War in Korea
When World War II ended, Korea became a divided nation. North of the 38th parallel, a line that
crosses Korea at 38 degrees north latitude, the
Japanese surrendered to the Soviets. South of that
line, the Japanese surrendered to the Allies.
As in Germany, two nations developed. The
Soviet Union supported a Communist government
in North Korea. The United States supported a
non-Communist government in South Korea. On
June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea.
President Truman fought this move with help from
the UN. The United States and other countries sent
troops to assist South Korea. At first, the North
Korean army captured almost all of South Korea.
Then the UN army made a bold counterattack.
The attack was led by General Douglas
MacArthur. In 1953, the two Koreas agreed to a
cease-fire. The earlier boundary splitting North
and South Korea remained the same.
North Korea had a Communist government. It
had a strong army and tight government control,
but it also had many economic problems. For more
than 30 years, dictators ruled South Korea. But its
economy grew, in part because it received U.S. aid.
Free elections were held in South Korea after a
new constitution was adopted in 1987.
How was Korea divided?
War Breaks Out in Vietnam; The United States Get Involved
A nationalist named Ho Chi Minh drove the
French out of Vietnam. This worried the United
States because Ho had turned to the Communists
for help. Many Americans thought if one country
became Communist, others would also, like a row
of dominoes. This idea is known as the domino
theory. A peace conference split Vietnam in two,
with Ho taking charge of North Vietnam. The country had a Communist government. Communist
rebels - the Vietcong - stayed active in the South.
The non-Communist government of the South
had been set up by the United States and France.
Its leader was Ngo Dinh Diem. When his government was threatened by Communists, the
United States began to send troops. When they
could not win the war on the ground, they tried
bombing. Many people in the United States came
to oppose the war.
How did the United States get involved in Vietnam?
Postwar Southeast Asia
In the late 1960s, President Richard Nixon
began a plan called Vietnamization. This plan
called for a gradual pullout of U.S. troops. At the
same time, the South Vietnamese increased their
combat role. The last American troops left in 1973.
Two years later, North Vietnam overran the South
and made Vietnam one country again. Today,
Vietnam remains Communist but is looking for
other nations to invest in its economy.
Fighting in Vietnam spilled over into Vietnam's
neighbor, Cambodia. Rebels there were known as
the Khmer Rouge. They set up a brutal Communist
government. The Khmer Rouge killed 2 million people. In 1978, the Vietnamese invaded the country.
They overthrew the Khmer Rouge. Vietnam withdrew in 1989. In 1993, Cambodia held free elections
for the first time.
What happened in Vietnam after the United States withdrew?