Following World War II, countries that had been occupied by the losing Axis powers were restored or occupied by the Allied powers. The Soviet Union, following the war, strategically pushed for control of much of the territory that Japan and Germany had occupied, hoping to expand communist power. One of the countries that the Allied powers divided, destined to host the first conflict of the Cold War, was Korea.
A Territory Divided
Korea was part of the Japanese Empire for most of the first half of the 20th century, until it was liberated at the end of World War II. Following the war's conclusion, the United States and the Soviet Union jointly occupied Korea, planning to temporarily divide the country along the 38th parallel before reunifying the country after elections for a new government could take place. Both of these former allies sought to create a unified Korea that would support their interests. Thus a unified Korea failed to materialize, solidifying the border between North and South Korea. The United States and the Soviet Union both exited Korea. When the North Koreans, with Soviet support, invaded South Korea in 1950, the United States and their allies, under the banner of the United Nations, launched a counterattack and sent the North Koreans back across the parallel.
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