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  Home>> History>> Prosperity and Decline: 1947-1980>> The Korean War

The Korean War: 1950-1953

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ParadeOver 500 Canadians died during the Korean War when 26,791 served from 1950 to 1953. Albertans were among those who served in Korea, although there are no exact numbers of how many. But it was not only military enlistment that carried an impact in the province. The Korean War set the stage for the larger Cold War that followed, and Alberta became the host of several large scale Cold War efforts that included the Distant Early Warning Line, set up to deter Russian bombers from violating North American air space.

The seeds of the Korean War grew out of an American led effort to gain support against Japan during the Second World War. The United States offered Korea to Russia as a part of the Russian region of control at the Yalta conference in February 1945. The leader of the Soviet Union, Josef Stalin, agreed to this, but did not assist militarily to aid in the war against Japan until after the second atomic bomb had been dropped. Stalin had Soviet troops move into Manchuria and was ready to take the Korean peninsula when the surrender of the Japanese was announced.

The United States proposed that Korea should be divided along the 38th parallel, with the Americans claiming the south and the Soviets claiming the north. Stalin agreed to this, and provided the Communist government of North Korea with significant supplies of military arms and advisors, but the United States did not provide the same military support to the southern part of Korea. Both the USSR and the United States withdrew their military presence from Korea shortly after the end of the war.

By 1949, North Korean's leader, Kim Il Sung, told Stalin he intended to take military action against the south to unite it under his rule. Stalin did not oppose this plan.

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