70 years ago, the war in Korea began

24. Juni 2020

Only five years after the common victory of the anti-Hitler coalition against German fascism and in early September against Japanese militarism, a bloody war began in the Asian region as a result of the escalation of the Cold War, which claimed more than 4.5 million victims in three years.

Korea, which could only be liberated in September 1945 after 35 years of Japanese colonial rule (1910-45), was divided by the victorious powers USA and Soviet Union along the 38th parallel into two occupation zones and initially administered in trust.

All efforts to create a joint rebuilding from both zones were torpedoed by the reactionary regime of Rhee Syun-man installed by the United States with all means. Since there was considerable unrest against Rhee in South Korea itself, North Korean units crossed the line of demarcation along the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950. Without any significant resistance, they entered Seoul and within a few days, they even advanced to just outside the port city of Busan in the south. Rhee’s troops lacked motivation and fighting power; droves of his soldiers deserted and defected to the other side.

As a result, the USA obtained a UN mandate for a war mission for this inter-Korean conflict. The troops of the USA and Australia under General Douglas MacArthur advanced as far as the Yalu River between North Korea and the People’s Republic of China. MacArthur’s aim in this war was to defeat the newly founded People’s Republic of China by military means. He suggested throwing atomic bombs also at Chinese metropolises, but US President Truman rejected this.

The Korean War and the American military actions were condemned by peace forces all over the world. It was clear that this war greatly increased the risk of renewed international military conflict, including in Europe. Thus it does not surprise that on the foundation congress of the FIR in summer 1951 in Vienna the federations of former survivors, partisans and resistance fighters stood up for an immediate end of this war with clear words.

That the highly armed American army could not achieve a military success against the North Korean People’s Army was above all due to the commitment of the Chinese voluntary federations, which supported North Korea since end of 1950. The country also received military equipment from the Soviet Union.

It was only after fierce fighting and tough negotiations that the ceasefire agreement, which is still valid today, was signed in Panmunjom on 27 July 1953. According to conservative Western estimates, more than 4.6 million Koreans were killed between June 25, 1950 and July 27, 1953, including three million civilians in the north and 500,000 civilians in the south of the peninsula.

The FIR pursues with concern that in the surrounding field of this 70th anniversary nationalist groups in South Korea torpedo the slowly developing process of understanding between North and South Korea by propaganda actions and other disturbance maneuvers. We call on the peace forces to make their voices heard in this context as well so that the permanent threat by military force can be reduced on the Korean peninsula.