How much do you know about the Korean War? Most people have basic information, but there’s a good reason it’s remembered as “The Forgotten War.” This is because it is one of the least talked about wars in American history. However, it lasted for three years and resulted in the deaths of more than 34,000 US soldiers.
It was completely overshadowed by World War II and the Vietnam War, and there are many dark secrets surrounding this war that most people simply don’t know about.
Related: Top 10 Fascinating Facts About North Korea
10 20% of the North Korean population died during the war
In the early 1950s, the United States dropped 635,000 tons of bombs and 32,557 tons of napalm on North Korea. It was considered an overwhelming attack that would leave North Korea without industries or cities standing. In fact, the goal was to make North Korea a desert that would not allow life.
The intense bombing campaign was authorized by US President Harry Truman and carried out by General Curtis Le May. According to Le May, the bombings were so severe that 20% of the North Korean population died.
The bombs destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and killed millions of civilians. The plan was to leave North Korean territory with no chance to resupply, establish industries or grow farms, and the United States almost succeeded.
In addition to the physical destruction, the bombings also caused psychological damage that has lasted for generations. Today, the North Korean government still instills fear in the population with the memory of the US attacks. That has allowed the North Korean government to remain so strong after more than seven decades.
9 The United States was about to bomb China and North Korea
At the outbreak of the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur was appointed commander of the United Nations forces. He was a highly decorated general who had served in World War II with the highest possible achievements and honors.
He was known for his aggressive tactics and willingness to use any means necessary to win. In September 1950, MacArthur launched a daring offensive that pushed the North Korean army back across the 38th parallel. As UN forces advanced, MacArthur began to consider the use of atomic bombs to end the war and prevent it from spreading. China will get more involved.
The plan was to drop atomic bombs on China and North Korea and discourage communist governments from participating in the war. It would have changed history completely, and China may not be much of a world power today. However, President Truman opposed it. He believed that the use of atomic weapons would set a dangerous precedent, and he was not willing to risk a full-scale war with China.
As a result, Truman relieved MacArthur of his command in April 1951. While MacArthur’s actions during the Korean War were controversial, his aggressive tactics helped turn the tide of the war in favor of UN forces.
8 The shelling only stopped when there was nothing left to destroy
One of the most brutal aspects of the war was the widespread use of bombing. Entire villages were destroyed and often civilians were killed. And the shelling continued until there was nothing left to destroy.
The most impressive thing is that almost all the buildings in North Korea were destroyed. Since then, the country has struggled to rebuild its cities. The process has been slow and difficult, hampered by a lack of resources and international sanctions.
7 South Korea killed all suspected communists
During the war, South Korea killed all suspected communists. The massacre occurred after a group of North Korean soldiers crossed the 38th parallel and attacked South Korea.
The communists withdrew with the entry of the United States into the war. But, the trauma remained. During this period when North Korea took over South Korea, many people collaborated with the communist government in addition to being communist sympathizers.
In response, the South Korean government formed a paramilitary group made up of right-wing extremists that managed to kill as many communists as possible.
The group carried out a series of mass executions, killing an estimated 100,000 people in South Korea suspected of supporting the communist North. Most of the victims were innocent civilians who had no connection to the North Korean regime but likely supported North Korean troops when they invaded South Korea.
The massacre was a pivotal moment in the Korean War and remains one of the most brutal episodes in recent history. Incidentally, the United States was also involved in some massacres against North Korean civilians.
6 Seoul was a communist city for a few months
Seoul was a communist city when it was captured by North Korea. It remained under communist control until the United States began bombing North Korean forces. After a successful counter-attack by United Nations forces, the city was retaken only a few months later.
However, this left an unforgettable impression on the people of Seoul. Had it not been for the help of the United States, the entire peninsula would have been under communist control, and even Seoul would have been under Pyongyang control quite easily.
5 The Korean War Isn’t Over Yet
Many people think that the Korean War ended in 1953 with the signing of the armistice agreement. However, the war is not technically over.
The war ended in a stalemate, with no clear winner. The armistice simply ended the fighting, and a peace treaty has never been signed. As a result, North Korea and South Korea are still technically at war. And US troops remain stationed in South Korea as a deterrent against further aggression from the North.
While a resumption of full-scale hostilities is unlikely, the situation on the Korean peninsula remains tense and any small incident could spark further violence. As long as a peace treaty has not been signed, the Korean War will remain a part of our world.
4 Frostbite was a great enemy of the US troops
For soldiers in the Korean War, frostbite was a very real threat. Temperatures in Korea during winter can drop well below freezing, and soldiers were often ill-equipped to deal with the cold weather.
The combination of extremely cold temperatures and inadequate clothing led to numerous cases of frostbite, especially among those who were injured or had to spend extended periods outdoors. In some cases, soldiers had to be evacuated from the front line due to frostbite. In others, amputation was the only way to save their lives.
In the end, 30,000 people were injured or completely disabled. Many soldiers lost fingers, toes, or even entire limbs due to the extreme cold on the Korean peninsula.
3 Countries on all continents participated in the Korean War
The Korean War quickly escalated into a full-scale global war involving China, the United States, and several other countries on every continent, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and the United Kingdom, among others.
However, the conflict was quite bloody, and all this international support did not stop the communists from advancing. The United Nations lost some 40,000 soldiers during the conflict, not counting the millions killed in North Korea during those three years of war.
2 The Korean War strengthened Kim’s power
Kim Il-sung was the grandfather of Kim Jong-un. He used propaganda to present himself as a heroic leader who defended the country from the aggression of the United States and its allies. He ended up as the founding father of North Korea due to the resentment that the war generated among the North Korean population.
Everyone in North Korea lost a loved one. They lost their homes and way of life during the war, allowing a charismatic leader like Kim Il-sung to establish his own dynasty.
Furthermore, the war gave Kim Il-sung an excuse to purge his opponents and consolidate his control over the country.
1 A proxy war between the US and the Soviet Union
In addition to being a war between South Korea and North Korea, it was also a proxy war between the United States and the Soviet Union. And this brief conflict would usher in the decades of the Cold War.
The United States supported South Korea, while the Soviet Union supported North Korea. Both powers were present in the war, although the Soviet Union played a more logistical role and provided weapons to hinder the actions of the United States.
For the Soviet Union, the goal of this war was to keep the United States involved in wars to prevent another conflict in Europe that directly threatened the Soviet Union.
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