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Canada and the Cold War: Korea


The global geopolitical situation was complicated as an aftermath of the Second World War. The world has divided into two major forces that were ideologically different. On one side, the US, UK, France, Canada, Australia, and other First World countries with democratic views were trying to mitigate the increasing power of communistic ideas. On the other side, China, the Soviet Union, and the newly established North Korea were actively supporting their own ideology for the sake of installing it in other nations1.

Canada was involved in the conflict, supporting and fighting against North Korea. The country was divided into two separate territories contrasting in terms of ideologies. North Korea had an expansionist plan on South Korea, which led to active military efforts to invade it. The Canadian military forces, alongside their allies, put efforts towards combating North Korea’s actions. Due to the Communistic character of North Korean violent policy, democratic Canada was interested in the conflict for ideological reasons.

The Korean War

The Korean war occurred when Japan surrendered during the Second World War, and the previously occupied Korea has divided into two separate territories. Hence, North Korea was willing to unite the territories and form a single state. However, the resistance caused the expansion to turn to military actions, which ultimately allowed North Koreans to fulfill the objective of invading the territory2. Baum mentions that the United Nations was not ready for the conflict to escalate so fast.

The US, Canada, and other democratic nations were not ready to surrender the south part of the country to an entity that was being supported by the Communistic regime. Due to the fact that the Soviets were equipping the invaders with tanks and ammunition, it was certain that the ideological idea did not align with the Canadian one, a Grand strategy was implied to protect democratic interests3. This is why Canada was actively trying to mitigate the conflict and fight against the cold war enemy.

Canadian Military Force

Canadian forces had a unique strategy during the Korean war. Resources mention that the aim was to recruit a separate division with lower recruitment standards4. The authors mention that multiple battalions consisting of more than 8000 troops were involved in operations in Seoul. It is crucial that Canada was not a separate force but rather implied a strategy of actively operating alongside the allies.

A specific example is Operation Killer, the operation implied by the United Nations to recover some of the territories where the Chinese and North Korean armies were settled. Due to the strategic location of the Chinese troops, the almost 1000 Canadians were under fire yet managed to successfully take a part of the occupied territory 5. The strategy consisted of a methodic and planned occupation of territories previously held by the other side. By slowly moving towards the ultimate victory, the Canadian military force could ensure a lower number of casualties and more substantial positions. The alliance between Canada and the United Nations (democratic block) proves the ideological orientation of the war.

Canada and the Allies

There was a strategic problem when it came to the air force. Researchers mention that Canada was not ready for the type of air combat required for the Korean conflict6. Instead, the major efforts were focused on the transportation of people and provisions, which was the aerial support that helped the allies. Still, most of the efforts were focused on infantry. It is essential to mention that while most of the involvement consisted of troops, tanks and artillery units were also employed during several battles. There is a pattern when it comes to the Canadian involvement in the Korean conflict during the cold war.

While there were multiple instances when Canadian forces were actively taking part in military operations, many actions were aimed to support the forces of the United Nations. It is fair to say that the military strategy was to use the existing resources and combine them with the resources of the allies. Thus, Canada has done a lot of damage to the enemy’s armies by solely supporting armies of other nations. An example is aerial and naval support in terms of transportation of resources and troops7.

By doing this, Canada has ensured their strong position among the United Nations even under the conditions that it was not involved in similar military operations prior to this one. There is evidence that the Canadian’s relatively significant presence on the battlefield was a strategy that the government used to show the world that Canadian forces have solid allies and have the potential to become strong opponents (Russell, 2020)8. However, the overall UN involvement in the Korean world can be described as a Grand strategy, as mentioned prior. By entering the conflict, the nations were willing to defend their objectives and ensure a long-term democratic regime that would be maintained on their own territories.

Ideological Strategy

Mixed strategies were implied by the Canadian troops that were not ready for fighting in such conditions. It is essential to highlight the policy of Containment which Canada was involved in alongside the US and other participants. However, while the aim to combat the spread of communistic ideas was one of the primary objectives of Canada, in contrast with the relatively unfavorable position on the battles, Canadians employed over 20 000 troupes9. While this was a significant number and the overall power of the alliance was strong, Canadians were outnumbered, which did not allow them to operate under specific military strategies.


After the conflict was mitigated, Canadians applied the extension of the Containment strategy. This was done by sending peacekeepers to maintain the victory, which resulted in the Canadian military personnel spending two more years in South Korea after the war ended in 195310. This also highlights the Grand strategy aimed to maintain the world order that would allow the United Nations to preserve their countries’ and ideologies’ high position globally.

Such a decision was implied due to the continuous risk of the then vulnerable South Korea being at risk for repeated occupancy. Moreover, as mentioned prior, South Korea was potentially an essential ally for United Nations and Canada in particular due to the geopolitical position and the close proximity with the dangerous enemies. Since both China and North Korean political agenda was expansionist and aimed towards the increase of communistic influence, it was important for Canada to protect the victory.


Macdonald, Julia M. “1. South Korea, 1950–53.” Proxy Wars (2019): 28–52. Web.

Baum, Kim Chull. “US Policy on the Eve of the Korean War: Abandonment or Safeguard?” Security in Korea (2019): 13–38. Web.

Blair, Clay. “The Korean War: Background and Overview.” Security in Korea (2019): 39–52. Web.

Marcuse, Gary, and Reginald Whitaker. “Cold War Canada.” University of Toronto Press (2019). Web.

Russell, Glenn W. “Combat Ready?: The Eighth US Army on the Eve of the Korean War.” Parameters 50 no. 2 (2020): 120–122. Web.

Whitaker, Reg. “1: ‘We Know They’re There’: Canada and Its Others, with or without the Cold War.” Love, Hate, and Fear in Canada’s Cold War (2018): 35–56. Web.


  1. Julia M. Macdonald, “1. South Korea, 1950–53,” Proxy Wars (2019): 28–52. Web.
  2. Kim Chull Baum, “US Policy on the Eve of the Korean War: Abandonment or Safeguard?” Security in Korea (2019): 13–38. Web.
  3. Clay Blair, 2019. “The Korean War: Background and Overview,” Security in Korea (2019): 39–52. Web.
  4. Gary Marcuse and Reginald Whitaker, “Cold War Canada,” University of Toronto Press (2019). Web.
  5. Marcuse and Whitaker, “Cold War Canada.”
  6. Glenn W. Russell, “Combat Ready?: The Eighth US Army on the Eve of the Korean War,” Parameters 50 no. 2 (2020): 120–122. Web.
  7. Reg Whitaker, “1: ‘We Know They’re There’: Canada and Its Others, with or without the Cold War,” Love, Hate, and Fear in Canada’s Cold War (2018): 35. Web.
  8. Russell, “Combat Ready”, 121.
  9. Russell, “Combat Ready”, 123.
  10. Russell, “Combat Ready”, 123.
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1. StudyKraken. "Canada and the Cold War: Korea." December 18, 2022.


StudyKraken. "Canada and the Cold War: Korea." December 18, 2022.


StudyKraken. 2022. "Canada and the Cold War: Korea." December 18, 2022.


StudyKraken. (2022) 'Canada and the Cold War: Korea'. 18 December.

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