Enquiry 8: How did Britain respond to the Korean War?

A three-lesson enquiry for A-level students by John Marrill

An evidential and historiographical approach

The enquiry seeks to use British responses to the Korean War as a means to examine, in greater depth than might usually be the case, who ran Britain, for what purposes and by what means in the early Cold War years. The enquiry considers the responses of the Labour and Conservative governments of the period, institutions wielding power and influence, which were not subject to the electoral process, such as the Civil Service and the army, that Hennessey (2013) has dubbed the ‘permanent state’. The enquiry will use both primary sources and wide-ranging scholarship. The latter will facilitate considerations of the purpose of disparate scholars when writing history.

Key areas of focus

  • The responses of the Labour and Conservative governments of the period to the Korean War and the motives and intentions behind these responses.
  • The position and influence of the ‘permanent state’ on policy in Korea.
  • Differing scholarly responses to all of the above issues.

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