On paper and in history, the Korean War was seen as neither a victory or a defeat. A cease fire and peace treaty was written between them instead. The battles went on for 3 long years. On July 27, 1953 the two sides signed an armistice and a new border was established on a few miles from the original 1950 border. In my opinion the Korean conflict/war was a success in ways other than the original goals set by the United States.
The war ended in a draw. Both sides agreed to a cease fire and signed an armistice. The Korean War did not end in a total victory for the United States or anyone else. Instead, both sides settled for an uneasy peace that still exists to this day at the time of the writing of this article 12-24-15.
Did the United States experience their first defeat? The answer to that question may be more in the minds of people who study what actually happened and what is happening today. The way I see it, the end result has been a victory when you compare what is happening today in South Korea to what was happening before the attack, before one of the bloodiest wars our world ever saw, and in comparison to North Korea today.
Why did the United States enter this war? Many people felt and might even still feel today that the United States did not belong there. I have heard this myself even in this year of 2015. People grumble saying, “we did not belong in Korea.”
I strongly disagree. My own father was one who fought in Korea from 1950 to 1953. He was just a young boy age 16 entering the military at Fort Knox, Kentucky Army base for a military career. He got sent directly into a violent and horrific bloody conflict during some of the roughest weather anyone could ever imagine. He spent much of his time there in battles in tanks. Short recreation breaks were spent in Japan.
One of his greatest memories of course was the time he was wounded trying to save another fellow soldier and did save him. He would say over and over again as if elated: “they covered me up for dead, but I was still alive.”
This was a technique done by his fellow soldiers by moving the tank over his wounded body to hide him from the enemy as he was then pulled up into the tank to wait for the M.A.S.H. units.
He was taken to a hospital in Japan where they placed a steel plate in his chest that he had no idea even existed until he found out he had lung cancer later in life at age 56. He died of lung cancer.
The specialists said “we want to know more about this steel plate we found on x-ray in your chest.” Dad did not even know he had a steel plate. It had to have been placed there while in the Korean War at the hospital in Japan. He received a chest wound. Just think of that, and I do very often now, only 16 years old laying now under an Army tank, not knowing if he would survive or not.
I still strongly disagree. Dad came out of it alive, was wounded once, received a purple heart for his bravery and was one of those who returned to the United States, got a job and tried to “forget” he was ever there, but never did forget it. He watched every war movie he could find and never missed an episode of “The Big Picture.”
I was born in 1956 and I remember much of his early life after that war. He would wake up in the middle of the night “reciting orders” over and over again, sometimes screaming and crying. He suffered from the memories of that war, but never once said he was sorry he went. He said the worst part of it all to him was to see the suffering little children. Many of the fatalities of that war were innocent civilians.
Why was the United States in Korea 1950 to 1953?
The United States responded to South Korea’s defense after North Korea invaded. The original goals were to restore the international border along the 38th Parallel and to eject North Korean forces from South Korea territories. Everyone actually thought the conflict was over until the Chinese entered into the picture.
United States leaders also wanted to show North Korea that this kind of aggression would not be tolerated. To this day, year of 2015, North Korea still shows hostility toward South Korea. There has been no more conflict equal to what was in the 1950’s. For this reason among other reasons, I think the decision to enter the conflict ended in more of a victory than a defeat. It seems evident to me that all who entered that conflict in opposition of communism did put a lid on the horrific aggression toward innocent people.
Additional reasons I see this as being a victory for the United States:
When you compare the economy of North Korea to the economy of South Korea today we find the war allowed for a rebirth of South Korea. Since the end of the 1950’s conflict/war and cessation of extreme hostilities South Korea has grown into a vibrant and powerful republic.
People all over the world now benefit from South Korea’s economic success. The capital of South Korea, Seoul, has become an international center of commerce and industry. Today, South Koreans enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world.
None of the above would have happened had the communists been successful in their invasion of the South.
By contrast, North Korea is one of the best examples of communism’s failure. The United Nations reports that the North Korean economy is ranked much lower than South Korea in the world. North Koreans suffer much more from starvation and malnutrition.
Meanwhile, the South Koreans are thriving. Businesses like Daewoo, Hyundai, LG, Samsung, Kia Automotives are some of the largest business conglomerates in the world and have become household names in U.S. family rooms, garages and offices.
Everyday, I see more and more Kia automobiles on the roads. I have considered purchasing a Kia Soul automobile now for years and probably will eventually buy one if I need another vehicle. My old chevy still runs! But when I have need of a new automobile, I am always looking toward the Kia as purchasing one. At first, I had no idea, Kia was actually based out South Korea.
Without the United States and these other nations who joined in to fight against the communist aggression in the 1950’s, none of the things for South Korea would be in existence today. We today would not be enjoying the economic growth in South Korea. It is a good thing also the President stopped the atomic bombing efforts as well, as it would have taken over 100 years for any kind of civilization to be in that area again.
As recorded in our history, there were mistakes made as there are in any kind of war, many innocent people were killed, but the positive outcomes of this war still tells me it was definitely a victory, not a defeat, for the United States in terms of “long term events.”