On June 25, 1950, the Korean conflict began when North Korea invaded South Korea. Five days later, the United States joined the conflict to assist South Korea.
In Spetember 1950, Proceedings reprinted a short article from the Navy Public Relations News Letter, titled “Why We are fighting in Korea”, which concisely listed the crucial events that led to the Korean Conflict and prompted U. S. involvement:
Let’s review “by the numbers” what happened from about a year and a half after the Joint Commission was set up until the Soviet-trained North Koreans attacked the Republic of Korea.
1. In August 1947, Secretary of State Marshall proposed a four-power conference at which China and United Kingdom would join United States and Soviet Union to seek agreement on independence of Korea. The Soviet Union rejected the proposal.
2. Then in September, the United States asked the General Assembly of the United Nations to consider the problem. The Soviet Union opposed the suggestion.
3. The General Assembly, by a resolution on 14 November 1947, created the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea. The General Assembly recommended that elections be held, not later than 31 March 1948, to choose Korean representatives, who would make up a National Assembly and would establish a National Government of Korea. Once the new Korean government was established, it would set up its own armed forces and the forces of the occupying powers would be withdrawn, if possible, within 90 days. The Soviet representative refused to vote on the resolution.
4. Under the observation of the United Nations Temporary Commission, elections were held in South Korea on 10 May 1948. Two hundred members of the new National Assembly were elected, and 100 additional seats were kept open, to be filled by representatives from North Korea. The new Assembly adopted a resolution urging the people of the northern zone to hold free elections of representatives to join with those of the southern zone in setting up a provisional government. The Soviets, however, prevented the United Nations Temporary Commission from entering North Korea.
5. On 25 June 1948, the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea adopted a resolution stating that the election held in the southern zone was a “valid expression of the free will of the electorate in those parts of Korea which were accessible to the Commission and in which the inhabitants constituted approximately two-thirds of the people of all Korea.”
6. About three weeks later (12 July 1948), the Korean National Assembly adopted a Constitution—the Constitution of the Republic of Korea. The following month, the Republic’s new president, Syngman Rhee, took over the reins of government from the United States Army Military Government in Korea. President Truman announced that the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) would assume administration of relief and rehabilitation funds previously administered by the Department of the Army. Plans were made for the withdrawal of United States troops.
7. In August 1948, Soviet-type elections were held in the northern zone. The elections were not observed by the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea. It was learned, however, that only a very small number of persons even received ballots. A Supreme People’s Council was then set up, but not in accordance with procedures outlined in the 14 November 1947 resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly. In September the Council established the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” claiming authority over the entire country. The Soviet Union and its satellites promptly granted recognition to this regime.
The U.S.S.R. announced that Soviet troops would be withdrawn from Korea by end of year. Meanwhile, they continued to train Korean military forces, thousands of whom had served for years with Chinese Communist forces in North China and Manchuria and with Soviet Far Eastern Army.
8. On 12 December 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved a report of the Temporary Commission on the elections in Korea and declared the government in South Korea a lawful government—the only lawful government in Korea. The vote was 48 to 6. The United Nations General Assembly recommended that the two occupying powers withdraw their forces as early as practicable, and it established a new Commission on Korea to replace the Temporary Commission. The new Commission was directed to try to bring about the unification of Korea under a representative government freely determined by its people.
9. On 1 January 1949, the United States extended recognition to the Republic of Korea. More than 30 other states have done the same. In April, the United States supported the new Republic’s application to the Security Council for membership in the United Nations. The vote was 9 to 2 in favor of admitting the new Republic, but the Soviet Union and the Ukraine opposed the action. Because the Soviet Union is a permanent member, its opposing vote constituted a veto.
10. In 1949, as in 1948, the Commission was unsuccessful in its attempts to discuss problems with the northern authorities or to negotiate through the Government of the U.S.S.R. The barrier between the North and the South was a discouragingly familiar “iron curtain.” It sealed off the vital economic, social, and other friendly intercourse so necessary to peace.
11. The Commission observed the withdrawal of United States forces on 19 June 1949, but was not permitted by the Soviets to observe the withdrawal of their occupation forces. The Soviet’s refusal was in defiance of the United Nations resolution on Korea, which directed the Commission to observe and verify the withdrawal of all occupation troops.
12. The border of the 38th parallel was the scene of increasingly frequent exchanges of fire and armed raids until 25 June 1950, when the Commission reported to the United Nations that North Korean forces had launched attacks all along the 38th parallel.
13. When members of the Security Council got word of the attack on the Republic of Korea, all except the Soviet representative rushed to Lake Success for an emergency meeting requested by the United States. They acted swiftly on one of the bluntest resolutions ever presented in the United Nations. Besides requesting North Korean forces to stop their attack and withdraw, they called upon all members to give “every assistance to the United Nations” in putting the resolution into effect and to “refrain from giving assistance to the North Koreans.”
14. On 27 June 1950 President Truman announced that he had ordered United States Air and Sea Forces to give the Korean government troops cover and support. On the same day, the United Nations Security Council voted to ask all United Nations members to help the Republic of Korea “repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security in the area.”
15. On 30 June the President authorized the use of U. S. ground troops in fighting.