leroymoore

About the Korean War

In Human rights, Justice, Peace, Politics, War on August 20, 2017 at 4:11 am

 

By Tom Mayer, Peace Trains Column, August 18, 2017

The current crisis with North Korea arises from the unresolved Korean War. Here are some facts about the Korean War unknown to most Americans.

 

1. Japan annexed Korea as a colony in 1910. Japan exploited Korea brutally. The Korean War actually began in the 1930’s as a civil war against Japanese imperialism and against the Koreans who collaborated with Japanese imperialism. Kim Il Sung, the first head of North Korea (and grandfather of the current ruler), was a principal leader of the resistance movement against Japan.

2. During World War Two, grassroots liberation movements sprang up throughout Korea. These movements aimed at redistributing land (which was owned by a tiny elite) and casting off Japanese domination. In addition, over 50 thousand Koreans joined with the Chinese Communists to fight against Japan in Manchuria. These Korean soldiers subsequently helped Mao and his peasant army win the civil war in China. This motivated China to support North Korea in the Korean War.

3. Korea has been a single country for well over a thousand years. Nevertheless the day after the Nagasaki bombing, U.S. government officials (e.g. Dean Acheson and Dean Rusk) chose the 38th parallel – which had no previous relevance in Korean history – as the dividing line between North and South Korea. The purpose was to prevent Soviet troops from occupying the whole of Korea. Neither the Koreans nor the Soviets were consulted about this crucial decision. The 38th parallel has never been a recognized international boundary.

 

4. In order to forestall social revolution in Asia, the Truman administration decided to resurrect Japanese influence within East Asia. In South Korea the U.S. established a government consisting largely of persons who collaborated with Japan during World War Two. This regime brutally repressed all movements for progressive social change. Many thousands of men, women, and children were murdered by government forces and their right wing allies.

5. On June 25, 1950 North Korea launched a full scale invasion of South Korea. Prior to the attack there had been numerous border skirmishes, some of them substantial. The purpose of the invasion was (a) preventing renewed Japanese hegemony over Korea, (b) removing violent Japanese collaborators from power in South Korea, and (c) unifying the country. Although the armies of North and South Korea were of about equal size, the North Korean army proved far superior and enjoyed considerable popular support within the south. Without U.S. military intervention, North Korean forces would have vanquished their foes and unified Korea in less than one month.

6. The United States carpet bombed North Korea for three years with very little concern for civilian casualties. Every North Korean city was destroyed. The U.S. dropped more bombs on North Korea then were used in the entire Pacific theater during World War Two. Extensive use was made of napalm, and employment of nuclear weapons was seriously considered. Neutral observers said that by 1952 North Korea resembled a moonscape.

7. North Korean forces were often ruthless towards civilians, but substantial evidence shows that America’s South Korean allies were considerably more vicious and less discriminating. They frequently slaughtered the entire families of anyone suspected of being a leftist. The U.S. high command generally ignored these atrocities and sometimes participated in them. This happened at Nogun Village in July 1950 when American soldiers machine gunned hundreds of helpless civilians under a railroad bridge.

8. The Korean War was one of the most destructive wars of the 20th century. About three million Koreans died in that war, at least half of whom were civilians. By comparison, Japan lost 2.3 million people in World War Two. The Korean War was never officially ended, and (as current events indicate) could easily be restarted.

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