India’s role in Korean war

Technically, the Korean war is still on as there was never a final end of war peace agreement, but just a temporary armistice was signed.

General info:

  • Korea was divided in to north and south Korea after WW2(it was a colonial possession of Japanese till WW2), with North(Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) adopting socialist government under the influence of USSR and the Pro-west South(Republic of Korea) adopting capitalist economy under the influence of US. The war was fought between UN led by US on the side of South and North Korea assisted by China and USSR.
  • They were divided by the latitude 38th parallel.
  • The war bean in 1950 when soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army invaded south-it was the first military action of the cold war. America saw it as a fight between Socialism and capitalism/democracy.
  • Soon US entered on behalf of South Korea and without heeding to China’s warning crossed the 38th parallel and invaded North’s capital Pyongyang. In a surprising attack, Chinese army launched counter-attack and pushed back US forces back. The war ended in 1953 with an armistice. Technically North and South Korea are still at war with each other.

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India’s role:

  • Nehru was afraid that Korean war would lead to WW3 and that atomic bombs could be used(Soviet also developed ‘the bomb’), this might drag India in to the war. Also as China is its neighbor, it was afraid of the spill over effects.
  • India tried to pacify all sides by mediating the matter between all parties.
  • Apparently, The New York Times declared that the struggle for Asia “could be won or lost in the mind of one man – Jawaharlal Nehru”.
  • India instead of sending its armed forces on the request of UN had sent a medical unit to Korea as a humanitarian gesture, India’s medical services are still fondly remembered in Korea by both sides
  • India was the chairman of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission which would handle the prisoners of war(PoWs) of both sides and interview them to determine which of them wanted to go back.
  • India dispatched a 6000 Indian Custodial Force to Korea.
  • At the end of the war, India did not gain much and received flak from all sides. Relationship with US deteriorated(for not siding with it) and US began giving military-aid to Pakistan.
  • On the other hand, the war elevated Nehru’s prestige to great heights in the world, solidifying his image as world’s leading statesman. For the rest of his life, there was no major global discussion in the world, which could occur without his involvement.
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