Why UN Forces Defended Pusan Perimeter in the 1950 Korean War Essay

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The Decisive Factors in the UN Forces’ Defense of the Pusan Perimeter in the 1950 Korean War GOV-­‐451 Kyle Gaines 11/19/12


1 “Battle of Pusan Perimeter,” Wikipedia Series on the Korean War, (Wikipedia, 4 September
2012). <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pusan_Perimeter_Sept_4.jpg>


1. Introduction Historical Context and Overview of the Korean War The Korean War is also known as the “forgotten war” because of the relative dearth of scholarship and writing on the subject.2 Despite this scarcity however, the Korean War was a tremendously significant conflict with Asian security implications lasting until the present day. The Korean War was the first proxy war that was a part of the overarching struggle between the United States and the USSR. Although the USSR contributed advisers and military resources to the conflict, no Soviet soldiers physically engaged in combat operations. Conversely, American soldiers formed a critical component of the UN coalition that reacted in response to North Korean aggression.

This conflict began on 25 June 1950, when North Korean People’s Army (NKPA) forces crossed the 38th parallel with the support of a massive artillery barrage and Russian advisers without warning.3 After this action, the U.N. responded with a call to arms, and a coalition of nations including the Republic of Korea (ROK), The United States, Britain, Australia and Japan committed troops and resources to the defense of South Korea.4 The UN commitment of troops and American efforts to stem the North Korean advance led to the creation of the defensive perimeter called Pusan by August 1st under US Eighth Army General Walton Walker5(See Figure 2). The war had changed character, and no longer was the primarily American and South Korean force relying on ineffective weapons and a lack of armor to stem the tide of a relatively well-­‐organized and equipped enemy.6

Miraculously, the under equipped and ill prepared UN force was able to hold the


Harry G Summers, Jr., Korean War Almanac, (New York, NY: Facts on File Inc., 1990). Xiii
Ibid. xiii
Ibid. xiv
Edwin P. Hoyt, The Pusan Perimeter, Korea, 1950, (Briarcliff Manor, NY: Stein and Day
Publishers, 1984). 139
Ibid. 139


NKPA at the Pusan Perimeter, which bought time for Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s famous Inchon invasion on 15 September 1950.7 8

Figure 8