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The Korean War

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.

The Forgotten War

The Korean War is called "The Forgotten War." It began when North Korea launched an unprovoked attack into South Korea in June, 1950. The United States rushed in to defend freedom and democracy. The Americans were fighting a force that wanted to overthrow the world—Socialism.

Korea was the worst possible place for America to go to war. The war was not fought by America for territory, but for psychological reasons: the enemies of liberty had crossed a line in the sand.

Japan had conquered Korea in 1895. For fifty years Korea had lived under brutal occupation by the Japanese.

Korea was divided at the end of World War Two. American and Soviet governments agreed on a line at the 38th Parallel to divide North from South. North Korea was industrial; South Korea was agricultural. By 1948, separate regimes had appeared in the two sectors and foreign troops had been withdrawn. North Korea was to be a socialist nation; South Korea to be a capitalist democracy.



Korea Before the War

South Korea was at first governed by the existing Japanese colonial administration. America then turned it over to South Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese. Neither of these arrangements pleased the South Korean people.

Eventually, America backed a government headed by Syngman Rhee, whose main appeal was that he had spent most of his life in exile in the United States. More importantly, he had never collaborated with the Japanese, and he was fervently anti-communist. General Douglas MacArthur told Rhee: "If Korea should ever be attacked by the Communists, I will defend it as I would California."

All of Korea suffered from a lack of basic amenities. Its climate boasts horrific heat in the summer, and unbearable cold in the winter. The air smelled of human fecal matter—night soil it was called—what Koreans used for fertilizer.

The South was led by an unloved government backed by a ragtag army. The North was led by a tough dictatorship with a strong, well-trained, well-armed military force



The Start of the Korean War

In the spring of 1950, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin gave Kim Il-Sung, the dictator of Socialist North Korea, the green light to invade free South Korea. Stalin was blocked from Japan—which he wanted to make a Communist satellite—by General MacArthur after World War II. The rapid prosperity of a free Japan was a threat to Communist expansion in Asia. Stalin therefore felt he must control all of Korea.

Kim Il-Sung described himself as "the respected and beloved leader" as "a great thinker and theoretician" "who has worked countless legendary miracles" and a "matchless iron-willed brilliant commander who is ever-victorious" as well as "the tender-hearted father of the people."

Kim Il-Sung was the son of a schoolteacher. He had joined the Communist guerrillas and fought against the Japanese as a teenager, eventually becoming their commander. Stalin had personally awarded him the Order of Lenin.

At first Kim Il-Sung was popular in North Korea. Soon the harshness and cruelty of his rule became apparent. The Soviets helped him create an army of 135,000 men, and gave him 135 T-34 tanks.



Korean War Death Toll

The Korean War exacted a combat death toll of a million Koreans; 250,000 Chinese; and 33,000 Americans. Another 20,000 soldiers from the United States died from disease, frostbite, and accidents. America brought home 109,000 wounded men. And its treasury was light by $54B. Only half of the 7,000 American POWs taken were ever repatriated.

The 2nd Battalion of South Korea was attacked first and never heard from again. The North Koreans took Seoul, the capital of South Korea, in four days. They destroyed Seoul. The South Korean Army broke and ran.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, was stunned by the audacity of the Communist offensive. When President Truman was told about the invasion, he said, "We've got to stop the sons-of-bitches no matter what."

General MacArthur, the Supreme Commander overseeing the spectacular rebuilding of Japan, was sent to Korea. He landed twenty miles south of Seoul in June and was shocked to see the South Korean Army running past him. He said: "I did not see a wounded man among them."

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Reaction to Socialist Aggression

President Truman believed the attack on South Korea would be followed by an attack on Japan. Wanting the "moral authority" of the United Nations, he sought and obtained their authorization to defend free South Korea. Truman said: "We are going to fight! By God I am not going to let them have it."

Even General Omar Bradley, as cool a customer as you will find, was outraged by the attack on South Korea by the Communists.

Chiang Kai-shek offered to send 33,000 Chinese Nationalist troops from Taiwan to Korea, but Truman declined that offer. 14 countries sent troops under the banner of the United Nations to fight the Communist aggression. Britain and Turkey sent the most, besides the United States.

President Truman ordered American forces to go and save South Korea from communist aggression. Our ground forces were seriously undermanned; reserves had to be called up. The Soviets were shocked that America would intervene. Truman did not call it a war. He called it a "police action."

America first sent Task Force Smith, a force of 406 men. Smith and his men took the forward defensive position and were startled to see a column of Russian tanks advancing towards them. Smith's men had only rifles, mortars, and bazookas—none of which could penetrate the T-34 tank. They were quickly outgunned, outnumbered, and surrounded. 40 percent of them were lost in that first confrontation.

General William Dean won the Medal of Honor for his actions defending Taejon. He was the highest ranking officer captured by North Korea; they held him prisoner until the war was over.





The First Week Does Not Go Well for America

The first week America suffered 2,400 deaths. Washington was horrified. Within three weeks, over half of our 16,000 troops were dead or wounded. It was an enormous psychological victory for the Communists.

The first two American Army divisions sent over, the 24th and 25th, were driven back nearly into the sea. America then sent over 92 National Guard Units, and the entire Marine Reserve and put them on the front line. The United States Army was not prepared for battle in Korea, with its winter of -40 degree temperatures. American soldiers had no winter clothes or boots; they had old equipment; they were not properly trained.

America's best fighting men from World War II had rightfully returned home. Its military equipment and weapons, discarded with the demobilization from that terrible conflict, were worn out and not replaced. By 1950, the United States Army had shrunk to 591,000 men—an army which Omar Bradley said could not "fight its way out of a paper bag."

American troops stationed in Japan had grown soft from easy duty. According to General Dean they were "fat and happy in occupation billets, complete with Japanese girlfriends, plenty of beer, and servants to shine their boots."

These were not the battle-hardened troops who had fought their way across the Pacific. Less than one of six had ever seen combat. Most had been recruited from small-town America into the army by promises of seeing the world. "They had enlisted for every reason known to man except to fight," said one American commander.



The Socialist Army of Aggression

The North Korean Army consisted of tough peasants who were exceptionally disciplined. Their officer corps of 20,000 had served in the Red Chinese Army until 1950 and was battle-hardened.

The North Korean soldiers moved well over rugged terrain. The Americans stuck to established roads; they did not. The North Koreans preferred to attack at night, to minimize the American's decisive advantage in artillery and aviation. They sought to engage the American soldiers in close combat, to which they were unaccustomed. You can't bomb a mixed battlefield.

The initial attack on South Korea was led by a hundred Soviet tanks with 90,000 North Korean troops. The South Koreans had no tanks, artillery, or aircraft. They fled the battlefield, and were chased all the way to the southeast corner of their country to Pusan. They suffered 50,000 casualties the first month.






General Douglas MacArthur hatched a brilliant battle plan. Instead of starting at the bottom of the Korean Peninsula, American troops would make an amphibious landing halfway up the west side of Korea at Inchon, 25 miles from Seoul. They would cut off the North Korean Army—already running low on fuel, ammunition, and men—from their home base and supplies.

No other military leaders agreed with MacArthur. The Navy thought Inchon an impossible place to land troops because it had no beach, and the tides were some of the highest in the world.

13,000 Marines landed at Inchon in September, 1950. They took that city with only 21 men killed. The Marines recaptured Seoul nine days later. It was a complete surprise to the communists. The rout was on.

Meanwhile, the United Nations force drove northward from Pusan. Half of the North Korean Army was captured, and the rest escaped back into North Korea.

General MacArthur had made quick work of the North Koreans. He recaptured South Korea in only 90 days. MacArthur then proceeded all the way up to the border of China. It was a rapid and total victory. The United States now occupied North Korea.

The great advantage the Americans held was military intelligence. Secret codes were broken within a day, unveiling enemy battle plans. But by August, 6,000 Americans were listed as dead. The North Koreans had 58,000 dead, including their best troops. South Korea and its allies now faced green conscripts, not their elite soldiers. Their Soviet tanks had been reduced from 135 to 40.



The Truman-MacArthur Dispute

Soon there erupted the bitter controversy between President Truman and General MacArthur. Truman wanted immediate peace with the original border—the 38th parallel—recognized by both sides. MacArthur did not agree, since he already occupied North Korea all the way to the border of China. His greatest desire was to rid the world of communism once and for all by attacking China and Russia.

MacArthur disobeyed Truman's orders and launched an air attack on a Russian air base inside Russian territory. MacArthur wanted to bomb industrial targets in China, blockade its coastline, and support an invasion of the Chinese mainland by Taiwan (Formosa).

Stalin asked China to attack the Americans, and the Chinese responded by attacking with 720,000 men in October, 1950. They drove the Americans out of North Korea. MacArthur was soon relieved of his duty as a result of insubordination to his Commander-In-Chief.

The first American Army company attacked by the Chinese Army lost 240 of its 250 men. America apparently believed that the Chinese would not fight against them. After the American victories at Inchon and Seoul, the Chinese attacked them with such overwhelming numbers that they often surrounded American troops on three sides in battle. The 1st Marine Division was trapped at Chosin. Of the 4,000 Marines killed in Korea, 3,000 of them died at Chosin.







The Red Chinese Army

The United States and the rest of the world underestimated the insanely aggressive nature of Red China. As the world averted its gaze to Korea, China swallowed up Tibet. They then turned to North Korea to apply their war experience to the invasion of South Korea.

The Chinese Army was rudimentary; it moved on foot and lacked even simple modern communication systems. Their attacks were coordinated with bugles. Chinese soldiers were experts at camouflage and were trained not to move if an aircraft was overhead. They were experienced fighters and extremely tough men.

American troops carried sixty pound backpacks. The Chinese backpack weighed nine pounds: a weapon, a grenade, eighty rounds of ammunition, a tiny bit of fish and meat, and a week's supply of rice. The Red Army marched 286 miles in 18 days to reach the border of North Korea and engage in their first battle.

The Chinese respected the American fighting man. His weakness, they thought, was a tendency to panic when fighting on defense at night. Americans were unused to fighting after sunset, and would ultimately flee the area, leaving behind weaponry the Red Army didn't have and could surely use.

The Red Army would attack in human waves that seemingly had no end. Mowed down by American machine guns, they fell in such large numbers that it made the machine gunners sick—but the Chinese kept coming.

The first full attack featured 27,000 soldiers of the Red Army that attacked the Eighth Calvary Regiment—4,000 men. It was a devastating defeat for the Americans, who suffered six hundred dead.

300,000 North Korean civilians fled the communist onslaught. The Americans then evacuated 100,000 soldiers out of North Korea by sea from Hungnam, with all their supplies and equipment—something that had never been done before.



Tragic Mistake by General MacArthur

Uncharacteristically, MacArthur had made a tragic mistake. He had promised Truman that the Red Army would never enter Korea, but if they did we would cut them to pieces. All of this also indicated a massive failure on the part of American Intelligence, since they knew nothing of this enormous army headed towards their troops until contact was made.

MacArthur continued to be foolish, vainglorious, and arrogant. In November he issued a public communiqué boasting about an attack he was about to make. The Chinese thus knew about the attack far in advance, and the communiqué also revealed that MacArthur had underestimated the size of the army he was about to attack by 90 percent.

The weather was terrible; it was a dark November night. Men had to piss on their frozen rifles to thaw them out. Batteries froze, disabling trucks and jeeps. As the Americans marched on a thin, icy road through a narrow valley, Chinese troops rained murderous fire upon them from above. The men panicked, and they ran away—leaving behind their heavy equipment.



American Retreat

The American soldiers were in desperate distress. This was an epic disaster. The main question was how much of the First Marines and the 2nd Infantry Division could get out alive. MacArthur had been outgeneraled.

To retreat, the Americans would have to run a six mile gauntlet with machine gun fire pouring down on them all the way. Everywhere were men dead and dying. The only road was clogged with the wreckage of American vehicles. The 2nd Division lost a third of its men in just a few days: 3,000 dead; 2,000 wounded. Not only was the battle lost, but it proved to be a psychological defeat as well.

December 15, 1950, President Truman declared a state of national emergency.





The Korean War Veterans

The Chinese retook Seoul; the UN forces took it back. The fighting had ended up where it began: the 38th Parallel.

One out of nine American soldiers who served in Korea were killed. But the Chinese suffered 100 men killed for each of our soldiers dead.

The MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals) units were great—they saved thousands of soldiers' lives. Korea was the first war in which we evacuated the wounded by helicopter—something now practiced in civilian life for victims of traffic accidents.

As casualties mounted, so did the number of the American public that withdrew their support of the war in Korea. This was the first war America did not win; though they did stop the intrusion of communist aggression.

When veterans of the Korean War returned home, they were the first soldiers in American history not to be greeted as conquering heroes. Some people treated them as if they had done something wrong. Others simply did not appreciate the sacrifice they had made.

Jet aircraft came of age in Korea. John Glenn and Ted Williams flew combat missions together—Ted was John's wingman in F86 fighters. The Chinese had 900 Soviet MIGS. Many of them were flown by Soviet pilots in Chinese uniforms.



General MacArthur Fired

General Douglas MacArthur knew that President Truman was about to announce his desire for a cease-fire. MacArthur declared to the world that if Truman had not been restricting him, he would have whipped the snot out of the Chinese and had them begging for mercy. "There is no substitute for victory."

Thus he had grossly insulted the Chinese Army and his commander in chief in one fell swoop.

Why did MacArthur do this? General Bradley explains:

"His legendary pride had been hurt. The Red Chinese had made a fool out of the 'infallible genius.' The only possible means left to MacArthur to regain his lost pride and military reputation was now to inflict an overwhelming defeat on those Red Chinese generals who had made a fool of him. In order to do this he was perfectly willing to propel us into all-out war with Red China, and possibly with the Soviet Union, igniting World War Three and a nuclear holocaust."



General Douglas MacArthur Comes Home a Hero

MacArthur told General Ridgway that he had been fired because President Truman was mentally ill. His termination caused widespread division amongst American men. Strangers fought on subway trains and in bars. Long friendships were torn asunder.

General MacArthur first went back to Tokyo, where 250,000 Japanese lined the streets to bid him farewell. At a refueling stop in Hawaii, 100,000 people jammed the airport to show their appreciation for the great man.

General MacArthur returned to the United States to an extraordinary hero's welcome. 500,000 people greeted his landing in San Francisco; 250,000 in a parade in Washington; and then: seven million souls cheered themselves hoarse along his parade route in New York City—twice the crowd that greeted Eisenhower after he defeated Nazi Germany in 1945.

In his final speech, General MacArthur uttered the immortal words: "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away."

General Omar Bradley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: "Taking on Red China would lead us into the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time and with the wrong enemy."



General Matthew Ridgway Turns the Tide

General Matthew Ridgway took command of UN forces and proved to be a brilliant commander. General Ridgway was in fact one of the preeminent soldiers of the 20th century. He was an upper-class American. His mother was a concert pianist, his father a judge in Brooklyn. A contemporary called him "a twelfth-century knight with a twentieth-century brain."

General Ridgway commanded the All American Division, the 82nd, in World War Two. Another commander said of Ridgway, "a great combat commander. Lots of courage. Hard as flint and full of intensity."

General Ridgway arrived in Korea to find an army that had completely lost its confidence. The men walked around in a daze. Their state was anything but self assured; they were living in a nightmare. Considering the tremendous wealth of America, the general was shocked at the reality of how poorly clothed and poorly fed, the American soldiers were.

General Ridgway devised a plan. He would take the high ground, deploy his artillery, and fortify his defenses with monster trenches. More importantly, he would take the battle to the Chinese at night by illuminating the battlefield through a massive use of flares.







A Truce Proves Elusive in the Korean War

General Ridgway revived the humiliated American Army. General Omar Bradley, a man not given to superlatives, wrote: "It is not often in wartime that a single battlefield commander can make a decisive difference. But in Korea, Ridgway would prove to be the exception. His brilliant, driving, uncompromising leadership would turn the tide of battle like no other general's in our military history."

It was July 1953 before the newly elected President Eisenhower signed a truce for Korea. Only months before Stalin had died. His death eliminated what had been a constant impediment to the signing of a treaty.

The implementation of peace in Korea was no easy task. Negotiations dragged on for two years; the communists had no urge for a quick settlement. The Kremlin was quite willing to keep America's men, money, and attention tied down in Korea. The Soviets continuously came up with new items to be negotiated to stall any agreement.

The primary issue involved the 100,000 prisoners of war held by the Americans. Thousands of them begged the American military holding them prisoner not to send them back to the communist side. The communists insisted that each and every one of them must be forced to return.

21 American soldiers asked to remain with the communists and they were obliged. American POWs were terribly mistreated by the communists. 51% of American POWs died while in custody. To this day, there are still 8,000 American servicemen listed as Missing in Action from the Korean Conflict.

The American public was irritated and confused about the stalemate—just as Stalin intended them to be. So many American lives had been lost, and those who'd been left behind to mind the home-front found their lives disrupted by a war that didn't seem to have any tangible achievement. 1,500 American soldiers have died in Korea since the Korean War ended.



South Korea After the Korean War

South Korea turned its back on socialism and embraced free enterprise. The beliefs that the South Koreans and their allies fought for in the Korean War have endured. As a result, living standards rose there as fast as anywhere in the world from the 1960s onward.

South Korea left the Third World behind and joined the First World. The World Bank reported in 1977 that in only 15 years South Korea had transformed itself from one of the poorest countries to the middle of the pack.

South Koreans have never forgotten that their current freedom and prosperity is the result of our efforts. In Washington, a memorial to the Korean War was finally built in 1995.





North Korea After the Korean War

North Korea is a socialist republic. It is the most isolated nation on earth, and the most militarized. Ten million North Korean personnel are in uniform today. North Korea has the worst human rights record of any country on earth.

After the Korean War, all known Christians, including priests, were murdered by the government, and all of its churches were destroyed. It is officially an atheist country, and a socialist country. Since the death of its first dictator, Kim Il-Sung, his insane son has served as absolute ruler.

North Koreans do not have access to the internet, or any other media, except the sites produced by their government. Only stories that flatter the regime are available to the citizens, in accordance with socialist theory. Millions have died from famine in North Korea.

North Korea's entire economy is centrally planned by the socialist government, and therefore the workers receive $47 per month. Tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis B, and malnutrition are common ailments amongst its citizens.

Any North Korean citizen listening to South Korean radio stations commits a capital offense. Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans are held in concentration camps as political prisoners. Torture, medical experimentation, rape, murder, starvation, forced labor, and forced abortions are routine in these camps. Many are held prisoner by the government for no other reason than that they are Christians.



The Lesson of Two Koreas

South Korea is a free enterprise democracy. If Marxist theories about the evils of capitalism are correct, they should be in the same shape as North Korea. Whoops!

South Korea has the world's 12th most successful economy. From 1960 to 2000, South Korea boasted the world's fastest growing economy.

The life expectancy of South Koreans is 80 years, a seventeen year difference from the 63 year expectancy of their neighbors across the border in North Korea. Christianity is the largest religion in South Korea.

Take a close look at these two countries, both of the exact same racial stock, both that started out dead even in the 1950s; the result shows a wonderful comparison of a capitalist nation as opposed to a socialist nation.

The average person in South Korea enjoys a standard of living more than five times higher than those in North Korea. And in terms of individual freedom, 100% higher in South Korea.

My sources for this article include: The Fifties by David Halberstam; Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties by Paul Johnson; Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time by Carroll Quigley; and America: A Narrative History by George Brown Tindall and David E. Shi.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 15, 2020:

Polititude ~ Thanks for coming back by with your additional remarks and you are quite welcome. Patton? Yes, I believe Patton could lick pretty much anybody. He was one of those generals like a Julius Caesar or Napoleon.

By the way, I really enjoyed the way you put this: "Appeasement is like throwing meat at a starving lion. Everything is OK until you run out of meat, or the lion gets tired of you."



Politude on January 14, 2020:


Thanks for your response.

It sounds like we all agree, and it is so simple to come to that conclusion. Yet, when you read the history they focus on the end of the war as the positive.

Stalin won against Germany because of the burn everything and retreat during the winter. The war ended in the summer, do you think we would have a better chance than Germany. I do especially with Patton.

We also has the Atomic Bomb, and Russia didn't know we used the only two that we had on Japan. This wasn't a one off, it was the US politician template for getting out of wars or "police action".

This was in essence a deferment of war, not an end whether it was VE or VJ or Armistice. They all setup for the next military battles.

If I might be so bold, I look at the history as our own Hundred Years War.


I still am missing some comments on the Climate hub?

Appeasement is like throwing meat at a starving lion. Everything is OK until you run out of meat, or the lion gets tired of you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 13, 2020:

Polititude ~ Thank you very much for coming over and reading my article about the Korean War. I appreciate your kind compliments.

Yes, why the Germans were not stopped from rearmament after it became known around 1933 it still a much debated question. Appeasement seems to have been the zeitgeist of the day.

After WWII, Churchill was very vocal about not letting the Soviet Union enslave hundreds of millions of unwilling people behind what he named the Iron Curtain. But he got no support from FDR, who by then was probably too ill to put up much of a fight. And lest we forget, FDR kind of liked Uncle Joe and totally misgauged his aims and character because FDR did not feel strongly opposed to Socialism, Fascism, and Communism.

My father is a huge “Roosevelt sold us out, appeased the Russians, and caused the Cold War” guy. He says George Patton stated that Russia was our real long-range enemy and that he begged his superiors to “keep on going all the way to Moscow.” However, Stalin had 100,000,000 troops standing in Eastern Europe.

Politude on January 12, 2020:


An excellent and fact filled article on the Korean War.

While no one can disagree with the facts you wrote here, one can make some comments and some lessons that could be learned from it.

You might disagree with me, but it is my opinion that the Korean War, the Cold War and subsequent wars were seeded by the way that Politicians including general Eisenhower shaping the wars that even continue today.

I would have to write a hub, if I could, to explain my reasoning, but it stems from how the politicians gave away the farm to Stalin.

I understand that after 5 years no one wanted to continue with any more wars. But the cold war, the Korean War and the Vietnam War were connected and allowed to exist because we gave away the farm.

I would start with a common denominator that of allowing the buildup of the enemy by using the blinders of peace.

This goes back to the way the WWI ended in an armistice. And between that time and the beginning of WWII the axis powers not only rebuilt their war capability they learned from their failure and they immensely improved it.

They had the time, the new technology and they went after the resources they needed.

Had the US and its Allies monitored the twenty years of build up an took action would we have still had WWII or at least a WWII where the enemy was not so prepared.

This failure from WWI was duplicated after WWII. The USSR, and China were allowed to become eminent military threats to the world.

Eastern Europe was free before the NAZIS invaded then and occupied their countries. After WWII was diplomatically disposed of Eastern Europe was still occupied but not by the NAZIs it was now part of the USSR.

north korea socialist example for today.

From the end of WWII to the Korean Police Action both Russia and China were allowed to prepare for their plan of war but a small piece at a time. First, take over China for Communism and then align with the other Communist country the USSR.

Then both of them would back communism for All of Korea and All of Vietnam. In both military actions the military generals many that excelled in WWII were cut down by the politicians, and presidents.

Eisenhower was imo more politician that military. Truman was the politician that enabled the failure and the costs of US lives to kneel before the proxy players of both Korean police action, and the Vietnam "police action" which in both wars were the USSR and China.

This is similar to what is happening with N Korea and Iran today.

The same threat of bringing Russia and China into the Iranian, Syrian and other place where Russia and China have claimed as their own exists today.

The risk assessment by the US at the end of WWII was just go to peace at any cost and that have resulted in as long as Donald Trump has been alive.

The risk assessment failed to have a long term component to it. And even the 70 plus years of history the politicians still ignore the old adage and are repeating history.

Finally, fast forward to today.

The left and their socialist goals have not factored in the history that I just described.

They only have to look at the details in your hub to see how they are putting the US into peril.

Thanks and remember it is only my opinion.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 31, 2015:

Andrew Meek~ Thank you very much for the kind compliments. I appreciate you taking the time to read my article. I found the photograph in question (apparently taken by one G. Dimiitri Boria) here:

Andrew Meek on March 31, 2015:

Mr. Watkins: Great story. I have a question for you. My father served as a medic in Korea, and I am almost positive he is pictured center in the MASH unit photo above. Where did you find this? I would like to track down the source if possible. What a treasure. Thank you. Andrew

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 27, 2015:

Genocide is the elimination or attempted elimination of an entire racial, ethnic, or religious group of people---so no, this would not qualify. There was never any plan to eradicate the Korean People. In fact, the North and South Koreans are the same People, which gives us a great controlled experiment for the evil, suffering, deprivation, and death, caused by Socialism and the incredible human comfort, success, and prosperity that Free Enterprise brings.

Dave Phillan on February 26, 2015:

Interesting account.

Do you think the air bombing of Pyongyang was a genocidal act - would be interesting to get some modern day historians and military types across this one. It looks like the whole air campaign against the North targeted civilians, not military targets, witness the state of Pyongyang ?

The violence in this war seems a cut above the previous war less than a decade earlier.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 21, 2012: Thank you!! The details about what happened on the Chinese mainland are murky. I just read the other day that the West betrayed Chiang Kai-shek and secretly backed Mao. That was news to me but who knows.

MacArthur no doubt had a great career. As you say, he might have gotten a bit big for his britches toward the end.

I am well pleased to see that you are aware of this history and engaged me about it. I very much appreciate the visit and your insightful remarks. Thanks again!

James from upstate, NY on March 20, 2012:

Terrific writing! I didn't know MacArthur had made such serious blunders. Maybe his initial successes led to overconfidence. The story I was told about Korea was that if MacArthur could lure the Chinese communists to fight out in the open, the US would have a huge advantage and at the same time the chinese nationalist's led by Chiang Kai-shek would retake the country. But as you said, it would be a huge risk to engage the Chinese, the north Koreans and Russians at the same time.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on July 07, 2011:

hanski— I hope you enjoy your visit to Seoul. I've never been over there. Cheers!

hanski on July 06, 2011:

yup no problem. i will be visiting seoul this october. i hope i could get to visit the DMZ...

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on July 06, 2011:

hanski— Hello! Thank you very much for taking the time to visit and read my article. I appreciate your kind compliments.

I haven't read the book you mentioned but I did have an acquaintance who wrote about Korea. His name is Gordon Cucullu and the book is entitled "Separated at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin."

I read the article you kindly provided a link to. Truly a tragic situation for millions of people.

hanski on July 05, 2011:

hi! i was amazed, very educational and informative account of the Korean war you have here.

i'm reading the Two Koreas by Don Oberdorfer when i came across your hub.

btw, there's report of a famine again striking North Korea. its sad...i just wanna share:

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 03, 2011:

jvhirniak— Very interesting. Thanks for sharing that. You are one well traveled man, my friend. It is good to hear from you again. I'm glad you enjoyed my article.

jvhirniak on April 01, 2011:

James - I was in Seoul a few years ago and visited the Korean War Monument/Memorial - excellent displays and very informative. Enjoyed reading your article.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 03, 2011:

what_say_you— You are most welcome. Opinions are like ********. Everybody has one and everybody thinks everybody else's stinks. :D

Is that off color?

Thank you for coming by to visit. I appreciate your warm words.

what_say_you from Louisiana on March 02, 2011:

Thank you for making me feel welcome James, I appreciate your kindness. You just so happen to write about things I am interested in AND you seem to make your point without seeming biased. I like that. It gives me the feeling that you are writing with honesty ;0) and I like that as well. Everybody has an opinion..I just want the truth.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 02, 2011:

what_say_you— Good to see you again! Welcome to the Hub Pages Community. I appreciate you for taking the time to read my Hubs.

Thank you for your service to our country. I am honored to make your "acqaintance."

I think this past year the remains of a few were given back by North Korea. In fact, if I recall correctly, they give back a few bodies here and there.

It's not called the "Forgotten War" for nothing. I am glad to have provided an educative experience for you, and others.

what_say_you from Louisiana on March 01, 2011:

Fellow Watkins....I am sincerely ashamed to say that I learned all that I have ever known about the "Forgotten War" in your hub. I served in the USMC and it was merely mentioned and used as a morale booster while in boot camp. I am ignorant on this subject but I vow gain more knowledge so my children will know more than I and this war will not be "Forgotten". I am left wondering about them men and their families who were never repatriated.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 28, 2011:

drpastorcarlotta— You are welcome, Doctor Pastor. There is no one I would rather hear from than you, my dear. Thank you and God bless.

Pastor Dr Carlotta Boles from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC on February 28, 2011:

Your always teaching and educating your hubs! Very informational, well written, and useful! Thank you James.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 28, 2011:

Diana Lee— Welcome to the Hub Pages Community! Thirty-seven years of marriage! Bravo!

I am vicariously proud of your dad's service to our country. I am sorry to hear of the health problems he endured.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. It was written with children of those who served in mind. I appreciate your comments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 28, 2011:

paulgc— Hello! You are welcome. I surely appreciate your high praise indeed. I am glad you enjoyed this piece so. Thank you for making my day with your gracious accolades. I am very happy to read your words.

Diana L Pierce from Potter County, Pa. on February 27, 2011:

There is more information in this hub than most of us ever knew. My dad was drafted twice during that war. Thank God he never seen the front line. He served two years state side then returned home only to be drafted again. He then was sent to Japan for two years. When he returned home he battled problems for years with his blood account which came from all the shots they gave him required to travel overseas.

paulgc on February 26, 2011:

Hello James,

I read this article on my new smart phone and i must say how much i enjoyed this very informative and easily understandable hub.You have delivered a piece of work that had me gripped from start to finsh and by the end of it i was eager to read more.

I have read a lot of historical books and articles in the past but i must say that yours is the best so far.

Thanks for a great read.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 25, 2011:

harrison8bal— I love history too! I will publish a Hub on Vietnam soon. Watch for it! Thank you for taking the time to read my work.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 25, 2011:

PegCole17— You are welcome. You can be justly proud of your father's service to his country. Most veterans don't talk about what they saw in battle. I am glad my article was instructive. I am well pleased at your remarks. Thank you!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 25, 2011:

crystolite— I am glad you liked it. Thank you for taking the time to read it and for letting me know it was good. Welcome to HubPages.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 25, 2011:

Hello, hello,— Yes, I agree with you that it was horrific for the men who served in the Korean War. Thank you for the kind compliment.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 25, 2011:

stars439— Thank you for such gracious laudations at my humble Hub. I gratefully accept. This is my comment of the day. It made me feel mighty good about my work. I appreciate you, brother. God Bless You!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 25, 2011:

yenajeon— Thank you for taking the time to read my Hub. I appreciate the compliment and the rated useful. I see we both live in Michigan!

What you wrote is definitely news to me. I am glad you illuminated my mind as to this. Do the South Koreans think America should have just let the Communists have all of Korea? Do they wish to reunify under the regime of the North?

harrison8bal from Shanghai on February 25, 2011:

This is like even better than Wikipedia man, seriously Good Work! I love history on these stuff! I enjoyed reading it from the beginning to the end xD Maybe you should do all other wars as well!

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on February 24, 2011:

James, I learned more from your article here than I ever did in school. My Dad was a veteran of both WWII and "The Korean Conflict" but he never spoke about these and other atrocities. Serving on board Ammunition Carriers, Destroyers, Minesweepers and Sub Chasers, he spent much of his time in peril. There are lots of questions I'd ask him now if I could. Thanks for an eye-opening lesson in history. I'm inspired to read more.

Emma from Houston TX on February 24, 2011:

I like this information. at least it has enlarged my memory of what happened in that war. Keep it up

Hello, hello, from London, UK on February 24, 2011:

Splendid hub but it was horrific for the poor soldiers who had to fight there.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2011:

drbj— You are welcome. I am so happy to read your laudatory remarks about my work here. It makes the work worthwhile to me to receive these little notes of praise. Thank you for making my day!!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2011:

kashmir56— Three cheers for your dad! This Hub is for you, my friend. I figured there were some folks around who's daddies had fought in the Korean War. God Bless those men.

Thank you for the awesome and the thumbs up!

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on February 23, 2011:

James, this is one of the best hubs I think I have ever read. It was a very long captivating interesting learning experience. You explained so much more than has ever been explained anywhere else about the Korean conflict, or war . This work exceeds the advantages of television. Great stuff. God Bless You and your precious loved ones.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2011:

A. A. Zavala— You are sure welcome. Thank you for the accolades. They mean a lot coming from you, as you were raised in a military family.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2011:

Marcella Glenn— Thank you!! Thank you very much! :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2011:

sueroy333— You are welcome. Thank you for taking the time to read this extra long Hub. I cut it as short as I could, I think. There is a very important lesson here for those with eyes that see and ears that hear. And as you said so succinctly: "It's sad that we have to teach that, it should be the given!"

Indeed. I appreciate the bookmark and your compliments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2011:

CMerritt— That last picture tells the tale, doesn't it? I would hope, in agreeance with you, that everyone will reflect on this. Thank you for the laudatory remarks. Your comments make me feel good. :D

Yena Williams from California on February 23, 2011:

Great information! The only thing I would have to disagree with is the fact that most Korean people living in Korea do not attribute their prosperity to Americans. In fact, alot of them believe that America is the reason the country was separated permanently. Not saying that this is true since it's often debated, but it's all very interesting. Rated useful!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2011:

Joshua Kell— Hello! Thank you for the kind compliments. I appreciate the visitation. For those, like you, whose fathers and grandfathers fought in the Korean War: This Hub is for you.

You should be proud of your grandfather's service to his country. War destroys men. There is no doubt about that.

You are surely correct that North Korea is quite dangerous. They would think nothing of arming terrorists with nuclear or dirty bombs. President for Life Kim is extremely cruel. Socialism is all about power over people. So, it naturally attracts rouges. Everyone should be able to perceive that with clarity.

And Socialism is the enemy of God. God is a competitor to the state in this view, and so must be eliminated. Indeed, we need to pray for these people, brother.

The tortures you describe are sadly typical of Socialist regimes. When are people going to wake up to the fact that these utopian schemes—enforced equality from above—always lead to tyranny and immense suffering? The twentieth century is littered with the corpses of utopian dreams.

Thank you for your outstanding comments. And you are most welcome. God Bless You.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2011:

Ingenira— Thank you! One would think the North Koreans would wake up but they are so brainwashed that most of them, as those of old in the USSR, don't realize how much better the rest of the world lives. They are told, and only told, that they are better off than the rest of the world.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2011:

Kaie Arwen— Thank you for that high praise indeed. And "The Earth is Alive" is also one my favorite Hubs I have written. I appreciate your recognition of it here.

I wrote this expressly for people like you whose parents (or other relatives) served in the Korean War. I think it important that we understand what happened; what the men went through and why; the sacrifices that were made for the cause of freedom. It was a fight against evil aggression.

I honor your father. And yes, that first photo is stunning and poignant. Thanks again for your inspiration and encouragement of my works. I appreciate you! :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2011:

Writer David— You are most welcome, my friend. Thank you very much for sharing a bit of the story of your Uncle John. No doubt, war is hell for all involved. I wish there was no war. Unfortunately, there are bad actors who rape, pillage, and destroy; who subjugate, usually in the name of some wild-eyed utopia that visits horror on the human race.

Your Uncle John is a hero. I thank him posthumously for his service to our country; to freedom!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on February 22, 2011:

I understand far more about the Korean War and the part the U.S. played from reading your hub, James, than from any other source.

You are a historian of the first order and I appreciate your well-written and well-researched historical expositions. Easy to read and easy to understand. Thank you.

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on February 22, 2011:

Hi James, great and interesting hub with lots of great information about the Korean War, my dad fought in the Korean War.

Awesome hub and thumbs up !!!

Augustine A Zavala from Texas on February 22, 2011:

Fascinating hub. Easy to read and follow, but feel of depth. Thanks again.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 22, 2011:

De Greek— Thank you, kind sir. I consider it an honor to have you visit my humble Hub. I surely agree with you about the terminology of the government of North Korea. That word "Socialism" is oily and hard to hold on to. Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Kim Il-Sung, et al. all called themselves and their nations "Socialist." Many put forth that they didn't know what the word means.

Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. Hardly what Marx had in mind, or any of the other socialist I listed above.

I do get your drift though. And I cannot say you are mistaken. I appreciate your thoughtful words.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 22, 2011:

H P Roychoudhury— Thank you, my friend, for reminding me of our earlier conversation. That is interesting to re-read.

I do not think the United Kingdom is experiencing growth like South Korea. The United Kingdom was once the richest nation and easily the most successful nation on earth—before they blended socialist ideas with capitalism. Since then, their economy has not been neary as dynamic. Of course they are still doing great, but it is on the capital built up over centuries by their predecessors, not new wealth.

There was quite a decline in England's economic fortunes from 1950 to 1980—after socialism crept in on a measured scale. They did recover strongly under Margaret Thatcher. I may write about that.

Marcella Glenn from PA on February 22, 2011:

Another informative hub.

Susan Mills from Indiana on February 22, 2011:

My daughter and I are taking Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwon with the original traditions- which originated in South Korea. This has made us want to learn more about this amazing country and courageous people. I've bookmarked this for further study.

Thank you. This is informative, easy to read, and interesting!

This is also a great lesson for her in the perils of communism, and why democracy is so important. It's sad that we have to teach that, it should be the given!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 22, 2011:

Tom Cornett— Great to see you my friend!! I agree with you that President Truman had to fire MacArthur. Thank you for taking the time to read my essay. And you are quite welcome.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 22, 2011:

WillStarr— I appreciate the affirmation and encouragement. Thank you for recommending my Hub to others. I agree with your remarks 100%.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 22, 2011:

Old Poolman— Thank you for being my first visitor! I appreciate your kind compliments. It was my pleasure to put this together.

Chris Merritt from Pendleton, Indiana on February 22, 2011:

James, this hub has fascinated me. I learned a great deal, many thing that went on, I never knew about. Your comparisons of the two Korea's on captialism vs. socialism is epic. I think it is a perfect analogy, and EVERYONE should reflect upon this. That last picture really says a lot.


Levi Joshua Kell from Arizona on February 22, 2011:

Hi James. Great Hub. My Grandfather fought in the Korean war, so I found this information very intriguing. I am very proud of his service; but I know this war destroyed him emotionally, and ruined his life. He returned from the war effort, a morphine addict, and soon became a very bad alcoholic. This was because he could not bear the terrible burden of his memories, and he bore a tremendous amount of guilt for his part in this terrible situation. He did not believe in the war and led a very sad life. He did not like to talk about it; although from the information I was able to glean from him, this experience was horrific.

North Korea needs to be stopped in their fascist ambitions, they are terribly dangerous, and are cruel to their citizens. Ol' president Kim, and his son are foul enemies of God and peace. I have been told by a North Koren missionary, that many North Koreans would be willing to suffer through another war, in the hope that the standing 'government' might be toppled. It is pretty bad when people hope for some other country to attack them, just to free them from the oppression that they endure. This would be very different from the Iraq effort I believe.

That they are starving to the point that many have turned to cannibalism is mortifying and just plain sad. I pray for these people, that they may experience the freedom they desire very soon, and we both know it will be very soon indeed, with the greatly anticipated return of Christ.

I read of the tortures of Christians in a Voice of the Martyrs magazine that I subscribe to, and it is just unimaginable. I'm talking about them pouring molten lead into the ears of prisoners, and the flaying and burning of Christians alive, crucifixions and every other type of daemonic torture that evil men have ever been able to conceive of. These folks are very brave, and most would rather be tortured, and executed, than renounce Christ. May God bless them and end their suffering soon. Thanks James, and may God continue to bless you.

Ingenira on February 22, 2011:

Excellent hub, James. The differences between the North and South Korea are so huge that I wonder when the North Korean will wake up to realise that.

Kaie Arwen on February 22, 2011:

James- This Hub is one of best you've ever written. "The Earth is Alive" will always be my favorite, but this, I appreciate in ways that many people might not understand, but that doesn't matter........... it will stand on its own.

As the daughter of a Korean war veteran who never shared his experiences, unless of course they were humorous..... many of the reasons for his silence have now been unveiled. He lived to make me smile....... sharing Korea would never have illicited the desired response.

The first photo you chose is absolutely beautiful; the power of a real hug; there's nothing like it!

Writer David from Mobile, AL on February 22, 2011:

James, my late Uncle John was at Juno Beach (with the Canadians for reasons he never explained fully) at Normandy in WWII. It was bad, but nothing like Omaha. He endured many hardships for the rest of his time in Europe. He stayed there until German surrendered. He also participated in the Korean War. He stated two days before his death, the Korean War was more horrible than any experiences he faced in Europe (with the exception of dachau concentration camp). He was a great hero, a four time purple heart winner and several other awards. Thanks for this great hub. It made me think of him this morning as I sit here drinking my coffee.

De Greek from UK on February 22, 2011:

Such an interesting hub. WEll done.

One thing though: N Korea calls itself a Socialist country, but is, in fact, a purely communist one.

Sweeden and the UK are socialist countries, meaning free economies with a particular stress on support for the weaker members of their societies.

Do not confuse socialism with communism :-)

H P Roychoudhury from Guwahati, India on February 21, 2011:

My Friend- you have rightly produced very heart-breathing historic facts as you are a great historian. But something of the fact strikes me. I may be mistaken in my observation. I also remember here your comment that you made on my hub “Causes of Conflict of North & South Korea” where you highly made a point of rich South-Korea for the rule of “Capitalism”. Even you justified the Chinese Solvency due to the policy of Capitalism. But the best policy is the adjustment of Socialism & Capitalism where the difference of rich and poor could not be enhanced as we find in the Governance of United Kingdom. I have cited your past remark for your memory.

[James A Watkins 8 months ago

You have provided an outstanding summary of Korea. The only thing I found lacking is that it is very important in my mind to note the results of the two systems. Under Communism North Korea is in abject poverty and many have little food. There are hardly any lights there at night. South Korea, under Capitalism, is a thriving country on par with any. The stark difference should be a lesson to the world about what system works best—for the people. Thank you! Excellent writing!

H P Roychoudhury 8 months ago

Hi James Watkins,

We are concerned with the feelings of the people of the regions that were once very much brotherly but in the course of time replaced with enmity. You may be write life in poverty in the North and life in wealth in South might be the cause of enmity. If the system of Communism was the cause of poverty in the North and Capitalism was the cause of wealth in the South, then how does China today getting rich year after year having being prevailing the system of communism in the country.

James A Watkins 8 months ago

Well, China remained mud poor until they began to accept Free Market principles, which they do. There are now thousands of millionaires in China—unthinkable under Mao or his immediate successor. The economy of the entire nation only began to rise with the rise of Free Enterprise in China. Thank you.]

Tom Cornett from Ohio on February 21, 2011:

Awesome hub James. I was reminded and learned a lot too. Truman did the right thing when he fired MacArthur. It wasn't the time. Thanks brother James. :)

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on February 21, 2011:

Nowhere on earth is the clear difference between free enterprise and socialism so starkly defined as the two Koreas.

Excellent Hub James, and one I'll recommend.

Old Poolman on February 21, 2011:


This was a useful and very informative hub. I learned a bunch I was not aware of. Great job as usual.