chapter  Chapter Seven
29 Pages

The Outbreak of the Korean War

WithPeter Lowe

This chapter examines the sequence of developments preceding and following the start of the Korean War. The contacts between South Korea and Taiwan will be considered first and the contribution made by the dispute of Taiwan to the initial stages of fighting in Korea. The Korean War saw the fusing of two crises in East Asia that had been linked but which had been handled separately by the United States to this point, developments in the Korean peninsula and in Taiwan. The United States embassy in Moscow recommended a firm response to the North Korean attack but did not think that the Soviet Union desired a general war. MacArthur went to Korea and assessed the military position. He reported that the South Korean forces were retreating in confusion and that the calibre of leadership had been poor. The South Korean army had been organized as a light defensive force and was faced by a challenge for which it was ill-equipped.