June 27, 1950: The UN defends the freedom of South Korea

South Korean Refugees mid-1950s

SAN JOSE, June 27, 2014 — On June 27, 1950, the United Nations Security Council voted to aid the South Korean government in its time of great distress, as the government of Kim Il Sung in North Korea launched a surprise attack upon its southern neighbors. This action of the Security Council was one of the first real tests of the newly established United Nations, which had been chartered less than five years before. The original charter was signed on the 24th of October in 1945. In the midst of the dark days of the most devastating war in human history, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill had hope that there would be a world after the war, and had the audacity to conceive of a world organization that could promote and perpetuate peace and freedom for humankind.

Ironically, on June 25, 1950, the North Korean military thrust across the artificially imposed demarcation boundary of the Korean peninsula in an attempt to ‘re-unify’ Korea. The previous year in 1949, an ally during World War II fell under the domination of Mao Zedong and his communist People’s Army. At this point in time, Joseph Stalin felt confidence to advance his plans in Korea after he had trained and set up Kim Il Sung as the indigenous dictator of the peninsula following WWII. Similar to headlines in the newstoday as ISIS is attempting to carve out a nation state for Islamic terrorists, the world witnessed North Korea forces invade South Korea in an attempt to establish another communist utopia. The United Nations held an emergency session to decide what steps to take.

Unlike the UN today, the Security Council in 1950 was able to take decisive action to intervene in the conflict. Four members of the Security Council voted on June 27, 1950, to unanimously condemn the North Korean invasion of South Korea, and with passed Resolution 82, which requested troops from member nations to assist the Republic of Korea in defending their freedom. This resolution of armed action has only been utilized two other times in the history of the U.N. All other global crises sadly went unattended since the Soviets or the People’s Republic of China used their veto power to deny unanimous consent to take corrective action. Only two additional times in the history of the U.N. was their authorization of coalition forces to intervene for the sake of world security: in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991 and in Libya in 2011.

Amazingy, in this instance, the Security Council was able to act as the representative from the Soviet Union had been boycotting Council meetings as a way of protesting that no permanent seat in the U.N. had been awarded to the People’s Republic of China. The remaining four members of the Security Council, France, Nationalist China (the Soviets were able to replace this nation with the communist PRC eventually), the United Kingdom, and the United States were thus able to bypass Soviet interference in the action. It was the way the U.N. Security Council was conceived to operate as it was chartered. Yet, this serious mistake from the Soviet officials would not be repeated. Unfortunately, trusting the Soviet Union as a member of the Security Council proved to be like trusting a wolf to protect the hen house.

To Joseph Stalin, the power to veto or stifle any collective U.N. action regarding police action or international security was too good to be true, and he was usually able to take whatever military action he wanted without worrying about retribution – and he did. They would not be absent from Security Council votes in the future. Stalin had initially appeared to the world as wanting the same thing as the rest of the freedom-loving world.  However, first and foremost, he wanted the defeat of Hitler, but before this in 1939, he had been a secret ally of Hitler. A revealing indication of Stalin’s true regard for other nations occurred in a secret “non-aggression” agreement that the Soviet government entered into with the Nazi government of Adolf Hitler.

Although this was a devious lie, Winston Churchill even fell for it, as he declared in October of 1939, that the Red Army invaded Poland to protect Russia from the ‘the Nazi menace.’ However from this point, the USSR became publically more pro-Nazi and began using rhetoric to denounce Britain and France for creating a war to maintain the capitalistic system under the Treaty of Versailles. Stalin only changed his tune when Hitler broke the pact and invaded Mother Russia. It was only after he recovered from such a shock, that Stalin joined with the Allied forces. However, after WWII, Stalin was quite pleased with the Soviet’s seat as a permanent member of the Security Council with veto power and the ability to retain Soviet troops in Eastern European nations and in North Korea without any U.N. interference.

The Soviet Union was able to demand the separation of Eastern and Western Germany and to initiate building of the Berlin Wall without any U.N. interference. The Soviet Union was able to influence the overthrow the Nationalist government of China and the formation of the People’s Republic of China.  The Soviet Union was able to initiate the North Korean invasion of South Korea. Their puppet dictator, Kim Il-sung, was given the green light for the invasion of South Korea. According to historical records obtained from the old Soviet empire after its fall, in April of 1950, Stalin gave the nod to Kim Il Sung to invade South Korea if the newly formed People’s Republic of China under Mao Zedong would agree to send reinforcements if they became needed.

Then by May of 1950, Kim Il Sung met with Mao. Although Mao had some concerns that the United States would interfere with the communist plans, he agreed to support the North Korean invasion for several reasons. Initially, thousands of North Koreans had been sent by Kim after WWII to support Mao during the Chinese Revolution. Additionally, the People’s Republic of China viewed Western nations, especially the U.S., as the most serious threat to its survival. China in the time was also desperately dependent upon Soviet economic and military support to grow. Another reason was that the PRC wanted to increase its stature within the global Communist realm by encouraging communist revolutions in bordering nations, but neither Stalin nor Mao wanted a direct war with America.

With the commitment of Mao established, North Korean preparations for war intensified. American forces that had been stationed in South Korea had completed their withdrawal by June of 1949. Then, experienced Soviet generals from WWII were sent as advisors, and by May of 1950, they had completed plans for the ensuing attack. Taking a page of historical provocation from the Japanese Imperial military, the original plans included an instigated skirmish, which would be viewed as originating from the South Koreans, the North would have launched a ‘counterattack’ and an attempt to quickly capture the capital city of Seoul. However, Kim Il Sung requested a direct attack across the 38th parallel because he was afraid South Korean agents had discovered the devious plans.

The real victory for freedom was when the U.N. could accomplish its true purpose under its charter and enabled President Harry Truman committed U.S. forces to assist in what he called a ‘police action.’ This was a bit of a surprise to the Soviets as they had calculated that the U.S. would not intervene because the Truman Administration had not intervened to help Nationalist China during the communist takeover by Mao Zedong. The Soviet-backed invasion would have completely destroyed the South Korean military and the democratic government in the South. However, with the absence of the Soviet representative to the U.N. Security Council during the critical vote, and Truman’s determination, the South Korean people were spared a complete communist takeover.

So around this time of year in 1950, Truman made a grave decision to assist the U.N. and commit American armed forces to help a little country across the Pacific. To many Americans younger than 50, this so called “Korean Conflict” may not be viewed as significant as the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. In fact, this conflict was a global war even though it has often been referred to as the ‘Forgotten War.’ When one considers that the Soviet Union, a member of the United Nations and holding a seat on the Security Council, initiated an unprovoked attack upon a democratic nation, it is entirely counter to the charter of the U.N. This aggression was supported by the PRC which was applying for membership to the peacekeeping body.  Ironically, the PRC still refer to the war as the ‘War to Resist U.S. Aggression and aid Korea.’

If one makes a simple comparison, this tragedy can be viewed as worse than the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 or the September 11, 2001 attack upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It has been estimated that the North Korean Army executed about 500,000 civilians during the Korean War. The initial invasion uprooted thousands upon thousands of refugees fleeing from the communist aggression. Many South Korean men were killed during North Korea’s attempt to conscript them into their military. Sadly, in the occupied areas, North Korean Army political officers executed any South Korean educated individuals whether they were teachers, academics, governmental officials, or religious leaders. They were seen as ideological threats, and viewed as potential resistance leaders against the North.

Such horrible reality seems to be lost today as the world moves forward. Yet, in this new millennium, the U.S. is again witnessing several examples of how dangerous the planet still is: the horrible attacks in 2001, those in Benghazi on 9/11 in 2011, and the current unrest in the Middle East.

Since the time of the Korean War, the U.N. has not adequately functioned as a legitimate peacekeeping body. In retrospect, if the United States had not assisted the U.N. at this dark time in history, the South Korean people would have been subjugated to complete communist domination. Unfortunately, the U.S. has had to bear a most disproportionate burden of the vision of F.D.R. and Churchill. Truly, freedom comes at a high cost.

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Dennis Jamison reinvented his life after working for a multi-billion dollar division of Johnson & Johnson for several years. Now semi-retired, he is an adjunct faculty member at West Valley College in California. He currently writes a column on US history and one on American freedom for the Communities Digital News, as well as writing for other online publications. During the 2016 presidential primaries, he worked as the leader of a network of writers, bloggers, and editors who promoted the candidacy of Dr. Ben Carson. He founded the “We the People” Network of writers and the Citizen Sentinels Project to pro-actively promote the values and principles established at the founding of the United States, and to discover and support more morally centered citizen-candidates who sincerely seek election as public servants, not politicians.