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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

January 4th, 1951 - The Evacuation of Seoul

Conflict: Korean War

Combatants: U.N. and ROK forces vs. Chinese and NKA forces

Location: Seoul, South Korea

Outcome: Chinese, NKA victory


In January of 1951, three months after being driven from Seoul, the North Korean Army (NKA) of 100,000 men, now bolstered by Chinese forces numbering 400,000, burst across the 38th parallel. The outnumbered American Eighth Army, less than half the strength of the Communist forces, was driven back by the onslaught. Penetration of the flanks of the Eighth Army, held by Republic of Korea (ROK) divisions, caused further retreat and mayhem.


M26 Pershing in the street of Seoul with NKA prisoners in 1950 by an unknown photographer

Although the city of Seoul was not vitally important from a strategic standpoint, it held tremendous psychological value for the South Koreans. The American and South Korean commanders reluctantly agreed to withdraw with the intent of fighting the Communists on more advantageous ground. On January 4th, United Nations (UN) forces evacuated Seoul and withdrew fifty miles to the south of the 38th parallel.


Points of Interest:

Lt. Gen _Matthew B. Ridgway by a US Army Photographer
  • The commanding American general, Matthew Ridgeway, left a pair of torn pajamas in his Seoul hotel room with a note gifting them to the commander of the Communist forces.

  • Seoul changed hands between the UN and Communist forces three times in six months.

  • The Chinese Army could not keep up with the withdrawing motorized UN forces as its soldiers made use of oxen and ponies to move supplies.



Fighting in the streets of Seoul during the liberation of Seoul, September 1950 by an unknown photographer

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Sources:


Dupuy, R. Ernest & Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: HarperCollins.


Dvorchak, Robert J. (1993). Battle for Korea: A History of the Korean Conflict Fiftieth Anniversary Edition. China: The Associated Press.


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