Revision Diary

Korean War


Korean War.



Make sure that you know the situation of Korea after WWII

You will need to know the story of the Korean War and its results.




Korea after WWII

  1. After the war, the Americans and Russians divided Korea (which had been ruled by Japan) into a Communist north and a capitalist south.

  2. It was divided along the 38th parallel because the only map available was a small-scale map of the world.

  3. The ruler in North Korea was the hard-line communist Kim Il Sung.   The President of South Korea was Syngman Rhee.

  4. North and South Korea hated each other - there were constant border clashes, and fear of invasion.




The Korean War


•   The Americans developed the 'domino theory' to explain Communist expansion.

•   In April 1950, the American National Security Council issued a report (NSC 68) recommending abandoning 'containment' to start 'rolling back' Communism.

•   In 1949, Kim Il Sung visited Stalin and persuaded him to let him invade South Korea.    Stalin saw a chance to continue the cold war and discomfort America, but ‘at arm’s length’

•   Kim II Sung also went to see Mao Zedong, the leader of China, who promised his full support.  

•   In 1950, Syngman Rhee boasted that he was going to attack North Korea.    It gave Kim Il Sung an excuse to  invade South Korea (on 25 June 1950).  


•   The North Korean People's Army (NKPA) easily drove back the Republic of Korea's army (the ROKs) to Pusan

•   The Americans persuaded the United Nations to pass a resolution supporting South Korea, and sent troops to Korea.  

•   15 Sept 1950: Gen. MacArthur with 300,000 UN troops led an amphibious assault at Inchon; the NKPA were driven back to the Chinese border.  

•   25 Nov 1950: the Chinese 'People's Volunteers' attacked to help the North Koreans.   They drove back the Americans, and the war reached a stalemate at the 38th parallel.  


•   In 1953, Eisenhower became American president.  He threatened to use the atomic bomb if China did not stop fighting.  

•   The Chinese agree to a truce, which was signed on 27 July 1953.  



Results of the Korean War

  1. Human cost - perhaps a million Chinese and half a million North Korean soldiers died in the war.    Many civilians - perhaps 8 million - died.

  2. Korea stayed split and still is; North Korea is STILL regarded as a 'problem' state.

  3. Cold War/ Vietnam - the Americans believed that Korea proved the domino theory, and this made them try to stop Communist expansion elsewhere - especially in Vietnam.   They also used some of the tactics (e.g. napalm) they developed in Korea.  

  4. Atomic War.   Many Americans had wanted to use the atomic bomb in Korea, and the world came close to nuclear war.   This led to fear of 'Armageddon' in the west, CND and Ban-the-Bomb campaigns.


Revision Focus

This is a Paper 1 topic, so concentrate on learning:

1.   WHAT happened

2.   EFFECTS/ Importance



e-book on Korean War,



Online revision sheet  



Essay on the events of the Korean War



Check your learning:

Do the Self-test on the Cold War 1945-53