Rethinking the Korean War: A New Diplomatic and Strategic History

By William Stueck | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Why the Korean War, Not the Korean Civil War?

THE KOREAN WAR BEGAN IN THE PREDAWN HOURS OF JUNE 25, 1950, a rainy Sunday along the two-hundred-mile boundary between North and South Korea. At around 4:00 A.M. North Korean units positioned just north of the thirty-eighth parallel on the isolated Ongjin Peninsula launched an artillery barrage against ROK forces to the south. A North Korean ground attack followed shortly thereafter. Moving eastward, at about 5:00 A.M. North Korean artillery started shelling Kaesong, Korea's ancient capital located two miles below the thirtyeighth parallel. A half hour after that, the major thrust of the invasion began along two roads down the Uijonbu Corridor headed toward Seoul. North Korean attacks also occurred in the center of the peninsula directed at Chunchon and on the east coast. 1

The invasion achieved complete tactical surprise. Many South Korean officers and their American advisers in the five-hundred-man Korean Military Advisory Group were away from their units on weekend passes. Most of the four divisions and one regiment in the ROK army

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