The Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (CPV) had entered North Korea in October 1950, in response to the perceived threat to the year-old People’s Republic of China from the rapidly-advancing UN forces during the fifth month of the Korean War. The swift advances made by the (North) Korean People’s Army after they crossed the 38th Parallel on June 25 1950, had been halted by MacArthur’s stunning landing at Inchon. Subsequently, the UN forces not only recaptured all occupied South Korean territory, but had also advanced deep into North Korea, capturing Pyongyang and reaching the border with China on the Yalu River.
Rather than risk all-out war with the USA, Mao Zedong ordered the redeployment of elements of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as ‘People’s Volunteers’. In this way, China’s active military involvement would appear to be an outpouring of popular support for North Korea, and totally separate from any Government sponsored armed response to the UN forces. All evidence of any PLA connection was removed from the uniforms of the Volunteers, to maintain the deception. Initial contacts between the CPV and UN armies resulted in significant successes for the Chinese. Within 3 months, they had recaptured Pyongyang and driven the UN forces back below the 38th Parallel.