Incheon, South Korea (1950 AD)
The Battle of Inchon was one of the major turning points of the Korean War, and arguably the greatest military victory ever organized under the auspices of the United Nations. It is also the largest amphibious assault undertaken since the end of World War II, and one of the biggest American propaganda coups of the Cold War. The Battle of Inchon ended the early North Korean offensive and nearly drove the Communist forces back into China. Inchon was also the last great military victory planned and led by General Douglas MacArthur.
In the wake of World War II, the Korean Peninsula became divided by the occupying powers of the United States to the south and the Soviet Union to the north. As in Germany, this temporary arrangement soon became permanent, as the Communist north refused to allow a general referendum on reunification. Relations between the two countries broke down, and in June 1950 North Korea invaded the south in an attempt to settle the matter by force.
In response, the newly-formed United Nations flexed its muscle by declaring a police action, and member nations, led by the United States, rushed in military aid. However, the North Korean army moved quickly, and by August had conquered most of the peninsula down to the famous Pusan Perimter in the southeast corner of the country.
Despite the American and United Nations efforts, holding the perimeter was tenuous. Deciding that the best defense was a good offense, the Americans decided to launch an amphibious assault behind the North Korean lines in an effort to cut off their supply. Choosing General Douglas MacArthur, hero of the Pacific War, to lead the attack, the allies chose the strategic port of Inchon as their target.
On September 15, 1950, after several days of preliminary bombing, the mixed American-South Korean force landed. The assault was an overwhelming success. The defending force was routed, and within a few days the Americans had seized Kimpo Airfield, which in turn led to the recapture of Seoul. The unexpected success also led to the collapse of the North Korean army besieging Pusan, and by the end of September almost all of Korea was back in allied hands.
The Battle of Inchon was fought across the Inchon Peninsula, with three separate beach landings and even fighting around a medieval Korean fortress. The most popular sites related to the battle are Pohang Beach, where the largest landing took place, and the fortress on Wolmi-Do Island just offshore from the peninsula. There are a number of battle markers and monuments around the city. These include tributes, largely magnificent statues, of American troops, South Korean troops, and Douglas MacArthur.
The Battlefield sites are scattered around the city center of modern Incheon, approximately twenty miles west of the capital of Seoul. All of the important battlefield destinations are open sites. There is no charge for admission. Web: www.visitseoul.net (official tourism website of Seoul).
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