For Your Reference

The U.S. War Against Korea

April 12, 2017

The following article provides background material on the U.S. occupation of Korea and the history of U.S. aggression against the Korean people.

At the end of World War II, the U.S. government signed several documents pledging to withdraw all its armed forces from the Korean peninsula and to support the establishment of a “free and independent Korea” based on the sovereign will of the Korean people.

But the U.S. government did not honor these commitments even for a second. From the first day that U.S. troops landed in Korea, they began to create the infrastructure for permanent military occupation. The patriotic Korean political forces which had fought the Japanese aggressors were systematically suppressed or killed. By 1948, the U.S. had installed a puppet government (based, in large part, on former collaborators with the Japanese) in South Korea and declared the partition of the country. (see “The Worker,” November 1, 1999).

Not content with occupying the southern half of the peninsula, U.S. imperialism prepared and launched the Korean war with the goal of occupying the entire country. The Korean war was part of U.S. imperialism’s strategy of extending its colonial empire to the four ends of the earth by suppressing the national liberation movements and “containing communism.” Amongst other things, the U.S. sought to create a ring of military bases around China and the Soviet Union. In fact, the Truman administration planned the Korean war as a preparation for “rolling back communism” through an all-out attack on the People’s Republic of China.

Below we provide further material on how the U.S. launched the Korean war and the barbaric methods it used against the Korean people.

Immediately after occupying Korea in September 1945, the U.S. moved quickly to accomplish its goal of turning the Korean peninsula into a U.S. military base.

Near the 38th parallel, the U.S. started fortifying artillery positions and bomb shelters. Money was poured into the construction of military air bases, roads, and naval ports. Cheju island was placed under direct control of the U.S. army and its airport was expanded to accommodate B-29 bombers. Naval bases at Ryosu, Inchon, and Pusan ports were all rebuilt and expanded.

During this time the U.S. army command in Korea also began organizing a puppet Korean army in the southern half of the peninsula. A “Korean National Guard” was organized by U.S. military authorities, and an “English Military Institute” was created to train South Korean officers. In the Spring of 1948, President Truman agreed to the decision of his Security Council to increase military aid in order to “build and strengthen a South Korean army.” Soon afterwards, a “conscription law” was issued forcing Korean youth in all southern provinces into the military. By 1950, the U.S. had amassed a 100,000-strong south Korean army.

In addition to pouring in huge amounts of money in order to turn the peninsula into a U.S military base, the U.S. announced in early 1950 an official “Treaty of Mutual Defense” which called for the “defense and modernization” of the Korean army in the south. According to General MacArthur, the new South Korean military force was “the best in Asia” and the head of the U.S. military advisory group called it “the faithful watchdog guarding U.S. capital.”

Confident in its military position and strength, and not content with merely occupying the southern half of the peninsula, the U.S. then began a determined campaign of military threats and provocations against North Korea.

Throughout 1949-50, the South Korean president, Syngman Rhee, began issuing calls for a “northward expedition” and “unity through force of arms.” On October 31, 1949, for example, on the deck of the U.S. cruiser Setpol, Rhee stated that the “North-South division must be removed through war. We can occupy north Korea and achieve unification.” In a letter to a U.S. official on September 30th of that same year he wrote: “I think this is a golden opportunity for us to open an attack and wipe out the remnants in Pyongyang. Our people hanker for north-bound expedition.” And in a press interview in December he declared “In the coming year we will strive as one to regain our lost territory...we must remember that next year we should unify north and south Korea by our own strength.” Such statements were accompanied by the huge buildup of U.S. and South Korean troops in the summer of 1949.

In 1949, the U.S. military began launching combat operations, small border incursions, against the North all along the 38th parallel. Over 2,617 armed invasions of the northern territory took place that year, and U.S. reporters themselves began describing the situation as a “small war.” The head of the U.S. Military Advisory Group, Roberts, stated in October 1949 that “Attacks on the region north of the 38th parallel have been and will be made by my orders. In many cases, however, units launched attacks at discretion only to spend a tremendous amount of ammunition with no result whatsoever except to suffer heavy losses.”

(to be continued)