Battle of Pusan Perimeter, The First Major Conflict in the Korean War

Dug-In American Soldiers Firing on North Korean Positions during the battle

Pusan Perimeter

The Battle of Pusan Perimeter took place in the fall of 1950 and was one of the first major conflicts of the Korean War.

The North Korean army was invading South Korea and attacking the forces sent by the United Nations. These troops were composed of those sent by not only the United States and Great Britain but also South Korea, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Eventually, though, the 140,000 United Nations troops were facing defeat at the hands of 98,000 North Koreans. They won the battle during their final stand.

South Korean troops in Pusan.
South Korean troops in Pusan.

During the battle, the North Koreans managed to drive back the United Nations forces to the Pusan Perimeter. The Pusan Perimeter is a 140-mile stretch of land on the Korean Peninsula that is also home to Pusan, a port.

The North Koreans attacked troops stationed there for six entire weeks, while also striking in other locations. Regardless, the United Nations troops stood firm and managed to outlast the multiple attacks. It was very helpful the United Nations had access to the port of Pusan, which enabled them to ship in extra manpower, equipment and more.

Eventually, after waiting them out, the North Koreans retreated.

The Battle of Pusan Perimeter was the furthest South the North Koreans would make it during the war.

United Nations troops arriving in South Korea.
United Nations troops arriving in South Korea.

The Beginning of the War

The Battle of Pusan Perimeter took place shortly after the start of the Korean War. The Korean War began when North Korea invaded South Korea, and the United Nations felt it would be best to send troops in to help. The United States additionally sent extra troops. The goal was to prevent the invasion by North Korea, while also helping the South Koreans to defend themselves and succeed economically and diplomatically.

The United Nations forces began to create a perimeter around Pusan through the summer of 1950. It was about 140 miles long and went from the Korean Straight to the Sea of Japan and around Pusan. It also touched on a few other cities.

The terrain around the perimeter was very rocky, mountainous and difficult to traverse. The United Nations forces were using these mountains and valleys as natural defenses. It was very hard, though, for any of the troops to cross it. The area also gave soldiers little access to clean water and was also very jungle-heavy. This was not only a bad thing for the enemy, but also for the United Nations troops. They also suffered casualties related to the vegetation, lack of pure water and the high heat.

The North Korean forces were arranged into ten divisions, most having appropriate training and with hundreds of T-34 tanks. However, when they incurred losses, the North Koreans would provide inferior replacements for their men and weaponry.

The United Nations forces were under the command of the United States military. The United Nations had superior air and sea power throughout the conflict, both being led by the United States Navy and Air Force.

North Korean T-34 tanks destroyed by U.S. bombing.
North Korean T-34 tanks destroyed by U.S. bombing.