Life in Korea was difficult for most Canadian soldiers for many different reasons. First, from a strategic or tactical standpoint, Canadian troops had been trained to fight a mobile style of war reminiscent of Second World War battles in north-western Europe. In Korea, the terrain was mountainous and generally unsuited to mobile and set-piece battles. Instead, the geography favoured the Chinese, who were lightly equipped, highly mobile, adaptable, and all battle hardened veterans of their long civil war.
Battle situations for Canadian troops varied widely. The Canadians in Korea experienced extreme and arduous combat conditions, such as those that existed at Kap'yong and Chail-li. They also suffered through long periods when the battle lines were static and little activity occurred. As one soldier claimed, life on the Jamestown line (the 38th parallel) was, "ninety per cent boredom and ten per cent pure terror." Regardless of where the soldiers were stationed, they had to contend with rugged, hilly terrain. They also endured a climate, which they had been told was "tropical," but which, in fact, went from the extremes of high heat in the summer to bitterly cold, damp, sometimes snowy, conditions in the winter. Moreover, as in the First World War, rats and other vermin infested the soldiers' trenches and encampments.
The Canadians were also ill-prepared for social aspects of service in Korea. In general, they were completely unfamiliar with Korean culture and society. Canadian army training pamphlets were woefully inadequate to prepare the soldiers. Whatever the cause, Canadians in Korea, unlike their counterparts during the Second World War in Europe, were isolated from the local social conditions.