Resist America, Support Korea

Chinese Poster During the Korean War

The ongoing fracas in Korea is also about China, US relations. Big US boats are acting tough in the East China Sea; they’ve got South Korea’s back. China is asking for everyone to call bygones bygones and sit down for tea; they’ve got North Korea’s.

So while the current situation is defined by it’s own circumstances, It’s worth reflecting, if only to show how much has changed, that Korea is the site of perhaps the darkest point of Chinese-American relations. It was, after all, in Korea that Chinese and American soldiers shot and killed each other during the Korean War.

A bit of history: America and the Soviet Union divided up the Korean peninsula following the defeat of Japan, who had been occupying the country since before 1900, at the end of WWII. The Russians administered the country north of the 38th parallel, America south. Ideology followed country; communist government was established in the North, capitalist democracy in the south. Political opposition was harshly punished in both. Efforts at unification failed to overcome ideological fears.

After years of occupation and little consent from the governed, by 1949 both Russia and America had officially pulled out. Not long after in 1950 the North invaded the South. With consent from the UN, America intervened. US troops quickly took back most of the South. When they made the decision to continue North of the 38th parallel, China decided to step in. The war ended with an Armistice in 1953, though there is still no peace treaty.

It’s well understood in the west that America’s involvement was ideological, fearing the spread of communism. But it was no less ideological in China. There, the war was known as, “The War to Resist America and Support Korea.” It wasn’t just about protecting a friend, but about saving the world from capitalism. The country was even mobilized for war under the slogan, “Resist America, Support Korea.”

Just some history to keep in mind as the current drama unfolds.

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