Colonel´s Parallell

The allied victory over Japan bestows the lion’s

share of credit to the United States. But also to be

pointed out is that the Soviet Union, who acquired a free hand after the German capitulation in

Europe, declared war on virtually beaten Japan

on August 8, 1945, and the 1st Far East Front, in

co-operation with the Baikal assets supported

by Mongolian and Chinese communist Liberation

Armies quickly moved through Manchuria. What

emerged was a threat that the communists,

under the leadership of Marshal A. M. Vasilevskiy, would gain control of the entire Korean peninsula with minimal effort. For the Americans,

it was a longer walk to Korea, and they could

only hope that the Soviet Union would accept

a proposal put forth by Colonels Dean Rusk (1 and

Charles H. Bonesteel III (2 to create two administering parts divided by the 38th Parallel. The

hopes were justified. Practically no sooner had

the Koreans rid themselves of Japanese tyranny, the country was torn in two. The Soviet Union

wasted no time in exporting communist ideology

through its protégé and former Red Army Major

Kim Sung-Ghua, better known as Kim ir-sen. The

demarcation line, intended originally only as an

administrative separation of zones under Soviet

and American control following the Japanese

capitulation, and to administer items such as

the movement of material and prisoners, soon

became a regular border. As the situation deteriorated between the former allies, so did the

situation on the peninsula.

The two Koreas also found themselves in a deteriorating relationship. As a result, on November

14, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly

adopted Resolution 112/II establishing the UN

Commission on Korea (UNTCK). This was to provide for free elections, but ultimately, only South

Korea set the conditions for these to take place.

From the May elections that followed, under the

supervision of the UN Commission, a parliament

emerged, which then elected a president on July

20, 1948. His name was I Sung-man (generally

referred to as Syngman Rhee in English language transcripts). He was forced to flee Korea

in 1912 in the face of Japanese aggression, and

after moving to the United States, he studied at

Harvard and Princeton Universities. After his

appointment, he declared the Republic of Korea,

and made no secrets about his desire for reunification. In the North, of course, there arose

“Peoples’ Committees” to purge North Korea of

all “reactionaries” and “enemies of the state and

people”. Under these conditions, local elections were held on August 25. However, in keeping with communist ideals of democracy, there was only one candidate, namely Kim Ir-sen.

He immediately proclaimed the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, finalizing the division

of the Korean peninsula. While the Soviet Union

fully armed and, through advisors, trained the

North Korean army, the United States generally

regarded South Korea as outside of its realm of

interest in the geographical area. As expressed

on January 12, 1950, US Secretary of State Dean

Acheson, the United States was willing to extend

protection only to Japan, Okinawa and the Philippines. The same sentiment was echoed earlier

by General Douglas MacArthur, the top allied

military official in postwar Japan. This all led to

North Korean officials to the interpretation that

the door to occupying the southern part of the

peninsula was wide open, and that the United

States wouldn’t lift a finger to stop them.

The South Korean army was an essentially lightly armed force, ill-equipped to resist the force of ten divisions, two mechanized regiments

and an independent tank brigade with 258

T-34/85s and Su-76 self propelled howitzers.

The air force, under the leadership of Major General Wang Yon, had 239 aircraft, out of which

at least 122 were combat. These assets were

spread out over a fighter, ground attack and

training regiment. The inventory sported the

Yak-9P and Il-10, with the older Yak-7s and La-7s

having been retired by the time the attack took

place. In some Il-10s on captured airfields, flight

manuals were found which had notes written

in them in Russian right up to June 27, and so

were delivered before the invasion. In all, some

190,000 men at arms were massed, along with

a huge number of Chinese ‘Peoples’ volunteers’

that were ready to deploy in aid of their ideologically sympathetic neighbor.

The Attack

North Korea took its southern neighbor completely by surprise. Not so much by the attack itself, because many experts and observers were

more or less expecting it, but by the overall scope of the entire operation. Very early morning on

Sunday, June 25, 1950, virtually the entire North

Korean army went into swift action, supported

by artillery and eventually, the air force as well.

The lightly armed South Koreans could do little

in the face of such a force, lacking a tank force,

artillery and air assets. It was nothing short of

a miracle that what South Korea could muster

in defense bravely held a line for three days that

prevented the taking of Seoul. However, North

One of the first…

personal aircraft

of Major Dean

Hess with the

Korean inscription

“With Faith I Fly”.

photo: U.S. Air Force

July 2022

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