General Douglas MacArthur was directly responsible for Kim Jong Un. Wait, wait, hear me out. After World War II, Korea was divided between the Soviets and the Americans. The north was, you guessed it, Soviet. They handed power to Kim Il Sung, who promptly did everything a good little satellite did: redistributing land, starting a cult of personality, and putting intellectuals and aristocrats in camps. Then he got what he really wanted, permission from the Soviets to attack the south and reunify the peninsula. The Korean People’s Army attacked in June 1950. They quickly pushed most of the ill-prepared, under-equipped southern troops out. The only non-communist piece of Korea by September was the Pusan Perimeter, a small circle around the southernmost point.
Then the Americans, backed by the United Nations, intervened. General MacArthur led a daring amphibious landing at Incheon on September 15, 1950. Incheon was about halfway up the peninsula and over 100 miles (160 kilometers) behind KPA lines. To give credit where credit is due, it was MacArthur’s idea to land in Incheon, and he stuck with it depite initial Pentagon disapproval. The unusual tactic worked. Combined with a push from the Pusan Perimeter, American forces (excuse me, United Nations combined forces) rapidly retook the peninsula from the KPA. By the end of October the peninsula was reunited under American control.
This is where MacArthur gets his infamy. You see, American intelligence knew that the Chinese communist forces were just across the border, marked mostly by the Yalu River. So MacArthur was ordered to keep a large distance between the Yalu River and his troops. American bombers ruled the skies. With a buffer zone, bombers could easily keep back any Chinese advances without striking their own troops. But MacArthur was in contact with Chiang Kai-Shek. The exiled former leader of China promised that if MacArthur attacked from the north, Kai-Shek would land in the south and together they would end communism in China. And MacArthur wanted to be a big damn hero. So he did disobeyed orders. He marched to the edge of the Yalu in the infamous “Reconnaissance in Force,” and of course the Chinese crossed the river and fought. They pushed MacArthur’s troops back, and the bombers couldn’t do anything without hitting Americans while they tried to hit the Chinese. The communists pushed American and Korean forces to roughly where the original line had been before, and the next four years were a long, bloody war of attrition with no ground gained and many lives lost. The Korean peninsula is still divided today. Kim’s dynasty still rules their totalitarian nation to the north, playing with human rights and nuclear weapons. And we have General Douglas MacArthur to thank for it.