North Korea – South Korea

Causes and Consequences of the Conflict North and South Korea

Almost every country around the world has gone through either internal or external conflict. Some of the conflicts have been the most useful platforms for reconciliations. Meaningful reconciliatory talks have led to magnificent developments in the countries that had huge war problems. Equally, some other countries have continued to stay behind because of the never-ending wars. The consequences of these wars are deaths, tensions, and poor cross-border relations. The paper will take an in-depth study of the North and South Korean wars. The Korean wars are primarily political, diplomatic, and military correlations between the two countries following the division of the larger Korea after World War II (Blum, 2003). The conflict between the two nations is a historical issue.

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Primarily, the Korean wars can be perceived as wars of conquest and a show of superiority, and there have been many attempts to call for unification. Firstly, the paper takes a significant overview of the events that have led to the division of Korea. From the year 1910, the Korean Peninsula was under the control of the Japanese government (Shambaugh, 2008). In the year 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan in agreement with the United States and occupied the Northern part of Korea. After the occupation of the Southern part of Korea by the United States, the forces of Japan surrendered (Pinkston, 2003).

In the year 1948, two separate governments were set up in Korea (Lee & Kim, 2007). Both governments claimed they were the legitimate government of Korea, and none of them accepted the permanency of the border between them. However, there was an escalation of the conflict into open warfare. South Korea was invaded on June 25, 1950, by North Korea that was supported by the Soviet Union and China (Shambaugh, 2008).

In the year 1949, South Korean forces that participated in the active communist guerrilla warfare in the South had been reduced from 5,000 to 1,000, but still, Kim II-sung doubted the strength of South Korea (Blum, 2003). Since he wanted to unify the Korean nation, he garnered support to launch an invasion of South Korea from China and the Soviet Union and to terminate the appearance of Syngman Rhee’s democracy through the removal of those who supported it. Therefore, the North Korean troops armed with the ammunition from the Soviet Union crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea on June 25, 1950 (Pinkston, 2003).

The different ideas of the United States and the Soviet Union also played a major role in the start of the Korean War. The Soviets had an interest in expanding their influence of communism into Korea, while the United States wanted the establishment of democracy. More to say, Americans stressed on the importance of containment – a foreign policy usually used for the prevention of communism spreading; therefore, the disagreement would eventually lead to the Korean War. This was the first cold war even fought between the Soviet Union and the United States as two rivaling superpowers engaged in a major proxy war. A proxy is where one or more opposing parties fuels a war but uses third parties to fight instead of them (Lee & Kim, 2007).

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The lack of efficient strategy of the United States and its affiliated forces during the onset of the war also played a role in the starting of the war. The early engagements were negligible; hence, they could not help in stopping the war. The southern alliance military forces found the terrain and weather so difficult that they could not conduct the operations (Shambaugh, 2008). Moreover, the improperly trained and poorly led the South Korean army also decreased the chances of curbing the invasion of the North Korean Army that successfully captured Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The successful crossing into North Korea by MacArthur in November and pushing his army to River Yalu, which was the border of North Korea and China, were a fatal mistake. China as a nation entered the war and allied with North Korea since they saw MacArthur’s move as an overly aggressive one. It led to the confrontation of the Chinese and American forces that sided differently with the parties involved in the Korean War (Rothe & Mullins, 2011).

After the end of the war, the Korean nations were left scarred. Both Korean nations suffered massive economic and infrastructural damage due to the bombings, artillery strikes, loss of skilled workers, and other socioeconomic effects. With the help of the United States, the divided nations were able to industrialize and modernize. Both South and North Korea were the first wars, in which the United Nations participated. It proved the strength of the United Nations as an organization as well as control worldwide (Lee & Kim, 2007). It played an important role in maintaining peace. It can still be seen by the presence of the command in South Korea, which is still functional to date. Moreover, the aftermath of the Korean War set the tone for the start of the Cold War tension between the superpowers. The United States and the USSR were shown to fight in a limited, proxy war in the third country. The strategy of the limited war is also seen to feature in the wars in Afghanistan, Greece, Angola, and wars in the Middle East recently as seen in Syria (Rothe & Mullins, 2011).

The Role of the States

The Australian troops participated in Operation Commando, and this attack on the Chinese held a position in a bend of the Imjin River. This river near Seoul runs north-south and crosses the 38th parallel. This attack started on October 3, 1951, lasting for five days, after which the Chinese troops withdrew after heavy fighting. The Australians brought more troops to strengthen the Korean nation even though other nations were less willing to do so. The Australian troops also remained in Korea for four years after the end of the war as military observers. It helped Australia to gain security and political benefits (Criger, 2011).

Canada sent over 28,000 troops to the war, with more than 6,000 supervising the ceasefire, including brigade troops, eight naval vessels, and 22 pilots (Rothe & Mullins, 2011). The Canadian ships were used in the evacuation at the assault at Lincoln. They also helped in the blockade in the waters of North Korea and the protection of the coastal villages from attack. Japanese majorly participated in the provision of goods. Over $3.5 billion was spent majorly on companies from Japan, reaching $809 million in 1953, and this helped the Zaibatsu from being distrusted to being encouraged (Lee & Kim, 2007). This participation in the war truly helped the Japanese industry to grow by almost 51% between 1950 and 1951. Furthermore, Japan acted as a refugee home for over 390,000 Koreans who fled during the war. The Japanese authorities provided them with the necessary paperwork and allowed them to live legally in Japan (Rothe & Mullins, 2011).

By entering the war, the People’s Republic of China kept its original goal of not allowing North Korea to fail. This was achieved through the prevention of South Korea and the United States from establishing a presence on the Manchurian border. Turkey had a paramount influence in the United Nations Alliance by committing nearly 5,500 troops. Their major participation was the assistance in the protection of supply lines of United Nations forces that advanced towards North Korea (Blum, 2003). However, sending the Turkish forces to Korea was a controversial topic in the Turkish state. It earned Turkey respect in the west, although it was the start of the clashes over the Eastern block and criticism of the prime minister for sending troops without the parliament approval.

The Soviet Union played a significant role in the Korean conflict; it provided material and medical services, aircraft, and pilots. Along with the Eastern bloc countries, the USSR sent over 20 doctors to Korea to aid the communist forces (Criger, 2011). The Soviet military aid also played a role in the equipping of the North Korean and the Chinese armies. The Soviet PPSH-41 was widely supplied to armies and was of greater importance during the initial offensive since the United States armor or anti-tank rockets could penetrate its armor. The United States feared the Soviet Union’s intention of exporting communism to other nations; thus, America centered its foreign policy on the communist containment both at home and abroad. The entry of the United States signaled a reversal of conflict policy towards North Korea (Pinkston, 2003).

Role of Economic and Social Institutions

The Japanese companies played a role in the provision of products for the American troops. The American requirements for procurement were structured in such a manner that it was a special Procurement System. Over $3.5billion was spent on purchases from Japanese companies (Rothe & Mullins, 2011). This helped the Japanese manufacturers to grow and made Japan’s economy profit greatly from the war. The Soviet Union, the United States, and the other countries participating in the war sent in medical professionals in the aiding of treatment of their soldiers in the war zone. This was important, as the soldiers were able to receive medical attention in case of injury on the battlefield. The United Nations also provided social amenities for the people and soldiers in the war-stricken areas (Lee & Kim, 2007).

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Role of Powerful Individuals

Kim II-sung

Kim II-sung was the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea Prime Minister, Worker’s Party of Korea Chairman, and the North Korean People’s Army commander during the Korean War (Pinkston, 2003). He was the one who initiated the invasion of South Korea by North Korea and Soviet backers; he also had the idea of uniting his country. Kim’s influence dropped because of the following reasons. One, he was invaded and defeated in 1950 by the UN offensive forces. Secondly, there was the arrival of the Chinese People’s Volunteer’s Army (Criger, 2011).

Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin

Mao Zedong had a great influence on Chinese participation in the war in Korea. He was the initiator of the Chinese Communist Party, and thereafter, he chaired the People’s Republic of China after the party had won in the Chinese revolution (Shambaugh, 2008). He joined hands with Kim Il-sung and Josef Stalin and assisted Kim in arranging another combat. He sent three operational infantry divisions to North Korea. The infantries had battled with the Chinese communists at the time of the revolution. The two leaders met in Moscow in 1949 when they agreed to provide support technically and financially for the invasion. In addition, Stalin supported Soviet soldiers, some of whom got killed in the innovation. Invading another country is a criminal act. Most scholars have also pointed out the case of the invasion of Iraq by America and its allies (Rothe & Mullins, 2011).


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Structural Violence

The Korean nation and participating allies were hit by resentments during the war, where social structures prevented some groups of the Korean population from accessing basic human rights like education and healthcare. Hunger and poverty are magnificent examples of what is known as “Structural Violence” – physical and psychological harm that results from exploitative and unjust social, political, and economic systems during the war. This can be attributed to the parties of interest during the war (Blum, 2003).


In summary, the Korean War has helped to shape the future of the world in understanding the benefits of staying in a peaceful environment. It also helped improve the technological advancement in the industrial sector. Some of the most profound scholars also affirm that the principle of law and competitive equality and the free markets have had far-reaching consequences to humans by creating irreducible ends in themselves. War crimes are issues that have to be resolved in a proper manner for a peaceful existence in the future.


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