In 1945 after the end of World War II and the dissolution of the Axis powers (Germany, Japan and Italy), Korea, which was previously under Japan's rule, became occupied by both the United States andthe Soviet Union. The nation was divided along the 38th parallel into the North and South --North Korea went under Soviet control, and South Korea was placed under U.S. governance.
Korea was alsodivided along ideological lines. South Korea was established as a democracy in the Western tradition, and North Korea soon took on the mantle of the Soviet Union's communist regime under Josef Stalin,that nation's totalitarian dictator.
On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded the South in hopes of spreading its form of government. This act immediately spurred a strong condemnation from the UnitedNations and a call for support of the South.
On June 27, President Truman answered that call and sent American troops to the region; they were soon joined by forces from 15 other nations. Americangeneral Douglas MacArthur, five years removed from his World War II leadership success, was appointed by Truman to be supreme commander of the entire allied effort.
The North garnered support as well--massive amounts of artillery from the Soviets and waves of troops from Communist China.
The campaign soon turned into a brutal war of attrition, ultimately settling into the 38th parallel. An armisticewas signed on July 27, 1953, but only after devastating casualties: in addition to over 30,000 American soldiers losing their lives, close to 4 million Korean soldiers and civilians were killed aswell.
The conflict also had the resounding effect of amplifying the noise of the cold war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, with North Korea consolidating its power as a Soviet-backed militarydictatorship and the South a U.S.- supported democracy.
Today, under totalitarian dictator Kim Jong Il (also known as the Dear Leader), North Korea continues to function as a secretive, militaristic...
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