Geography of War - The Battle of Chosin Reservoir
View south from the reservoir toward Hungnam:
The battle was fought over some of the most difficult terrain imaginable, along a road that had been cut into hillsides and between imposing peaks. Additionally, the weather was bitterly cold, as temperatures plunged more than 35 degrees below zero as a Siberian cold front swept across the Korean Peninsula. In addition to the life-threatening chill creating icy conditions, it also caused malfunctions to weapons and vehicles. Despite all of these factors working against the UN troops, it may have been more problematic for the Chinese units who had not been properly equipped with winter gear prior to entering North Korea. Estimates show that well over 25,000 of the PVA's 50,000+ casualties had non-battle causes, including many troops who were found by UN forces already frozen in their foxholes.
The Battle of Chosin Reservoir was an important engagement to both sides of the conflict. It was a geographic victory for the Chinese supporting North Korea, and it essentially ended UN hopes for a victory that would result in reunification. The successful retreat and evacuation of forces supporting South Korea, however, prevented the PVA from achieving their purpose of eliminating all enemies in North Korea. The ability of the US X Corps, including the 1st Marine Division, to remain intact as a viable fighting unit contrasts against the numerically superior PVA 9th Army which had to disband numerous divisions due to heavy losses. The Truman administration and United Nations Command abandoned their goal of victory in favor of returning to the original purpose of preserving the Republic of Korea in the south, and the comparatively successful outcome from Chosin Reservoir gave them the strength they needed to retain their foothold. The fighting continued another year and a half until an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953 and although the war technically never ended, both North and South Korea have now existed independently for nearly 70 years.