Korea: The Unfinished War (2003): S01E08 – War of Attrition


A 2003 documentary revealing the history of the Korean War.


During the withdrawal from the North, the vastly outnumbered United Nations (UN) forces – mostly U.S. Marines and Army infantry – fought 4 Communist Chinese armies with 14 divisions and inflicted over 38,000 casualties.

In December 1950 the debate among the US government, the UN and General MacArthur was either to pursue a limited war or escalate.

With the Chinese already involved, President Truman and the UN decided not to escalate.

General Matthew Ridgeway was appointed new commandeer of the 8th Army in Korea and began to prosecute the war base on attrition: Killing Communist soldiers rather than taking ground.

The concept was to wear out the enemy forces and utilise the superior fire power available to the US and UN forces.

During the early months of 1951 the Chines mounted several offensive operations and all were countered and in fact the Chines and North Korean Army forces were again pushed back above the 38th Parallel and Seoul, for the 4th and last time, changed hands and was firmly in control by the US, UN and South Korean forces.

Korea: The Unfinished War Series

You can find a full index of Korea: The Unfinished War series here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Brian McKenna.
  • Producer(s): Anne Gelbert, Christine Le Goff, and Stephen Phizicky.
  • Narrator(s): Brian McKenna and Terence McKenna.
  • Release Date: 2003.
  • Running Time: 53 minutes.
  • Country: Canada.
  • Language: English.

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