Korean War

1950–1953 war between North Korea and South Korea

The Korean War, also known as "The Forgotten War" took place between 1950 and 1953. Its components were the Republic of Korea (or South Korea), supported by the armed forces of several countries commanded by the United States; And the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (or North Korea), supported by the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union. The war began at 4:30 AM on June 25, 1950. Fighting stopped July 27, 1953. More than two million Koreans died, most of them in the north.

Both sides blame each other for starting the war. The north, led by communist Kim Il-Sung, was helped mostly by People's Republic of China, and the USSR. There was medical support from Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Poland. Other support came from Mongolia and India. The south, led by nationalist Syngman Rhee, was helped by many countries in the United Nations, and especially by the United States.

The war ended on April 27th. The United States still keeps troops in South Korea, in case North Korea ever invades again. North and South Korea are divided by the Korean Demilitarized Zone that crosses the 38th parallel.

Origin and causesEdit

In 1910, Japan put Korea under Japanese rule and was still ruling Korea when World War II ended. When Japan surrendered, the United States and the USSR agreed to split Korea into two temporary occupation zones with USSR occupying the North and USA occupying the South. This was, at first, only meant to be for a short time.

At the Moscow Conference of the Council of Foreign Ministers in December 1945, the United States and USSR agreed on Korea having a provisional government (a temporary government set up quickly before a real government is ready). This became difficult because of the growing Cold War.[1]

The Cold War was an important cause in the Korean War. Relations between the two occupying powers were bad and when China became Communist in October 1949, the President of the USA, Harry Truman, was very worried that other countries around China may also become Communist, such as Japan. The American Army was about one twelfth the size of five years earlier[2] and Joseph Stalin had recently lost a Cold War dispute over the Berlin Blockade and subsequent airlift. They mainly argued over fair border lines and the spread of communism therefore starting the war.


casualties near Pusan
  • 25th June 1950
  • North Korea invades South Korea across the 38th parallel and takes most of South Korea. The South Korean Army retreats to Busan.

July 1950

UN Forces landing at Inchon
  • United Nations army intervenes and lands at Incheon, a small port just about half-way down South Korea, from there on they fight the North Korean army and push them past the border separating North and South Korea and close to the Chinese border, just south of the Yalu River.
  • China starts to feel threatened with the war happening so close to them and tells the UN Army and the South Korean army to return to the border and that they have no business to fight so far into North Korea.
October 1950
  • The warning given by the Chinese is ignored by the UN (led by an American general, Douglas MacArthur) and so the Chinese army, called the People's Liberation Army, invades North Korea and helps the North Koreans fight the UN until the UN forces are pushed past the border separating North and South Korea.
December 1950
February 1951
  • Fighting continues until order is restored and neither army is in the other country. Peace talks begin.
11 April 1951
  • Douglas MacArthur relieved of his commands for making public statements that contradicted the administration's policies
March 1951 - 27th July 1953
  • Peace talks continue. On the 27th July 1953 no peace has been declared but an armistice is signed by both countries and the UN withdraws.


Country Positive Negative
USA Stopped communist expansion. Greece and Turkey joined NATO. Upheld Truman Doctrine. Far too aggressive, this made other countries nervous.
UN First major success. Could only win through violence, not peace talks.
Both Koreas North Korea got a treaty with China. South Korea stayed Capitalist. Many people died; much property was wrecked. No re-unification.
China Foreign war united the country and improved rulers' prestige. USSR relations became worse. Banned from the UN Security Council.
USSR North Korea stayed Communist. Tested their Air Force against the United States. Chinese relations became worse. Lost a large amount of money.


Total StrengthEdit

  • Approximate numbers

United NationsEdit

  • South Korea - 603,000 soldiers
  • United States of America - 327,000
  • Britain - 14,200
  • Canada - 8,100
  • Turkey - 5,500
  • Australia - 2,300
  • Philippines - 1,600
  • New Zealand - 1,400
  • The Netherlands - 3,418
  • Ethiopia - 1,300
  • Greece - 1,250
  • Colombia - 1,300
  • Thailand - 1,200
  • Belgium - 891
  • South Africa - 873
  • France - 800
  • Luxembourg - 44
    • Total - about 972,000 soldiers


  • North Korea - 260,600
  • China - 1,358,456
  • Soviet Union - 26,000
    • Total - 1,642,600 soldiers


United NationsEdit

  • South Korea - 205,000 deaths - 905,800 wounded
  • United States - 100,503 deaths - 92,073 wounded
  • United Kingdom - 1,078 deaths - 2,674 wounded
  • Turkey - 721 deaths - 2,109 wounded
  • Canada - 507 deaths - 1,001 wounded
  • Australia - 380 deaths - 1,192 wounded
  • New Zealand - 34 deaths - 80 wounded
  • The Netherlands - 150 deaths - 3 MIA
  • France - 69 deaths
  • Luxembourg - 2 deaths - 2 wounded


  • North Korea - 257,806 deaths
  • China - about 25,000 Deaths
  • Soviet Union - about 300 Deaths


The popular television show M*A*S*H was about American doctors serving in the Korean War. The show lasted longer than the fighting did.

Related pagesEdit


  1. Keely Rogers and Jo Thomas, History 20th Century World - The Cold War (2008) p.50
  2. Active Duty Military Personnel, 1941-2011 inforplease.com

Other websitesEdit