- North Korean forces crossed into South Korea on June 25, 1950, starting the Korean War.
- The first armed conflict of the Cold War ended with an armistice on July 27, 1953.
- But there has never been a peace treaty, meaning the Korean War is still technically being fought.
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June 25, 1950, saw troops from North Korea pouring across the 38th parallel into South Korea. This began a short, yet exceptionally bloody war.
There are those that refer to the Korean War as, “the forgotten war” as it did not receive the same kind of attention as did World War II or the Vietnam War. However, despite the lack of attention given to it, the Korean War was one of great loss for both sides involved – both civilian and military.
Even now, 70 years later, the Korean War is given less notice than other conflicts and wars in history. It is just as important and just as worthy of remembrance as anything else.
To honor those that fought, those that died, and those that were wounded in Korea between June 25, 1950, and July 27, 1953, here are five facts about the Korean War:
38th Parallel still divides the two countries
The 38th Parallel was the boundary which divided the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the North and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the South.
Despite the original desires of the UN and the US to completely destroy communism and stop its spread, the Korean War ended in July 1953 with both sides signing an armistice which gave South Korea 1,500 extra square miles of territory, and also created a 2-mile wide demilitarized zone which still exists today.
It was the first military action of the Cold War
After World War II ended, the world entered a time period known as the Cold War. The Cold War lasted from 1945 until 1990.
It was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and their allies. The Korean War was the first military action following the end of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War.
American leaders viewed it as more than just a war against North Korea
North Korean troops invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950. By July, US troops had joined the war on South Korea’s behalf.
This is partly due to the fact that President Harry Truman and the American military leaders believed that this was not simply a border dispute between two dictatorships, but could be the first step in a communist campaign to take over the world.
President Truman believed that, “If we let Korea down, the Soviets will keep right on going and swallow up one place after another.” They sent troops over to South Korea prepared for war against communism itself.
Gen. MacArthur was fired from his post
By the end of summer 1950, President Truman and Gen. Douglas MacArthur, commander of the Asian theater, had set a new goal for the war in Korea. They set out to liberate North Korea from the communists.
However, as China caught wind of this, they threatened full-scale war unless the United States kept its troops away from the Yalu boundary. The Yalu River was the border between North Korea and communist China.
Full-scale war with China was the last thing President Truman wanted, as he and his advisers feared it would lead to a larger scale push by the Soviets across Europe. As President Truman worked tirelessly to prevent war with China, Gen. MacArthur began to do all he could to provoke it.
In March 1951, Gen. MacArthur sent a letter to House Republican leader, Joseph Martin, stating that, “There is no substitute for victory,” against international communism.
For President Truman this was the last straw, and on April 11 he fired Gen. MacArthur from his post for insubordination.
Millions of lives were lost:
Between June 1950 and July 1953, approximately 5 million lives were lost. Somewhere around half of those were civilian casualties.
American troops saw approximately 40,000 soldiers die in action in Korea, and more than 100,000 were wounded.
These numbers made the Korean War known as an exceptionally bloody war, despite the fact that it was relatively short.
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