Skip to Content

50 Years Ago: Who are the Victors in Korea?

Korean Armistice
AFTER three years of war—the last two years of it accompanied by bargaining between the leaders of the two sides—an armistice has been signed in Korea. As the smoke drifts away from the last shell and the last bomb, as the last wounded are taken to hospital and the last dead are buried, the conflict is continued in the statements put out by each side. The boastfulness of the United Nations leaders claiming that the war has ended in a victory for them is equalled only by the boastfulness of the Russian and Chinese Governments claiming the same thing. But what are the real results of the war? Who has gained, and who has lost?

The balance-sheet
On the Soviet side the war was fought by the soldiers of China and North Korea. On the United Nations side, the troops were supplied by South Korea, the United States, and sixteen other nations. One has only to read the casualty-lists to know that the peoples of these countries, at any rate, lost by the war. The Commonwealth countries lost one thousand dead and five times that number wounded and prisoners. The Americans had twenty-three thousand dead, and more than a hundred thousand wounded. The casualties of the Chinese and North Korean armies have been estimated at two million (Times, 28-7-53). As for North Korean people, they were subjected to one of the heaviest bombardments of modern times by American planes; and of the ten million North Koreans at the beginning of the war, John Foster Dulles, the U.S. Secretary of State, now calculates that one in three have died as a result of the war (Times, 28-7-53). It is difficult to find an estimate of the South Korean casualties, but they can scarcely be low, since the original South Korean Army was largely destroyed in the first North Korean advance; and towards the end of the war the South Korean Army, reconstituted by the Americans, was holding three-quarters of the line and was bearing the brunt of repeated Chinese attacks. Altogether, some five million people at the very least, must have died in the Korean peninsula as the result of the war.

The Socialist attitude
To Socialists, Korea is a demonstration of the brutality of capitalist states struggling among themselves; a reminder that war is the only final arbiter of the differences which are inevitable under capitalism; and a foretaste of what is in store if the rulers of each side decide on another “big” war.

(From an article by A.W.E., Socialist Standard, September 1953)