and arms ability. This was estimated to have grown up to four times the initial level. It marked the relentless pursuit for military and weaponry supremacy that would culminate in the intriguing cold war. Truman leadership indeed perfected the art of arms race when his leadership argued that the intended attack on South Korea would be compared to the aggressions of the Second World War (Park 253). This became a very strong reason for U.S involvement in the war.

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 in regard to 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. The U.S military troops worked 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.

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Another remarkable impact of the Korean War was seen in the manner Vietnam War was fought (Paige xvi). 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 to 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. In spite of the dramatic events and happenings of the Korean War, the key actors and policy makers did not change much in terms of their tactics. In other words, less was learnt from the Korean War even as the Vietnam atrocities broke out in the 1960s. The same mistakes were repeated. The present day alliance between South Korea and United States of America is an impact that resulted from the war. For instance, U.S military bases are well established in Southern Korea today in addition to a mutual defense treaty. Moreover, the stamping of U.S authority and its total presence in South Korea led to the inevitable spread of American culture (Jenkins & Frederick 130). The military bases established radio stations which 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. The United States of America mainly got involved in the War as a way of stamping its superpower authority overseas.


Cotton, James, and Neary, Ian. “The Korean War in History.” Manchester; Manchester University Press, 1989.

Jenkins, Charles, and Frederick, Jim. “The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea.” California; University of California Press, 2008.

Paige Glenn. “1950: Truman’s decision: The United States enters the Korean.” England; Chelsea House Publishers, 1970.

Park Hong-Kyu. “America Involvement in the Korean War.” Society for History Education, 1983. 16(2); 249-263.

Reiter Dan. “How Wars End.” New Jersey; Princeton University Press, 2009.

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