2020 will undoubtedly go down in human history as the year of the beginning of many changes. Changes in politics, economics, ideology … Over the past years, we have invented too many myths and fairy tales. We began to believe not what we see with our own eyes, but what we are told, written, shown. We changed our memory to "the modern point of view on …"
Many events that took place before our eyes or the eyes of our fathers and grandfathers, we now perceive in a different way. We were told so! We, former Soviet people, are enraged by the West's attitude to the history of World War II. It is very unpleasant for us when our grandfathers are turned from liberators into invaders. I often hear a terrible phrase from young people: “Why was it necessary to give so many soldiers' lives for Warsaw, Prague, Berlin and so on? It was necessary to act as allies. It was necessary to erase the cities and fortifications of the fascists with carpet bombing”.
We ourselves did not even notice when such a change in our consciousness took place. "To live with wolves is to howl like a wolf." In a fight with a beast, we ourselves are ready to act like beasts.
Coronavirus, the oil war, the collapse of the world economy … A lot of problems that somehow took the top topic into the shadows until recently - the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Victory. But there are other dates that should be remembered forever. Today I decided to remind you of one of these dates. At 4 a.m. on June 25, the bloodiest war in the history of the 20th century after World War II began.
I did not specify the year on purpose. In order for readers to remember this event on their own. The war began on June 25, 1950! It was then, almost 70 years ago, that the Korean War of 1950-1953 began. A war that was not based on any territorial, interethnic, religious, clan, cultural or economic conflicts.
Korea before World War II
Even today, many Europeans do not really understand why Korea existed at all and remained independent alongside such powerful states as Russia, China, and Japan. The Korean Peninsula is a truly mouth-watering bite. But only when the neighbor has a full-fledged military fleet and ambitions to conquer foreign territories.
For a long time, the Korean civilization existed separately from its neighbors. Koreans were a monolithic nation with their own traditions, way of life, and culture. In modern language, such a state would be called original. At the same time, the rulers of Korea perfectly understood that they would not be able to resist their neighbors and never thought about external expansion.
But the neighbors periodically captured some parts of this country and established their dominance there. Japan especially tried in this. The samurai used Korea as a source of raw materials and cheap labor. At the end of the 19th century, Japan was the first of Korea's neighbors to embark on the path of modernization. And it was here that an understanding of the importance of the territory of Korea for this state appeared.
But the same understanding came to the governments of other countries. Given the proximity of Korea, the Chinese were the first to get involved in the fight for this country with Japan. The result of the confrontation was the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895. This war is sometimes called the Japan-Manchu War. Then the Japanese badly battered the Chinese army. Japan received not only material compensation for the outbreak of the war, but also quite serious territories.
The second war is known to us much more. The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. Here I will allow myself to remind the readers of one fact, for some reason hushed up by historians. We have never paid an indemnity. We have lost the war. But they lost less in killed and captured than the Japanese. We spent less money than Japan. And a peace treaty, in my opinion, does not look like a treaty between a winner and a loser, but rather like a not very successful treaty between equal partners.
Having put competitors in their place, but realizing that this was not the last war for Korea, Japan began direct genocide of Koreans from 1910-1912. In modern terms, the Japaneseization of Koreans was carried out. Korean holidays and the Korean language were banned. For performing ceremonies according to Korean customs, prison was imposed. Persecution on faith began.
This policy of the Japanese naturally led to the emergence of dissatisfaction among the Koreans and the emergence of resistance. Guerrilla groups led by Kim Il Sung began to harass the Japanese military. The Japanese responded by increasing their military presence. The situation began to develop in a circle. But the uprising in Korea did not start. The Japanese war machine and the brutality of the punishments did their job.
Post-war actions of the USSR and the USA
Even before the end of the war, the USSR and the United States began to think about the fate of Korea. Both us and the Americans were interested in this country. The fact is that by its defeat, Japan relinquished control over all previously occupied territories. This means that Korea was becoming the key to the Far East. The problem was solved in the same way as it was done in Germany. The country was simply divided into Soviet and American zones of occupation along the 38th parallel. The north went to the USSR, the south to the USA.
In some sources, one can find the opinion that the Soviet Union and the United States deliberately went to the division of Korea with the aim of the subsequent creation of two states. To argue on this issue is stupid. Speculation is always just speculation, but the fact that it was the United States who planned such a division and it was the Americans who proposed it is a fact. Here are lines from President Truman's published memoir:
"… the project of dividing Korea along the 38th parallel was proposed by the American side."
On August 13, 1945, the commander of the American forces in the Far East, General MacArthur, instructed the commander of the 24th corps, Hodge, to accept the surrender of the Japanese army and occupy South Korea. By the way, in some American publications exactly September 1945 is called the beginning of the Korean War. Why September? Simply because it was at this time that American troops occupied these territories without encountering any resistance.
What did the Americans and we hope for? What is the point of tearing the country apart and at the same time declaring an imminent reunification? It is difficult to answer this question unequivocally. But it seems to me that the whole point is in the prospects for the further development of the world. Stalin believed that the authority of the USSR was so great that countries, with appropriate assistance, would themselves choose the socialist path of development, while Truman counted on establishing domination in the world with the help of atomic weapons.
This can explain the loyal attitude of both sides to the formation of local government bodies that are clearly pro-communist in the north and pro-American in the south.
Preparing for war
The Americans actually began preparations for war in the fall of 1945. It was in November 1945 that the "National Defense Command" of Korea was established in the American zone of occupation. In fact, the leadership of the units being formed, military training, and supplies were carried out by the United States; military equipment was also supplied by the USA. American officers and sergeants commanded Korean units and units. The Americans were tasked with achieving a tenfold superiority over the northerners.
In 1946, a government was formed in the South under the leadership of Rhee Seung Man. In response, the northerners formed the government of Kim Il Sung. Both governments claimed full power in Korea.
It should be admitted that the Soviet-American commission tried to find a solution to this problem. But the Cold War interfered. In fact, the situation has reached an impasse. The Americans decided to legitimize the Syngman Rhee government and held elections in the southern part of the country on May 10, 1948. The Republic of Korea was proclaimed on August 15 of the same year. In response, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was proclaimed on September 9, 1948, led by Kim Il Sung.
Here, I think, the necessary footnote should be made. Explain the terms "legitimacy" and "legality". The fact is that from the frequent use of these words, many confuse their meaning.
Legitimacy is the people's voluntary recognition of power. Recognition of the power of the right to make decisions on behalf of the people. Legality is the recognition of the rule of law. The real action of the law: "the law is bad, but it is the law." This is above all. When the government acts precisely on behalf of the law, and not on behalf of the people.
After both governments were formed, the occupation troops began to withdraw from the territory of the DPRK first (1948), then the ROK (1949). At the same time, the armies of the republics received weapons, equipment and equipment left by Soviet and American soldiers and officers. The South received equipment for 50,000 soldiers, the North for 180,000.
In general, during the occupation of the USSR, the DPRK turned into a fairly developed country. Kim Il Sung clearly acted according to Stalin's instructions. Twice as small in terms of population, the DPRK significantly surpassed the ROK in terms of economic development and the standard of living of the people. North Korea had a well-armed army.
Let me give you a few figures. DPRK: 10 infantry divisions, 242 T-34 tanks, 176 SU-76s, 210 aircraft (Yak-9, Il-10, Il-2). RK: The size of the army is half that, 22 combat aircraft, 27 armored vehicles. The only thing that can be compared is the fleet. Roughly the same on both sides.
Instead of a conclusion
Neither the Soviet nor the American leadership wanted an open confrontation. That is why the Soviet and American armies were evacuated from the Korean Peninsula. However, the ambitions of both Korean leaders were not taken into account. Both Kim Il Sung and Lee Seung Man were hungry for power. Full power over the entire territory of Korea.
But the Soviet and American governments by 1950 allowed a military solution to the problems that had arisen. Moreover, after his meetings with Kim Il Sung, Stalin was confident of a quick victory for the northerners, while the United States was confident that they would be able to attract UN troops to the "operation to pacify" the DPRK. By 1950, Moscow and Washington already understood the strategic importance of the Korean Peninsula.
There is usually little talk about another factor. Despite the victory of the Chinese communists in the civil war, Mao already did not agree with Stalin on everything and pursued his own foreign policy. He did not consider it shameful to interfere in the affairs of other countries. Naturally, in order to "help the brothers to establish the people's power."
Bottom line: the war in Korea is a product of the political confrontation between the two systems that began then.