The Catalyst Of The Korean War

Submitted By marchammy16
Words: 1643
Pages: 7

The Catalyst of the Korean War Tensions between two sides are always high but it takes the first punch, the wrong phrase, an accidental miss fire that could set off a series of events of which the end is never for sure. The Korean War was in the mist of the tension of the Cold War but did the Soviet Union or the United States of America start it? We can point fingers at events prior to the troop movements from the North Korean forces and say that they played an aspect of the breakout of war but we would be incorrect. It was Kim II Sung’s perceptions of the perfect timing for him to go to war with the south that set all major players into action. Kim’s belief were that the leader of South Korea was losing his power, that Stalin would back him, and that his move would strategically be in the best interests of the communist bloc headed by Stalin. To Kim it was a win-win situation politically as a nationalist movement and militarily. It was a civil war and the two main leaders on opposite sides of each other were Syngman Rhee and Kim II Sung. Syngman Rhee was the leader for the South Korean government and he spend a large portion of his life in the United States. Rhee was imprisoned after the Government over Korea destroyed a club that supported Korean independence and later traveled to the United States upon his release in 1910. He attended and gained his PhD from Princeton and returned to Korea. After a few short years Rhee traveled back to the United States in fear that his opposition to Japanese rule would continue to be an endanger to him. While he was in the United States he became the president for the provisional government of Korea and was a spokesman for Korean Independence. He held this position in the United States for 20 years until a Chinese based set of Koreans took over the position. After WWII, the United States implanted Rhee back into Korea to gather up national support for the provisional government to come. Once Rhee was in power he used strong arm tactics and created a police state for his political purposes. Rhee was not above using assassinations to remain in power. He became a dictator (Jessup 626).
On the other side, Kim II Sung was a military Capitan and he understood the structure needed for a well trained army. He was conditioned by the Soviet Union and instilled the idea of a unified Korea. He also never believed that Korea could be unified peacefully (Goncharov 142). Kim II Sung noticed when United States President Truman pulled U.S. troops out of the Korea due to the increasingly strong arm tactics by Rhee. Kim also saw an opening within the military forces of power in Korea when the Soviet troop movement out of Korea created a vacuum. With the help of Soviet advisors Kim now could create his war machine in push it into motion.
Politically, Kim also saw that Rhee was losing much support due to Rhee’s style of governing. During Rhee’s clamp down on opponents he ended up loosing control of the legislature. Rhee’s tactics were not working and Kim saw this. What Kim perceived was that on the Korea peninsula there were two political ideologies with two leaders. One of them is weak and one of them is strong and that Korea was up for grabs (LaFeber 108).
Kim II Sung knew that he was supposed to rally the country over a nationalist movement. Because of his ties to Mao he knew that he would have to distance himself from Mao. His plan was to move closer to the Soviet military. As stated, they would help train the army and instill discipline. Additionally, Kim met with Stalin seeking supplies from the communist leader. Stalin kept his distance but agreed to supply the means for Kim’s armies to win. Kim made sure that his plan would be agreeable to Stalin (LaFeber 109).
Finally, Kim felt that the strategy that he chose would help Stalin by creating a unified Korea in which could off set the western militarized Japan. Korea would be the counter to the “little’ Marshal plan for Asia.” This would