Korean War

Photo above: One trooper represented in the Korean War Memorial, Washington, D.C., Carol Highsmith Archives, Library of Congress.

Korean War

A remnant from World War II when the Soviet Union, in 1945, wrested control of the Korean peninsula from Japanese control north of the 38th parallel with the United States in the south. By 1948, with Cold War tensions rampant, the peninsula was separated into two halves, North and South, with separate governments that considered the whole as part of their territory. On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, prompting the United Nations to declare the invasion and the United States, with their allies, into conflict against the North, China, and the Soviet Union. The conflict would last for three years. The problem of a divided Korean peninsula still exists today.



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  • Korean War - Quick Battle Timeline 1951

    Korean War

    Leading into 1951

    The Third Battle for Seoul had begun on the final day of 1950, an attempt by China, new in the war as of fall 1950, to push past the 38th parallel after their successes in the First and Second Phase Campaigns that had pushed the South Korean and United Nations troops out of North Korea and back below it. China had rebuffed the United Nations attempt at a ceasefire in December and were now determined to take those gains and solidify them by capturing Seoul again.

    December 31, 1950 - January 7, 1951 - Third Battle of Seoul
    Troops: USA/UK/Canada 148,794 plus unknown number of South Korean troops; North Korea/China 170,000.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 790; North Korea/China 8,500.
    Chinese army attacks the 38th parallel, breaching United Nations troop positions, and causing them to evacuate. Chinese take control of Seoul, although their victory and decision mobilizes U.N. initiative and becomes strategic failure.

    February 20 to March 6, 1951 - Operation Killer
    Troops: USA/South Korea/UK/Australia/Canada/New Zealand NA; China/North Korea NA.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 980; China/North Korea 9,288 plus 208 captured.
    Operation south of the Arizona line, Yangpyoeng to Hoengsong, that followed Operation Roundup, the first counter offensive against the China and North Korean forces that had taken Seoul and stretched their logistics. United Nations victory that only partially achieved its objective of destroying the enemy below the line.

    March 7 to April 4, 1951 - Fourth Battle of Seoul
    Troops: USA/South Korea/UK/Australia/Canada/New Zealand/Philippines NA; China/North Korea NA.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 3,786; China/North Korea NA (thousands).
    Known as Operation Ripper under the command of General Ridgway to remove Chinese and North Korean troops from Seoul, Chuncheon, and points south of the 38th parallel. Preceded by the largest bombardment of the Korean War, the campaign achieved its objective of removing enemy troops to the parallel and recapturing Seoul, but did not destroy Chinese forces and equipment. At this time, the population of Seoul was down to 200,000 from its pre-war total of 1,500,000.

    April 22-25, 1951 - Battle of the Imjin River
    Troops: USA/South Korea/UK/Australia/Canada/New Zealand/Philippines/Belgium/Luxembourg 3,000; China 27,000.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 1,377 including captured; China 10-15,000.
    Chinese attempt, with superior forces, to break through the United Nations line at the Imjin River and recapture Seoul. Ferocious battle for three days that blunted, along with the Battle of Kapyong, the Chinese Spring offensive.

    April 22-25, 1951 - Battle of Kapyong
    Troops: USA/South Korea/UK/Australia/Canada/New Zealand 1 brigade; China 1 division.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 146; China 1,000.
    United Nations forces led by the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade, and including the U.S. Fifth Cavalry, blocks the Chinese Spring Offensive from moving south. Considered the most famous action of Australian and Canadian troops in the war.


    August 18 to September 5, 1951 - Battle of Bloody Ridge
    Troops: USA/South Korea/Philippines 1 division, 1 regiment; China/North Korea 15,000.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 2,700; China/North Korea 15,000, including 7,000 wounded.
    Considered the first battle of the stalemate after the Chinese Spring Offensive had been rebuffed and an armistance was being negotiated. Battle in the mountains north of the 38th parallel saw attacks and counterattacks by both sides until United Nation forces outflanked the North Korean soldiers, causing their retreat.

    August 31 to September 21, 1951 - Battle of the Punchbowl
    Troops: USA/South Korea 30,000; North Korea 40,000.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/South Korea 1,232; North Korea 7,081.
    Short United Nations offensive after armistance talks broke down in August to gain better defensive lines near Haean. Tactical United Nations victory, although all hills desired to be captured were not achieved.

    September 13 to October 15, 1951 - Battle of Heartbreak Ridge
    Troops: USA/South Korea/France/Philippines/Netherlands NA; North Korea/China NA.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 3,700; China 25,000.
    Battle for hills seven miles north of Bloody Ridge devolves into mistaken assault by United Nations troops up heavily fortified slopes. Month long attempt changes tactics to secure valleys around ridge and prevent reinforcements, leading to United Nations victory.

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    Full Text, Resolution 498 on 1 February, 1951, of the United Nations General Assembly, Intervention of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China in Korea


    The General Assembly, Noting that the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, has failed to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in regard to Chinese Communist intervention in Korea.

    Noting that the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China has not accepted United Nations proposals to bring about a cessation of hostilities in Korea with a view to peaceful settlement, and that its armed forces continue their invasion of Korea and their large-scale attacks upon United Nations forces there,

    1. Finds that the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China, by giving direct aid and assistance to those who were already committing aggression in Korea and by engaging in hostilities against United Nations forces there, has itself engaged in aggression in Korea;

    2. Calls upon the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China to cause its forces and nationals in Korea to cease hostilities against the United Nations forces and to withdraw from Korea;

    3. Affirms the determination of the United Nations to continue its action in Korea to meet the aggression;

    4. Calls upon all States and authorities to continue to lend every assistance to the United Nations action in Korea;

    5. Calls upon all States and authorities to refrain from giving any assistance to the aggressors in Korea;

    6. Requests a Committee composed of the members of the Collective Measures Committee as a matter of urgency to consider additional measures to be employed to meet this aggression and to report thereon to the General Assembly,3 it being understood that the Committee is authorized to defer its report if the Good Offices Committee referred to in the following paragraph reports satisfactory progress in its efforts;

    7. Affirms that it continues to be the policy of the United Nations to bring about a cessation of hostilities in Korea and the achievement of United Nations objectives in Korea by peaceful means, and requests the President of the General Assembly to designate forthwith two persons who would meet with him at any suitable opportunity to use their good offices to this end.

    This resolution was adopted at the 327th plenary meeting of the General Assembly by a vote of 44 in favor, to 7 opposed, with 9 abstentions. The countries opposing were the same as those who had opposed during the vote in the First Committee on January 30; those abstaining were also the same with the addition of Saudi Arabia, whose delegate entered for the record a statement that his abstention indicated non-participation in the voting. (U.N. document A/PV.327)

    On the preceding day, the Security Council had unanimously adopted a resolution (S/1995) proposed by the British Delegate calling for removal from its agenda of the item "Complaint of aggression against the Republic of Korea". The Soviet Delegate voted in favor on the grounds that this item had originally been included on the agenda illegally during the absence of the Soviet and Chinese (Communist) Representatives. (U.N. document S/PV.531)

    For documentation relating to the work and conclusions of the Additional Measures Committee, see pp. 1874 ff. On May 18, 1951, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 500 (V) calling for a strategic embargo against the two countries; for text, see p. 1988.

    Prior to the vote on the resolution as a whole, a separate vote was taken on this paragraph at the request of the Representative of Israel. The paragraph was approved by a vote of 43 to 7, with 8 abstentions. (A/PV.327)

    Photo above: Men of the 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division near the Hantan River, April 11, 1951. Courtesy U.S. Army Signal Corps, Library of Congress. Data source, including casualty amounts: United Nations Official Documents; Office of the Historian of the U.S. Department of State; Wikipedia Commons; London Telegraph.




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