UVic historian says Korean War is losing its status as Canada’s Forgotten War

The Korean War of 1950-1953 continued to shed its status as Canada’s Forgotten War, as current events and ongoing research on the Korean peninsula have changed the historical understanding of the conflict.

David Zimmerman, who teaches military history at the University of Victoria, said the Korean War became Canada’s forgotten war because it was close to a much larger World War II, in which Canadian soldiers and casualties were far higher .

According to official figures, 516 Canadian soldiers serve in South Korea. That’s 400 fewer Canadians than the number of Canadians who died on Dieppe Beach in a single day in August 1942. But when measured in material, human and casualty terms, Canada’s contribution to the Korean conflict pales in comparison to its contribution to the First War. As Canada prepares to mark the 70th anniversary of the armistice on the Korean peninsula in July 1953, several new books have made the conflict more comprehensive.

The conflict itself is just as important to those who serve and suffer in it.

“The fighting in South Korea was very bad,” Zimmerman said. “It was bad, sometimes as bad as the trench warfare of World War I.”

North and South Korea are technically still at war after communist troops first crossed the dividing line on the Korean peninsula to forcibly reunite the peninsula after it was divided into Soviet and Western territories after World War II, a conflict that has continued for more than 72 years.

As such, the Korean War, which killed a total of 3 million people, was a hot spot in the early days of the Cold War, with repercussions extending beyond Asia to include deepening divisions in Europe and the eventual rearmament of West and East Germany, each embedded with opposing militaries. alliance. The Korean War itself could also nearly lead to World War III, as U.S. generals mused about the use of nuclear weapons when Communist China came to save North Korea.

While the early stages of the war saw sudden military gains and reversals for both communist and UN forces, a stalemate was eventually reached roughly along the original starting line, with the armistice largely confirming the status quo.

But unlike East Germany and the rest of the Soviet bloc, North Korea survived the Cold War and subsequently acquired nuclear weapons at a huge cost starting in the 1990s, costing its starving population dearly, giving the country global clout far beyond its actual economic capacity.

“The tensions have been high for the past year or so and God knows what the North Koreans are playing,” Zimmerman said. “They must be playing a very, very dangerous game and I don’t think anyone can predict what will happen.”

Currently, North Korea remains under the tight control of Beijing. Zimmerman said China’s aggressive posture toward Taiwan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including the threat of nuclear weapons, has also drawn a lot of attention.

But at the same time, the “intensity of the confrontational policy” pursued by North Korea suggests that the public should also pay more attention to the Korean peninsula, he added.

That said, he also cautioned against comparing the war between Russia and Ukraine to the war between North Korea.

They represent very different situations and it is difficult to draw any direct connection.

“There’s always this element of chance, there’s always this element of uncertainty (in war), and one of the mistakes historians make is when people like you ask them to predict what’s going to happen , my prediction is that I don’t know.”

Do you have story hints? Email: [email protected]

follow us Twitter and instagram, like us Facebook.

Memorial Day

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *