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In South Korea: (한국전쟁)
In North Korea: (조국해방전쟁)
Part of the Cold War and the Korean conflict
Clockwise from top: A column of the U.S. 1st Marine Division's infantry and armor moves through Chinese lines during their breakout from the Chosin Reservoir; UN landing at Incheon harbor, starting point of the Battle of Incheon; Korean refugees in front of an American M26 Pershing tank; U.S. Marines, led by First Lieutenant Baldomero Lopez, landing at Incheon; F-86 Sabre fighter aircraft
Date 25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953
(3 years, 1 month and 2 days)
Location Korean Peninsula, Yellow Sea, Sea of Japan, Korea Strait, China–North Korea border Status Military stalemate
- North Korean invasion of South Korea repelled
- Subsequent United Nations invasion of North Korea repelled
- Subsequent Chinese–North Korean invasion of South Korea repelled
- Korean Armistice Agreement
Belligerents Commanders and leaders Strength
Note: The figures vary by source; peak unit strength varied during war.
Casualties and losses Total: 178,405 dead and 32,925 missing
Total wounded: 566,434
Total dead: 367,283–750,282
Total wounded: 686,500–789,000
Korea was ruled by Japan from 1910 until the closing days of World War II. In August 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, as a result of an agreement with the United States, and liberated Korea north of the 38th parallel. U.S. forces subsequently moved into the south. By 1948, as a product of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, Korea was split into two regions, with separate governments. Both governments claimed to be the legitimate government of all of Korea, and neither side accepted the border as permanent. The conflict escalated into open warfare when North Korean forces—supported by the Soviet Union and China—moved into the south on 25 June 1950. On that day, the United Nations Security Council recognized this North Korean act as invasion and called for an immediate ceasefire. On 27 June, the Security Council adopted S/RES/83: Complaint of aggression upon the Republic of Korea and decided the formation and dispatch of the UN Forces in Korea. Twenty-one countries of the United Nations eventually contributed to the UN force, with the United States providing 88% of the UN's military personnel.
After the first two months of war, South Korean forces were on the point of defeat, forced back to the Pusan Perimeter. In September 1950, an amphibious UN counter-offensive was launched at Inchon, and cut off many North Korean troops. Those who escaped envelopment and capture were rapidly forced back north all the way to the border with China at the Yalu River, or into the mountainous interior. At this point, in October 1950, Chinese forces crossed the Yalu and entered the war. Chinese intervention triggered a retreat of UN forces which continued until mid-1951.
After these reversals of fortune, which saw Seoul change hands four times, the last two years of fighting became a war of attrition, with the front line close to the 38th parallel. The war in the air, however, was never a stalemate. North Korea was subject to a massive bombing campaign. Jet fighters confronted each other in air-to-air combat for the first time in history, and Soviet pilots covertly flew in defense of their communist allies.
The fighting ended on 27 July 1953, when an armistice was signed. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone to separate North and South Korea, and allowed the return of prisoners. However, no peace treaty has been signed, and the two Koreas are technically still at war. Periodic clashes, many of which are deadly, continue to the present.
- 1 Names
- 2 Background
- 3 Course of the war
- 3.1 Outbreak of war (1950)
- 3.2 United Nations response (July – August 1950)
- 3.3 Escalation (August – September 1950)
- 3.4 Battle of Inchon (September 1950)
- 3.5 UN forces cross partition line (September – October 1950)
- 3.6 China intervenes (October – December 1950)
- 3.7 Fighting around the 38th parallel (January – June 1951)
- 3.8 Stalemate (July 1951 – July 1953)
- 3.9 Armistice (July 1953 – November 1954)
- 3.10 Division of Korea (1954–present)
- 4 Characteristics
- 5 Aftermath
- 6 See also
- 7 Footnotes
- 8 Citations
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Korean War South Korean name Hangul 한국전쟁 [show]Transcriptions North Korean name Chosŏn'gŭl 조선전쟁 [show]Transcriptions
In South Korea, the war is usually referred to as "625" or the "6–2–5 Upheaval" (6.25 동란 (動亂), yook-i-o dongnan), reflecting the date of its commencement on 25 June.
In North Korea, the war is officially referred to as the "Fatherland Liberation War" (Choguk haebang chǒnjaeng) or alternatively the "Chosǒn [Korean] War" (조선전쟁, Chosǒn chǒnjaeng).
In China, the war is officially called the "War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea" (simplified Chinese: 抗美援朝战争; traditional Chinese: 抗美援朝戰爭; pinyin: Kàngměiyuáncháo zhànzhēng), although the term "Chaoxian (Korean) War" (simplified Chinese: 朝鲜战争; traditional Chinese: 朝鮮戰爭; pinyin: Cháoxiǎn zhànzhēng) is also used in unofficial contexts, along with the term "Korean Conflict" (simplified Chinese: 韩战; traditional Chinese: 韓戰; pinyin: Hán Zhàn) more commonly used in regions such as Hong Kong and Macau.
Imperial Japanese rule (1910–1945)Main article: Korea under Japanese ruleJapan destroyed the influence of China over Korea in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95), ushering in the short-lived Korean Empire. A decade later, after defeating Imperial Russia in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05), Japan made Korea its protectorate with the Eulsa Treaty in 1905, then annexed it with the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty in 1910.
Many Korean nationalists fled the country. A Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea was founded in 1919 in Nationalist China. It failed to achieve international recognition, failed to unite nationalist groups, and had a fractious relationship with its American-based founding President, Syngman Rhee. From 1919 to 1925 and beyond, Korean communists led internal and external warfare against the Japanese.
Korea was considered to be part of the Empire of Japan as an industrialized colony along with Taiwan, and both were part of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. In 1937, the colonial Governor-General, General Jirō Minami, commanded the attempted cultural assimilation of Korea's 23.5 million people by banning the use and study of Korean language, literature, and culture, to be replaced with that of mandatory use and study of their Japanese counterparts. Starting in 1939, the populace was required to use Japanese names under the Sōshi-kaimei policy. Conscription of Koreans for labor in war industries began in 1939, with as many as 2 million Koreans conscripted into either the Japanese Army or into the Japanese labor force.
In China, the Nationalist National Revolutionary Army and the communist People's Liberation Army helped organize Korean refugees against the Japanese military, which had also occupied parts of China. The Nationalist-backed Koreans, led by Yi Pom-Sok, fought in the Burma Campaign (December 1941 – August 1945). The communists, led by Kim Il-sung among others, fought the Japanese in Korea and Manchuria.
At the Cairo Conference in November 1943, China, the United Kingdom, and United States all decided "in due course Korea shall become free and independent".
Soviet-Japanese War (1945)Main article: Soviet-Japanese War (1945)At the Tehran Conference in November 1943 and the Yalta Conference in February 1945, the Soviet Union promised to join its allies in the Pacific War within three months of the victory in Europe. Accordingly, it declared war on Japan on 9 August 1945. By 10 August, the Red Army had begun to occupy the northern part of the Korean peninsula.
On the night of 10 August in Washington, American Colonels Dean Rusk and Charles H. Bonesteel III were tasked with dividing the Korean Peninsula into Soviet and U.S. occupation zones and proposed the 38th parallel. This was incorporated into America's General Order No. 1 which responded to the Japanese surrender on 15 August. Explaining the choice of the 38th parallel, Rusk observed, "even though it was further north than could be realistically reached by U.S. forces, in the event of Soviet disagreement...we felt it important to include the capital of Korea in the area of responsibility of American troops". He noted that he was "faced with the scarcity of US forces immediately available, and time and space factors, which would make it difficult to reach very far north, before Soviet troops could enter the area". As Rusk's comments indicate, the Americans doubted whether the Soviet government would agree to this. Stalin, however, maintained his wartime policy of co-operation, and on 16 August the Red Army halted at the 38th parallel for three weeks to await the arrival of U.S. forces in the south.
Korea divided (1945–1949)See also: Division of Korea
In December 1945, Korea was administered by a U.S.-Soviet Union Joint Commission, as agreed at the Moscow Conference, with the aim of granting independence after a five-year trusteeship. The idea was not popular among Koreans and riots broke out. To contain them, the USAMGIK banned strikes on 8 December 1945 and outlawed the PRK Revolutionary Government and the PRK People's Committees on 12 December 1945.
On 23 September 1946, an 8,000-strong railroad worker strike began in Pusan. Civil disorder spread throughout the country in what became known as the Autumn uprising. On 1 October 1946, Korean police killed three students in the Daegu Uprising; protesters counter-attacked, killing 38 policemen. On 3 October, some 10,000 people attacked the Yeongcheon police station, killing three policemen and injuring some 40 more; elsewhere, some 20 landlords and pro-Japanese South Korean officials were killed. The USAMGIK declared martial law.
Citing the inability of the Joint Commission to make progress, the U.S. government decided to hold an election under United Nations auspices with the aim of creating an independent Korea. The Soviet authorities and the Korean Communists refused to co-operate on the grounds it would not be fair, and many South Korean politicians boycotted it. A general election was held in the South on 10 May 1948. It was marred by political violence and sabotage resulting in 600 deaths. North Korea held parliamentary elections three months later on 25 August.
Meanwhile, on 3 April 1948, what began as a demonstration commemorating Korean resistance to Japanese rule ended with the Jeju uprising where between 14,000 and 60,000 people died. South Korean Army soldiers carried out large-scale atrocities during its suppression of the uprising. In October 1948, some South Korean soldiers mutinied against the clampdown in the Yeosu-Suncheon Rebellion.
The Soviet Union withdrew as agreed from Korea in 1948, and U.S. troops withdrew in 1949. On 24 December 1949, South Korean forces killed 86 to 88 people in the Mungyeong massacre and blamed the crime on marauding communist bands. By early 1950, Syngman Rhee had about 30,000 alleged communists in jails and about 300,000 suspected sympathizers enrolled in the Bodo League re-education movement.
Chinese Civil War (1945–1949)Main article: Chinese Civil WarWith the end of the war with Japan, the Chinese Civil War resumed between the Chinese Communists and the Chinese Nationalists. While the Communists were struggling for supremacy in Manchuria, they were supported by the North Korean government with matériel and manpower. According to Chinese sources, the North Koreans donated 2,000 railway cars worth of matériel while thousands of Koreans served in the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) during the war. North Korea also provided the Chinese Communists in Manchuria with a safe refuge for non-combatants and communications with the rest of China.
The North Korean contributions to the Chinese Communist victory were not forgotten after the creation of the People's Republic of China in 1949. As a token of gratitude, between 50,000 and 70,000 Korean veterans that served in the PLA were sent back along with their weapons, and they later played a significant role in the initial invasion of South Korea. China promised to support the North Koreans in the event of a war against South Korea. The Chinese support created a deep division between the Korean Communists, and Kim Il-sung's authority within the Communist party was challenged by the Chinese faction led by Pak Il-yu, who was later purged by Kim.
After the formation of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese government named the Western nations, led by the United States, as the biggest threat to its national security. Basing this judgment on China's century of humiliation beginning in the early 19th century, American support for the Nationalists during the Chinese Civil War, and the ideological struggles between revolutionaries and reactionaries, the Chinese leadership believed that China would become a critical battleground in the United States' crusade against Communism. As a countermeasure and to elevate China's standing among the worldwide Communist movements, the Chinese leadership adopted a foreign policy that actively promoted Communist revolutions throughout territories on China's periphery.
Course of the war
Outbreak of war (1950)
Initially, Stalin did not think the time was right for a war in Korea. Chinese Communist forces were still fighting in China. American forces were still stationed in South Korea (they would complete their withdrawal in June 1949) and Stalin did not want the Soviet Union to become embroiled in a war with the United States.
By spring 1950, Stalin believed the strategic situation changed. The Soviets detonated their first nuclear bomb in September 1949; American soldiers fully withdrew from Korea; the Americans did not intervene to stop the communist victory in China, and Stalin calculated that the Americans would be even less willing to fight in Korea—which had seemingly much less strategic significance. The Soviets had also cracked the codes used by the US to communicate with the US embassy in Moscow, and reading these dispatches convinced Stalin that Korea did not have the importance to the US that would warrant a nuclear confrontation. Stalin began a more aggressive strategy in Asia based on these developments, including promising economic and military aid to China through the Sino–Soviet Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance Treaty.
Throughout 1949 and 1950 the Soviets continued arming North Korea. After the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War, ethnic Korean units in the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) were released to North Korea. The combat veterans from China, the tanks, artillery and aircraft supplied by the Soviets, and rigorous training increased North Korea's military superiority over the South, armed by the American military with mostly small arms and given no heavy weaponry such as tanks.
In April 1950, Stalin gave Kim permission to invade the South under the condition that Mao would agree to send reinforcements if needed. Stalin made it clear that Soviet forces would not openly engage in combat, to avoid a direct war with the Americans. Kim met with Mao in May 1950. Mao was concerned the Americans would intervene but agreed to support the North Korean invasion. China desperately needed the economic and military aid promised by the Soviets. At that time, the Chinese were in the process of demobilizing half of the PLA's 5.6 million soldiers. However, Mao sent more ethnic Korean PLA veterans to Korea and promised to move an army closer to the Korean border. Once Mao's commitment was secured, preparations for war accelerated.
Soviet generals with extensive combat experience from the Second World War were sent to North Korea as the Soviet Advisory Group. These generals completed the plans for the attack by May. The original plans called for a skirmish to be initiated in the Ongjin Peninsula on the west coast of Korea. The North Koreans would then launch a "counterattack" that would capture Seoul and encircle and destroy the South Korean army. The final stage would involve destroying South Korean government remnants, capturing the rest of South Korea, including the ports.
On 7 June 1950, Kim Il-sung called for a Korea-wide election on 5–8 August 1950 and a consultative conference in Haeju on 15–17 June 1950. On 11 June, the North sent three diplomats to the South as a peace overture that Rhee rejected outright. On 21 June, Kim Il-Sung revised his war plan to involve general attack across the 38th parallel, rather than a limited operation in the Ongjin peninsula. Kim was concerned that South Korean agents learned about the plans and South Korean forces were strengthening their defenses. Stalin agreed to this change of plan.
While these preparations were underway in the North, there were frequent clashes along the 38th parallel, especially at Kaesong and Ongjin, many initiated by the South. The Republic of Korea Army (ROK Army) was being trained by the U.S. Korean Military Advisory Group (KMAG). On the eve of war, KMAG's commander General William Lynn Roberts voiced utmost confidence in the ROK Army and boasted that any North Korean invasion would merely provide "target practice". For his part, Syngman Rhee repeatedly expressed his desire to conquer the North, including when American diplomat John Foster Dulles visited Korea on 18 June.
Although some South Korean and American intelligence officers predicted an attack from the North, similar predictions were made before and nothing happened. The Central Intelligence Agency noted the southward movement by the Korean People's Army (KPA), but assessed this as a "defensive measure" and concluded an invasion was "unlikely". On 23 June, UN observers inspected the border and did not detect that war was imminent.
Whoever fired the first shots in Ongjin, within an hour, North Korean forces attacked all along the 38th parallel. The North Koreans had a combined arms force including tanks supported by heavy artillery. The South Koreans had no tanks, anti-tank weapons or heavy artillery, to stop such an attack. In addition, South Koreans committed their forces in a piecemeal fashion and these were routed in a few days.
On 27 June, Rhee evacuated from Seoul with some of the government. On 28 June, at 2 am, the South Korean Army blew up the highway Hangang Bridge across the Han River in an attempt to stop the North Korean army. The bridge was detonated while 4,000 refugees were crossing it and hundreds were killed. Destroying the bridge also trapped many South Korean military units north of the Han River. In spite of such desperate measures, Seoul fell that same day. A number of South Korean National Assemblymen remained in Seoul when it fell, and forty-eight subsequently pledged allegiance to the North.
On 28 June, Rhee ordered the massacre of suspected political opponents in his own country.
In five days, the South Korean forces, which had 95,000 men on 25 June, was down to less than 22,000 men. In early July, when U.S. forces arrived, what was left of the South Korean forces were placed under U.S. operational command of the United Nations Command.
Factors in US interventionThe Truman administration was unprepared for the invasion. Korea was not included in the strategic Asian Defense Perimeter outlined by Secretary of State Dean Acheson. Military strategists were more concerned with the security of Europe against the Soviet Union than East Asia. At the same time, the Administration was worried that a war in Korea could quickly widen into another world war should the Chinese or Soviets decide to get involved.
One facet of the changing attitude toward Korea and whether to get involved was Japan. Especially after the fall of China to the Communists, U.S. East Asian experts saw Japan as the critical counterweight to the Soviet Union and China in the region. While there was no United States policy dealing with South Korea directly as a national interest, its proximity to Japan increased the importance of South Korea. Said Kim: "The recognition that the security of Japan required a non-hostile Korea led directly to President Truman's decision to intervene... The essential point... is that the American response to the North Korean attack stemmed from considerations of US policy toward Japan." A major consideration was the possible Soviet reaction in the event that the US intervened. The Truman administration was fretful that a war in Korea was a diversionary assault that would escalate to a general war in Europe once the United States committed in Korea. At the same time, "[t]here was no suggestion from anyone that the United Nations or the United States could back away from [the conflict]". Yugoslavia–a possible Soviet target because of the Tito-Stalin Split—was vital to the defense of Italy and Greece, and the country was first on the list of the National Security Council's post-North Korea invasion list of "chief danger spots". Truman believed if aggression went unchecked a chain reaction would be initiated that would marginalize the United Nations and encourage Communist aggression elsewhere. The UN Security Council approved the use of force to help the South Koreans and the US immediately began using what air and naval forces that were in the area to that end. The Administration still refrained from committing on the ground because some advisers believed the North Koreans could be stopped by air and naval power alone.
The Truman administration was still uncertain if the attack was a ploy by the Soviet Union or just a test of U.S. resolve. The decision to commit ground troops became viable when a communiqué was received on 27 June indicating the Soviet Union would not move against U.S. forces in Korea. The Truman administration now believed it could intervene in Korea without undermining its commitments elsewhere.
United Nations Security Council ResolutionsFurther information: List of United Nations Security Council resolutions concerning North KoreaOn 25 June 1950, the United Nations Security Council unanimously condemned the North Korean invasion of the Republic of Korea, with UN Security Council Resolution 82. The Soviet Union, a veto-wielding power, had boycotted the Council meetings since January 1950, protesting that the Republic of China (Taiwan), not the People's Republic of China, held a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. After debating the matter, the Security Council, on 27 June 1950, published Resolution 83 recommending member states provide military assistance to the Republic of Korea. On 27 June President Truman ordered U.S. air and sea forces to help the South Korean regime. On 4 July the Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister accused the United States of starting armed intervention on behalf of South Korea.
The Soviet Union challenged the legitimacy of the war for several reasons. The ROK Army intelligence upon which Resolution 83 was based came from U.S. Intelligence; North Korea was not invited as a sitting temporary member of the UN, which violated UN Charter Article 32; and the fighting was beyond the UN Charter's scope, because the initial north–south border fighting was classed as a civil war. Because the Soviet Union was boycotting the Security Council at the time, legal scholars posited that deciding upon an action of this type required the unanimous vote of the five permanent members.
Comparison of military forces
In contrast, the ROK Army defenders were unprepared and ill-equipped. In South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu (1961), R.E. Appleman reports the ROK forces' low combat readiness as of 25 June 1950. The ROK Army had 98,000 soldiers (65,000 combat, 33,000 support), no tanks (they had been requested from the U.S. military, but requests were denied), and a 22-piece air force comprising 12 liaison-type and 10 AT6 advanced-trainer airplanes. There were no large foreign military garrisons in Korea at the time of the invasion, but there were large U.S. garrisons and air forces in Japan.
Within days of the invasion, masses of ROK Army soldiers—of dubious loyalty to the Syngman Rhee regime—were retreating southwards or defecting en masse to the northern side, the KPA.
United Nations response (July – August 1950)
Communism was acting in Korea, just as Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese had ten, fifteen, and twenty years earlier. I felt certain that if South Korea was allowed to fall, Communist leaders would be emboldened to override nations closer to our own shores. If the Communists were permitted to force their way into the Republic of Korea without opposition from the free world, no small nation would have the courage to resist threat and aggression by stronger Communist neighbors.
As an initial response, Truman called for a naval blockade of North Korea, and was shocked to learn that such a blockade could be imposed only 'on paper', since the U.S. Navy no longer had the warships with which to carry out his request. In fact, because of the extensive defense cuts and the emphasis placed on building a nuclear bomber force, none of the services were in a position to make a robust response with conventional military strength. General Omar Bradley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was faced with re-organizing and deploying an American military force that was a shadow of its World War II counterpart. The impact of the Truman administration's defense budget cutbacks were now keenly felt, as American troops fought a series of costly rearguard actions. Lacking sufficient anti-tank weapons, artillery or armor, they were driven back down the Korean peninsula to Pusan. In a postwar analysis of the unpreparedness of U.S. Army forces deployed to Korea during the summer and fall of 1950, Army Major General Floyd L. Parks stated that "Many who never lived to tell the tale had to fight the full range of ground warfare from offensive to delaying action, unit by unit, man by man ... [T]hat we were able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat ... does not relieve us from the blame of having placed our own flesh and blood in such a predicament."
Acting on State Secretary Acheson's recommendation, President Truman ordered General MacArthur to transfer matériel to the Army of the Republic of Korea while giving air cover to the evacuation of U.S. nationals. The President disagreed with advisers who recommended unilateral U.S. bombing of the North Korean forces, and ordered the US Seventh Fleet to protect the Republic of China (Taiwan), whose government asked to fight in Korea. The United States denied ROC's request for combat, lest it provoke a communist Chinese retaliation. Because the United States had sent the Seventh Fleet to "neutralize" the Taiwan Strait, Chinese premier Zhou Enlai criticized both the UN and U.S. initiatives as "armed aggression on Chinese territory."
By August, the KPA pushed back the ROK Army and the Eighth United States Army to the vicinity of Pusan in southeast Korea. In their southward advance, the KPA purged the Republic of Korea's intelligentsia by killing civil servants and intellectuals. On 20 August, General MacArthur warned North Korean leader Kim Il-sung he was responsible for the KPA's atrocities. By September, the UN Command controlled the Pusan perimeter, enclosing about 10% of Korea, in a line partially defined by the Nakdong River.
Although Kim's early successes led him to predict he would end the war by the end of August, Chinese leaders were more pessimistic. To counter a possible U.S. deployment, Zhou Enlai secured a Soviet commitment to have the Soviet Union support Chinese forces with air cover, and deployed 260,000 soldiers along the Korean border, under the command of Gao Gang. Zhou commanded Chai Chengwen to conduct a topographical survey of Korea, and directed Lei Yingfu, Zhou's military advisor in Korea, to analyze the military situation in Korea. Lei concluded that MacArthur would most likely attempt a landing at Incheon. After conferring with Mao that this would be MacArthur's most likely strategy, Zhou briefed Soviet and North Korean advisers of Lei's findings, and issued orders to Chinese army commanders deployed on the Korean border to prepare for American naval activity in the Korea Strait.
Escalation (August – September 1950)
Meanwhile, U.S. garrisons in Japan continually dispatched soldiers and matériel to reinforce defenders in the Pusan Perimeter. Tank battalions deployed to Korea directly from the U.S. mainland from the port of San Francisco to the port of Pusan, the largest Korean port. By late August, the Pusan Perimeter had some 500 medium tanks battle-ready. In early September 1950, ROK Army and UN Command forces outnumbered the KPA 180,000 to 100,000 soldiers. The UN forces, once prepared, counterattacked and broke out of the Pusan Perimeter.
Battle of Inchon (September 1950)Main article: Battle of InchonAgainst the rested and re-armed Pusan Perimeter defenders and their reinforcements, the KPA were undermanned and poorly supplied; unlike the UN Command, they lacked naval and air support. To relieve the Pusan Perimeter, General MacArthur recommended an amphibious landing at Inchon (now known as Incheon), near Seoul and well over 100 miles (160 km) behind the KPA lines. On 6 July, he ordered Major General Hobart R. Gay, Commander, 1st Cavalry Division, to plan the division's amphibious landing at Incheon; on 12–14 July, the 1st Cavalry Division embarked from Yokohama, Japan to reinforce the 24th Infantry Division inside the Pusan Perimeter.
After the Incheon landing, the 1st Cavalry Division began its northward advance from the Pusan Perimeter. "Task Force Lynch" (after Lieutenant Colonel James H. Lynch), 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, and two 70th Tank Battalion units (Charlie Company and the Intelligence–Reconnaissance Platoon) effected the "Pusan Perimeter Breakout" through 106.4 miles (171.2 km) of enemy territory to join the 7th Infantry Division at Osan. The X Corps rapidly defeated the KPA defenders around Seoul, thus threatening to trap the main KPA force in Southern Korea.
On 18 September, Stalin dispatched General H. M. Zakharov to Korea to advise Kim Il-sung to halt his offensive around the Pusan perimeter and to redeploy his forces to defend Seoul. Chinese commanders were not briefed on North Korean troop numbers or operational plans. As the overall commander of Chinese forces, Zhou Enlai suggested that the North Koreans should attempt to eliminate the enemy forces at Inchon only if they had reserves of at least 100,000 men; otherwise, he advised the North Koreans to withdraw their forces north.
On 25 September, Seoul was recaptured by South Korean forces. American air raids caused heavy damage to the KPA, destroying most of its tanks and much of its artillery. North Korean troops in the south, instead of effectively withdrawing north, rapidly disintegrated, leaving Pyongyang vulnerable. During the general retreat only 25,000 to 30,000 soldiers managed to rejoin the Northern KPA lines. On 27 September, Stalin convened an emergency session of the Politburo, in which he condemned the incompetence of the KPA command and held Soviet military advisers responsible for the defeat.
UN forces cross partition line (September – October 1950)Main article: UN Offensive, 1950
On 30 September, Zhou Enlai warned the United States that China was prepared to intervene in Korea if the United States crossed the 38th parallel. Zhou attempted to advise North Korean commanders on how to conduct a general withdrawal by using the same tactics which allowed Chinese communist forces to successfully escape Chiang Kai-shek's Encirclement Campaigns in the 1930s, but by some accounts North Korean commanders did not utilize these tactics effectively. Historian Bruce Cumings argues, however, the KPA's rapid withdrawal was strategic, with troops melting into the mountains from where they could launch guerrilla raids on the UN forces spread out on the coasts.
By 1 October 1950, the UN Command repelled the KPA northwards past the 38th parallel; the ROK Army crossed after them, into North Korea. MacArthur made a statement demanding the KPA's unconditional surrender. Six days later, on 7 October, with UN authorization, the UN Command forces followed the ROK forces northwards. The X Corps landed at Wonsan (in southeastern North Korea) and Riwon (in northeastern North Korea), already captured by ROK forces. The Eighth U.S. Army and the ROK Army drove up western Korea and captured Pyongyang city, the North Korean capital, on 19 October 1950. The 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team ("Rakkasans") made their first of two combat jumps during the Korean War on 20 October 1950 at Sunchon and Sukchon. The missions of the 187th were to cut the road north going to China, preventing North Korean leaders from escaping from Pyongyang; and to rescue American prisoners of war. At month's end, UN forces held 135,000 KPA prisoners of war. As they neared the Sino-Korean border, the UN forces in the west were divided from those in the east by 50–100 miles of mountainous terrain.
Taking advantage of the UN Command's strategic momentum against the communists, General MacArthur believed it necessary to extend the Korean War into China to destroy depots supplying the North Korean war effort. President Truman disagreed, and ordered caution at the Sino-Korean border.
China intervenes (October – December 1950)
On 20 August 1950, Premier Zhou Enlai informed the UN that "Korea is China's neighbor... The Chinese people cannot but be concerned about a solution of the Korean question". Thus, through neutral-country diplomats, China warned that in safeguarding Chinese national security, they would intervene against the UN Command in Korea. President Truman interpreted the communication as "a bald attempt to blackmail the UN", and dismissed it.
In a series of emergency meetings that lasted from 2–5 October, Chinese leaders debated whether to send Chinese troops into Korea. There was considerable resistance among many leaders, including senior military leaders, to confronting the U.S. in Korea. Mao strongly supported intervention, and Zhou was one of the few Chinese leaders who firmly supported him. After Lin Biao politely refused Mao's offer to command Chinese forces in Korea (citing his upcoming medical treatment), Mao decided that Peng Dehuai would be the commander of the Chinese forces in Korea after Peng agreed to support Mao's position. Mao then asked Peng to speak in favor of intervention to the rest of the Chinese leaders. After Peng made the case that if U.S. troops conquered Korea and reached the Yalu they might cross it and invade China the Politburo agreed to intervene in Korea. Later, the Chinese claimed that US bombers had violated PRC national airspace on three separate occasions and attacked Chinese targets before China intervened. On 8 October 1950, Mao Zedong redesignated the PLA North East Frontier Force as the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA).
In order to enlist Stalin's support, Zhou and a Chinese delegation left for Moscow on 8 October, arriving there on 10 October at which point they flew to Stalin's home at the Black Sea. There they conferred with the top Soviet leadership which included Joseph Stalin as well as Vyacheslav Molotov, Lavrentiy Beria and Georgi Malenkov. Stalin initially agreed to send military equipment and ammunition, but warned Zhou that the Soviet Union's air force would need two or three months to prepare any operations. In a subsequent meeting, Stalin told Zhou that he would only provide China with equipment on a credit basis, and that the Soviet air force would only operate over Chinese airspace, and only after an undisclosed period of time. Stalin did not agree to send either military equipment or air support until March 1951. Mao did not find Soviet air support especially useful, as the fighting was going to take place on the south side of the Yalu. Soviet shipments of matériel, when they did arrive, were limited to small quantities of trucks, grenades, machine guns, and the like.
Immediately on his return to Beijing on 18 October 1950, Zhou met with Mao Zedong, Peng Dehuai, and Gao Gang, and the group ordered two hundred thousand Chinese troops to enter North Korea, which they did on 25 October. After consulting with Stalin, on 13 November, Mao appointed Zhou the overall commander and coordinator of the war effort, with Peng as field commander. Orders given by Zhou were delivered in the name of the Central Military Commission.
Meanwhile, on 10 October 1950, the 89th Tank Battalion was attached to the 1st Cavalry Division, increasing the armor available for the Northern Offensive. On 15 October, after moderate KPA resistance, the 7th Cavalry Regiment and Charlie Company, 70th Tank Battalion captured Namchonjam city. On 17 October, they flanked rightwards, away from the principal road (to Pyongyang), to capture Hwangju. Two days later, the 1st Cavalry Division captured Pyongyang, the North's capital city, on 19 October 1950. Kim Il Sung and his government temporarily moved its capital to Sinuiju—although as UNC forces approached, the government again moved—this time to Kanggye.
On 15 October 1950, President Truman and General MacArthur met at Wake Island in the mid-Pacific Ocean. This meeting was much publicized because of the General's discourteous refusal to meet the President on the continental United States. To President Truman, MacArthur speculated there was little risk of Chinese intervention in Korea, and that the PRC's opportunity for aiding the KPA had lapsed. He believed the PRC had some 300,000 soldiers in Manchuria, and some 100,000–125,000 soldiers at the Yalu River. He further concluded that, although half of those forces might cross south, "if the Chinese tried to get down to Pyongyang, there would be the greatest slaughter" without air force protection.
After secretly crossing the Yalu River on 19 October, the PVA 13th Army Group launched the First Phase Offensive on 25 October, attacking the advancing UN forces near the Sino-Korean border. This military decision made solely by China changed the attitude of the Soviet Union. Twelve days after Chinese troops entered the war, Stalin allowed the Soviet Air Force to provide air cover, and supported more aid to China. After decimating the ROK II Corps at the Battle of Onjong, the first confrontation between Chinese and U.S. military occurred on 1 November 1950; deep in North Korea, thousands of soldiers from the PVA 39th Army encircled and attacked the U.S. 8th Cavalry Regiment with three-prong assaults—from the north, northwest, and west—and overran the defensive position flanks in the Battle of Unsan. The surprise assault resulted in the UN forces retreating back to the Ch'ongch'on River, while the Chinese unexpectedly disappeared into mountain hideouts following victory. It is unclear why the Chinese did not press the attack and follow up their victory.
On 25 November at the Korean western front, the PVA 13th Army Group attacked and overran the ROK II Corps at the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River, and then decimated the US 2nd Infantry Division on the UN forces' right flank. The UN Command retreated; the U.S. Eighth Army's retreat (the longest in US Army history) was made possible because of the Turkish Brigade's successful, but very costly, rear-guard delaying action near Kunuri that slowed the PVA attack for two days (27–29 November). On 27 November at the Korean eastern front, a U.S. 7th Infantry Division Regimental Combat Team (3,000 soldiers) and the U.S. 1st Marine Division (12,000–15,000 marines) were unprepared for the PVA 9th Army Group's three-pronged encirclement tactics at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, but escaped under Air Force and X Corps support fire—albeit with some 15,000 collective casualties.
Fighting around the 38th parallel (January – June 1951)With Lieutenant-General Matthew Ridgway assuming the command of the U.S. Eighth Army on 26 December, the PVA and the KPA launched their Third Phase Offensive (also known as the "Chinese New Year's Offensive") on New Year's Eve of 1950. Utilizing night attacks in which UN Command fighting positions were encircled and then assaulted by numerically superior troops who had the element of surprise, the attacks were accompanied by loud trumpets and gongs, which fulfilled the double purpose of facilitating tactical communication and mentally disorienting the enemy. UN forces initially had no familiarity with this tactic, and as a result some soldiers panicked, abandoning their weapons and retreating to the south. The Chinese New Year's Offensive overwhelmed UN forces, allowing the PVA and KPA to conquer Seoul for the second time on 4 January 1951.
UN forces retreated to Suwon in the west, Wonju in the center, and the territory north of Samcheok in the east, where the battlefront stabilized and held. The PVA had outrun its logistics capability and thus were unable to press on beyond Seoul as food, ammunition, and matériel were carried nightly, on foot and bicycle, from the border at the Yalu River to the three battle lines. In late January, upon finding that the PVA had abandoned their battle lines, General Ridgway ordered a reconnaissance-in-force, which became Operation Roundup (5 February 1951). A full-scale X Corps advance proceeded, which fully exploited the UN Command's air superiority, concluding with the UN reaching the Han River and recapturing Wonju.
After cease-fire negotiations failed in January, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 498 on 1 February, condemning PRC as an aggressor, and called upon its forces to withdraw from Korea.
In early February, the South Korean 11th Division ran the operation to destroy the guerrillas and their sympathizer citizens in Southern Korea. During the operation, the division and police conducted the Geochang massacre and Sancheong-Hamyang massacre. In mid-February, the PVA counterattacked with the Fourth Phase Offensive and achieved initial victory at Hoengseong. But the offensive was soon blunted by the IX Corps positions at Chipyong-ni in the center. The U.S. 2nd Infantry "Warrior" Division's 23rd Regimental Combat Team and the French Battalion fought a short but desperate battle that broke the attack's momentum. The battle is sometimes known as the Gettysburg of the Korean War. 5,600 Korean, American, and French troops were surrounded on all sides by 25,000 Chinese. United Nations forces had previously retreated in the face of large Communist forces instead of getting cut off, but this time they stood and fought, and won.
On 1 March 1951, Mao sent a cable to Stalin, in which he emphasized the difficulties faced by Chinese forces and the need for air cover, especially over supply lines. Apparently impressed by the Chinese war effort, Stalin agreed to supply two air force divisions, three anti-aircraft divisions, and six thousand trucks. PVA troops in Korea continued to suffer severe logistical problems throughout the war. In late April Peng Dehuai sent his deputy, Hong Xuezhi, to brief Zhou Enlai in Beijing. What Chinese soldiers feared, Hong said, was not the enemy, but having no food, bullets, or trucks to transport them to the rear when they were wounded. Zhou attempted to respond to the PVA's logistical concerns by increasing Chinese production and improving supply methods, but these efforts were never sufficient. At the same time, large-scale air defense training programs were carried out, and the Chinese Air Force began participating in the war from September 1951 onward.
On 11 April 1951, Commander-in-Chief Truman relieved the controversial General MacArthur, the Supreme Commander in Korea. There were several reasons for the dismissal. MacArthur crossed the 38th parallel in the mistaken belief that the Chinese would not enter the war, leading to major allied losses. He believed that whether to use nuclear weapons should be his decision, not the President's. MacArthur threatened to destroy China unless it surrendered. While MacArthur felt total victory was the only honorable outcome, Truman was more pessimistic about his chances once involved in a land war in Asia, and felt a truce and orderly withdrawal from Korea could be a valid solution. MacArthur was the subject of congressional hearings in May and June 1951, which determined that he had defied the orders of the President and thus had violated the U.S. Constitution. A popular criticism of MacArthur was that he never spent a night in Korea, and directed the war from the safety of Tokyo.
MacArthur was relieved primarily from his determination to expand the war into China, which other officials believed would needlessly escalate a limited war and consume too many already overstretched resources. Despite MacArthur's claims that he was restricted to fighting a limited war when China was fighting all-out, congressional testimony revealed China was using restraint as much as the Americans were, as they were not using air power against front line troops, communication lines, ports, naval air forces, or staging bases in Japan, which had been crucial to the survival of UN forces in Korea. Simply fighting on the peninsula had already tied down significant portions of U.S. airpower; as Air Force chief of staff Hoyt Vandenberg said, 80-85% the tactical capacity, one-fourth of the strategic portion, and 20% of air defense forces of the United States were engaged in a single country. There was also fear that crossing into China would provoke the Soviet Union into entering the war; General Omar Bradley testified that there were 35 Russian divisions totaling some 500,000 troops in the Far East, which if sent into action with the approximately 85 Russian submarines in the vicinity of Korea, they could overwhelm U.S. forces and cut supply lines, as well as potentially assist China in taking over territory in Southeast Asia.
The Chinese counterattacked in April 1951, with the Fifth Phase Offensive, also known as the Chinese Spring Offensive, with three field armies (approximately 700,000 men). The offensive's first thrust fell upon I Corps, which fiercely resisted in the Battle of the Imjin River (22–25 April 1951) and the Battle of Kapyong (22–25 April 1951), blunting the impetus of the offensive, which was halted at the "No-name Line" north of Seoul. On 15 May 1951, the Chinese commenced the second impulse of the Spring Offensive and attacked the ROK Army and the U.S. X Corps in the east at the Soyang River. After initial success, they were halted by 20 May. At month's end, the U.S. Eighth Army counterattacked and regained "Line Kansas", just north of the 38th parallel. The UN's "Line Kansas" halt and subsequent offensive action stand-down began the stalemate that lasted until the armistice of 1953.
Stalemate (July 1951 – July 1953)
The principal battles of the stalemate include the Battle of Bloody Ridge (18 August–15 September 1951), the Battle of the Punchbowl (31 August-21 September 1951), the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge (13 September–15 October 1951), the Battle of Old Baldy (26 June–4 August 1952), the Battle of White Horse (6–15 October 1952), the Battle of Triangle Hill (14 October–25 November 1952), the Battle of Hill Eerie (21 March–21 June 1952), the sieges of Outpost Harry (10–18 June 1953), the Battle of the Hook (28–29 May 1953), the Battle of Pork Chop Hill (23 March–16 July 1953), and the Battle of Kumsong (13–27 July 1953).
Chinese troops suffered from deficient military equipment, serious logistical problems, overextended communication and supply lines, and the constant threat of UN bombers. All of these factors generally led to a rate of Chinese casualties that was far greater than the casualties suffered by UN troops. The situation became so serious that, on November 1951, Zhou Enlai called a conference in Shenyang to discuss the PVA's logistical problems. At the meeting it was decided to accelerate the construction of railways and airfields in the area, to increase the number of trucks available to the army, and to improve air defense by any means possible. These commitments did little to directly address the problems confronting PVA troops.
In the months after the Shenyang conference Peng Dehuai went to Beijing several times to brief Mao and Zhou about the heavy casualties suffered by Chinese troops and the increasing difficulty of keeping the front lines supplied with basic necessities. Peng was convinced that the war would be protracted, and that neither side would be able to achieve victory in the near future. On 24 February 1952, the Military Commission, presided over by Zhou, discussed the PVA's logistical problems with members of various government agencies involved in the war effort. After the government representatives emphasized their inability to meet the demands of the war, Peng, in an angry outburst, shouted: "You have this and that problem... You should go to the front and see with your own eyes what food and clothing the soldiers have! Not to speak of the casualties! For what are they giving their lives? We have no aircraft. We have only a few guns. Transports are not protected. More and more soldiers are dying of starvation. Can't you overcome some of your difficulties?" The atmosphere became so tense that Zhou was forced to adjourn the conference. Zhou subsequently called a series of meetings, where it was agreed that the PVA would be divided into three groups, to be dispatched to Korea in shifts; to accelerate the training of Chinese pilots; to provide more anti-aircraft guns to the front lines; to purchase more military equipment and ammunition from the Soviet Union; to provide the army with more food and clothing; and, to transfer the responsibility of logistics to the central government.
Armistice (July 1953 – November 1954)
In 1952, the United States elected a new president, and on 29 November 1952, the president-elect, Dwight D. Eisenhower, went to Korea to learn what might end the Korean War. With the United Nations' acceptance of India's proposed Korean War armistice, the KPA, the PVA, and the UN Command ceased fire with the battle line approximately at the 38th parallel. Upon agreeing to the armistice, the belligerents established the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which has since been patrolled by the KPA and ROKA, United States, and Joint UN Commands.
The Demilitarized Zone runs northeast of the 38th parallel; to the south, it travels west. The old Korean capital city of Kaesong, site of the armistice negotiations, originally was in pre-war South Korea, but now is part of North Korea. The United Nations Command, supported by the United States, the North Korean People's Army, and the Chinese People's Volunteers, signed the Armistice Agreement on 27 July 1953 to end the fighting. The Armistice also called upon the governments of South Korea, North Korea, China and the United States to participate in continued peace talks. The war is considered to have ended at this point, even though there was no peace treaty. North Korea nevertheless claims that it won the Korean War.
After the war, Operation Glory was conducted from July to November 1954, to allow combatant countries to exchange their dead. The remains of 4,167 U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps dead were exchanged for 13,528 KPA and PVA dead, and 546 civilians dead in UN prisoner-of-war camps were delivered to the South Korean government. After Operation Glory, 416 Korean War unknown soldiers were buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (The Punchbowl), on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) records indicate that the PRC and the DPRK transmitted 1,394 names, of which 858 were correct. From 4,167 containers of returned remains, forensic examination identified 4,219 individuals. Of these, 2,944 were identified as American, and all but 416 were identified by name. From 1996 to 2006, the DPRK recovered 220 remains near the Sino-Korean border.
Division of Korea (1954–present)
In April 1975, South Vietnam's capital was captured by the North Vietnamese army. Encouraged by the success of Communist revolution in Indochina, Kim Il-sung saw it as an opportunity to invade the South. Kim visited China in April of that year, and met with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai to ask for military aid. Despite Pyongyang's expectations, however, Beijing refused to help North Korea for another war in Korea.
After a new wave of UN sanctions, on 11 March 2013, North Korea claimed that it invalidated the 1953 armistice. On 13 March 2013, North Korea confirmed it ended the 1953 Armistice and declared North Korea "is not restrained by the North-South declaration on non-aggression". On 30 March 2013, North Korea stated that it entered a "state of war" with South Korea and declared that "The long-standing situation of the Korean peninsula being neither at peace nor at war is finally over". Speaking on 4 April 2013, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, informed the press that Pyongyang "formally informed" the Pentagon that it "ratified" the potential use of a nuclear weapon against South Korea, Japan and the United States of America, including Guam and Hawaii. Hagel also stated the United States would deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-ballistic missile system to Guam, because of a credible and realistic nuclear threat from North Korea.
In 2016, it was revealed that North Korea approached the United States about conducting formal peace talks to formally end the war. While the White House agreed to secret peace talks, the plan was rejected due to the country's refusal to discuss nuclear disarmament as part of the terms of the treaty. Any possibility of talks ended on 6 January when they conducted their fourth nuclear test.
CasualtiesAccording to the data from the U.S. Department of Defense, the United States suffered 33,686 battle deaths, along with 2,830 non-battle deaths, during the Korean War. U.S. battle deaths were 8,516 up to their first engagement with the Chinese on 1 November 1950. South Korea reported some 373,599 civilian and 137,899 military deaths. Western sources estimate the PVA suffered about 400,000 killed and 486,000 wounded, while the KPA suffered 215,000 killed and 303,000 wounded.
Data from official Chinese sources, on the other hand, reported that the PVA had suffered 114,000 battle deaths, 34,000 non-battle deaths, 340,000 wounded, 7,600 missing and during the war. 7,110 Chinese POWs were repatriated to China. Chinese sources also reported that North Korea had suffered 290,000 casualties, 90,000 captured and a large number of civilian deaths.
The Chinese and North Koreans estimated that about 390,000 soldiers from the United States, 660,000 soldiers from South Korea and 29,000 other UN soldiers were "eliminated" from the battlefield.
Recent scholarship puts the full battle death toll on all sides at just over 1.2 million.
Armored warfareThe initial assault by North Korean KPA forces was aided by the use of Soviet T-34-85 tanks. A North Korean tank corps equipped with about 120 T-34s spearheaded the invasion. These drove against a ROK Army with few anti-tank weapons adequate to deal with the Soviet T-34s. Additional Soviet armor was added as the offensive progressed. The North Korean tanks had a good deal of early successes against South Korean infantry, elements of the 24th Infantry Division, and the United States built M24 Chaffee light tanks that they encountered. Interdiction by ground attack aircraft was the only means of slowing the advancing Korean armor. The tide turned in favour of the United Nations forces in August 1950 when the North Koreans suffered major tank losses during a series of battles in which the UN forces brought heavier equipment to bear, including M4A3 Sherman medium tanks backed by U.S. M26 heavy tanks, along with British Centurion, Churchill, and Cromwell tanks.
The U.S. landings at Inchon on 15 September cut off the North Korean supply lines, causing their armored forces and infantry to run out of fuel, ammunition, and other supplies. As a result, the North Koreans had to retreat, and many of the T-34s and heavy weapons had to be abandoned. By the time the North Koreans withdrew from the South, a total of 239 T-34s and 74 SU-76s were lost. After November 1950, North Korean armor was rarely encountered.
Following the initial assault by the north, the Korean War saw limited use of tanks and featured no large-scale tank battles. The mountainous, forested terrain, especially in the Eastern Central Zone, was poor tank country, limiting their mobility. Through the last two years of the war in Korea, UN tanks served largely as infantry support and mobile artillery pieces.
Because neither Korea had a significant navy, the Korean War featured few naval battles. A skirmish between North Korea and the UN Command occurred on 2 July 1950; the U.S. Navy cruiser USS Juneau, the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Jamaica, and the frigate HMS Black Swan fought four North Korean torpedo boats and two mortar gunboats, and sank them. USS Juneau later sank several ammunition ships that had been present. The last sea battle of the Korean War occurred at Inchon, days before the Battle of Incheon; the ROK ship PC-703 sank a North Korean mine layer in the Battle of Haeju Island, near Inchon. Three other supply ships were sunk by PC-703 two days later in the Yellow Sea. Thereafter, vessels from the UN nations held undisputed control of the sea about Korea. The gun ships were used in shore bombardment, while the aircraft carriers provided air support to the ground forces.
During most of the war, the UN navies patrolled the west and east coasts of North Korea, sinking supply and ammunition ships and denying the North Koreans the ability to resupply from the sea. Aside from very occasional gunfire from North Korean shore batteries, the main threat to United States and UN navy ships was from magnetic mines. During the war, five U.S. Navy ships were lost to mines: two minesweepers, two minesweeper escorts, and one ocean tug. Mines and gunfire from North Korean coastal artillery damaged another 87 U.S. warships, resulting in slight to moderate damage.
Aerial warfareFurther information: MiG Alley, USAF Units and Aircraft of the Korean War, and Korean People's Air ForceThe Korean War was the first war in which jet aircraft played the central role in air combat. Once-formidable fighters such as the P-51 Mustang, F4U Corsair, and Hawker Sea Fury—all piston-engined, propeller-driven, and designed during World War II—relinquished their air-superiority roles to a new generation of faster, jet-powered fighters arriving in the theater. For the initial months of the war, the P-80 Shooting Star, F9F Panther, Gloster Meteor and other jets under the UN flag dominated North Korea's prop-driven air force of Soviet Yakovlev Yak-9 and Lavochkin La-9s.
The Chinese intervention in late October 1950 bolstered the Korean People's Air Force (KPAF) of North Korea with the MiG-15, one of the world's most advanced jet fighters. The heavily armed MiGs were faster than first-generation UN jets and so could reach and destroy U.S. B-29 Superfortress bomber flights despite their fighter escorts. With increasing B-29 losses, the Air Force was forced to switch from a daylight bombing campaign to a safer but less accurate nighttime bombing of targets.
In summer and autumn 1951, the outnumbered Sabres of the USAF's 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing—only 44 at one point—continued seeking battle in MiG Alley, where the Yalu River marks the Chinese border, against Chinese and North Korean air forces capable of deploying some 500 aircraft. Following Colonel Harrison Thyng's communication with the Pentagon, the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing finally reinforced the beleaguered 4th Wing in December 1951; for the next year-and-a-half stretch of the war, aerial warfare continued.
After the war, and to the present day, the USAF reports an F-86 Sabre kill ratio in excess of 10:1, with 792 MiG-15s and 108 other aircraft shot down by Sabres, and 78 Sabres lost to enemy fire. The Soviet Air Force reported some 1,100 air-to-air victories and 335 MiG combat losses, while China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) reported 231 combat losses, mostly MiG-15s, and 168 other aircraft lost. The KPAF reported no data, but the UN Command estimates some 200 KPAF aircraft lost in the war's first stage, and 70 additional aircraft after the Chinese intervention. The USAF disputes Soviet and Chinese claims of 650 and 211 downed F-86s, respectively. However, one unconfirmed source claims that the U.S. Air Force has more recently cited 230 losses out of 674 F-86s deployed to Korea.[not in citation given]
The Korean War marked a major milestone not only for fixed-wing aircraft, but also for rotorcraft, featuring the first large-scale deployment of helicopters for medical evacuation (medevac). In 1944–1945, during the Second World War, the YR-4 helicopter saw limited ambulance duty, but in Korea, where rough terrain trumped the jeep as a speedy medevac vehicle, helicopters like the Sikorsky H-19 helped reduce fatal casualties to a dramatic degree when combined with complementary medical innovations such as Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals. The limitations of jet aircraft for close air support highlighted the helicopter's potential in the role, leading to development of the AH-1 Cobra and other helicopter gunships used in the Vietnam War (1965–75).
Bombing North KoreaThe first major U.S. strategic bombing campaign against North Korea, begun in late July 1950, was conceived much along the lines of the major offensives of World War II. On 12 August 1950, the U.S. Air Force dropped 625 tons of bombs on North Korea; two weeks later, the daily tonnage increased to some 800 tons. After the Chinese intervention in November, General MacArthur ordered the increased bombing campaign on North Korea, including incendiary attacks against their arsenals and communications centers and especially against the "Korean end" of all the bridges across the Yalu River. As with the aerial bombing campaigns over Germany and Japan in World War II, the nominal objective of the U.S. Air Force was to destroy North Korea's war infrastructure and shatter their morale. After MacArthur was removed as Supreme Commander in Korea in April 1951, his successors continued this policy and eventually extended it to all of North Korea. Overall, the U.S. dropped 635,000 tons of bombs—including 32,557 tons of napalm—on Korea, more than they did during the whole Pacific campaign of World War II.
As well as conventional bombing, the Communist side claimed that the U.S. used biological weapons. These claims have been disputed; Conrad Crane asserts that while the U.S. worked towards developing chemical and biological weapons, the American military "possessed neither the ability, nor the will", to use them in combat.
U.S. threat of atomic warfare
Many American officials viewed the deployment of nuclear-capable (but not nuclear-armed) B-29 bombers to Britain as helping to resolve the Berlin Blockade of 1948–1949. Truman and Eisenhower both had military experience and viewed nuclear weapons as potentially usable components of their military. During Truman's first meeting to discuss the war on 25 June 1950, he ordered plans be prepared for attacking Soviet forces if they entered the war. By July, Truman approved another B-29 deployment to Britain, this time with bombs (but without their cores), to remind the Soviets of American offensive ability. Deployment of a similar fleet to Guam was leaked to The New York Times. As United Nations forces retreated to Pusan, and the CIA reported that mainland China was building up forces for a possible invasion of Taiwan, the Pentagon believed that Congress and the public would demand using nuclear weapons if the situation in Korea required them.
As Chinese forces pushed back the United States forces from the Yalu River, Truman stated during a 30 November 1950 press conference that using nuclear weapons was "always [under] active consideration", with control under the local military commander. The Indian ambassador, K. Madhava Panikkar, reports "that Truman announced he was thinking of using the atom bomb in Korea. But the Chinese seemed unmoved by this threat ... The propaganda against American aggression was stepped up. The 'Aid Korea to resist America' campaign was made the slogan for increased production, greater national integration, and more rigid control over anti-national activities. One could not help feeling that Truman's threat came in useful to the leaders of the Revolution, to enable them to keep up the tempo of their activities."
After his statement caused concern in Europe, Truman met on 4 December 1950 with UK prime minister and Commonwealth spokesman Clement Attlee, French Premier René Pleven, and Foreign Minister Robert Schuman to discuss their worries about atomic warfare and its likely continental expansion. The United States' forgoing atomic warfare was not because of "a disinclination by the Soviet Union and People's Republic of China to escalate" the Korean War, but because UN allies—notably from the UK, the Commonwealth, and France—were concerned about a geopolitical imbalance rendering NATO defenseless while the United States fought China, who then might persuade the Soviet Union to conquer Western Europe. The Joint Chiefs of Staff advised Truman to tell Attlee that the United States would use nuclear weapons only if necessary to protect an evacuation of UN troops, or to prevent a "major military disaster".
On 6 December 1950, after the Chinese intervention repelled the UN Command armies from northern North Korea, General J. Lawton Collins (Army Chief of Staff), General MacArthur, Admiral C. Turner Joy, General George E. Stratemeyer, and staff officers Major General Doyle Hickey, Major General Charles A. Willoughby, and Major General Edwin K. Wright met in Tokyo to plan strategy countering the Chinese intervention; they considered three potential atomic warfare scenarios encompassing the next weeks and months of warfare.
- In the first scenario: If the PVA continued attacking in full and the UN Command was forbidden to blockade and bomb China, and without ROC reinforcements, and without an increase in U.S. forces until April 1951 (four National Guard divisions were due to arrive), then atomic bombs might be used in North Korea.
- In the second scenario: If the PVA continued full attacks and the UN Command blockaded China and had effective aerial reconnaissance and bombing of the Chinese interior, and the ROC soldiers were maximally exploited, and tactical atomic bombing was to hand, then the UN forces could hold positions deep in North Korea.
- In the third scenario: if China agreed to not cross the 38th parallel border, General MacArthur recommended UN acceptance of an armistice disallowing PVA and KPA troops south of the parallel, and requiring PVA and KPA guerrillas to withdraw northwards. The U.S. Eighth Army would remain to protect the Seoul–Incheon area, while X Corps would retreat to Pusan. A UN commission should supervise implementation of the armistice.
In 1951, the U.S. escalated closest to atomic warfare in Korea. Because China deployed new armies to the Sino-Korean frontier, pit crews at the Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, assembled atomic bombs for Korean warfare, "lacking only the essential pit nuclear cores". In October 1951, the United States effected Operation Hudson Harbor to establish a nuclear weapons capability. USAF B-29 bombers practised individual bombing runs from Okinawa to North Korea (using dummy nuclear or conventional bombs), coordinated from Yokota Air Base in east-central Japan. Hudson Harbor tested "actual functioning of all activities which would be involved in an atomic strike, including weapons assembly and testing, leading, ground control of bomb aiming". The bombing run data indicated that atomic bombs would be tactically ineffective against massed infantry, because the "timely identification of large masses of enemy troops was extremely rare."
Ridgway was authorized to use nuclear weapons if a major air attack originated from outside Korea. An envoy was sent to Hong Kong to deliver a warning to China. The message likely caused Chinese leaders to be more cautious about potential American use of nuclear weapons, but whether they learned about the B-29 deployment is unclear and the failure of the two major Chinese offensives that month likely was what caused them to shift to a defensive strategy in Korea. The B-29s returned to the United States in June.
Despite the greater destructive power deploying atomic weapons would bring to the war, their effects on determining the war's outcome would have likely been minimal. Tactically, given the dispersed nature of Chinese and North Korean forces, the relatively primitive infrastructure for staging and logistics centers, and the small number of bombs available (most would have been conserved for use against the Soviets), atomic attacks would have limited effects against the ability of China to mobilize and move forces. Strategically, attacking Chinese cities to destroy civilian industry and infrastructure would cause the immediate dispersion of the leadership away from such areas and give propaganda value for the communists to galvanize the support of Chinese civilians. Since the Soviets were not expected to intervene with their few primitive atomic weapons on China or North Korea's behalf if the U.S. used theirs first, factors such as little operational value and the lowering of the "threshold" for using atomic weapons against non-nuclear states in future conflicts played more of a role in not employing them than the threat of a possible nuclear exchange.
When Eisenhower succeeded Truman in early 1953 he was similarly cautious about using nuclear weapons in Korea, including for diplomatic purposes to encourage progress in ongoing truce discussions. The administration prepared contingency plans to use them against China, but like Truman, the new president feared doing so would result in Soviet attacks on Japan. The war ended as it began, without American nuclear weapons deployed near battle.
Civilian deaths and massacresFurther information: Bodo League massacre, Seoul National University Hospital massacre, No Gun Ri Massacre, Sinchon Massacre, Ganghwa massacre, Sancheong-Hamyang massacre, and Geochang massacre
In occupied areas, North Korean Army political officers purged South Korean society of its intelligentsia by executing every educated person—academic, governmental, religious—who might lead resistance against the North; the purges continued during the NPA retreat. When the North Koreans retreated north in September 1950, they abducted tens of thousands of South Korean men. The reasons are not clear, but the intention might have been to acquire skilled professionals to the North.
In addition to conventional military operations, North Korean soldiers fought the UN forces by infiltrating guerrillas among refugees. These soldiers disguised as refugees would approach UN forces asking for food and help, then open fire and attack. U.S. troops acted under a "shoot-first-ask-questions-later" policy against any civilian refugee approaching U.S. battlefield positions, a policy that led U.S. soldiers to kill an estimated 400 civilians at No Gun Ri (26–29 July 1950) in central Korea because they believed some of the refugees to be North Korean soldiers in disguise. The South Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission defended this policy as a "military necessity".
Beginning in 2005, the South Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission has investigated numerous atrocities committed by the Japanese colonial government, North Korean military, U.S. military, and the authoritarian South Korean government. It has investigated atrocities before, during and after the Korean War.
The Commission verified over 14,000 civilians were killed in the Jeju uprising (1948–49) that involved South Korean military and paramilitary units against pro-North Korean guerrillas. Although most of the fighting subsided by 1949, it continued until 1950. The Commission estimates 86% of the civilians were killed by South Korean forces. The Americans on the island documented the events, but never intervened.
Prisoners of warSee also: Korean POWs detained in North Korea, Hill 303 massacre, and List of American and British defectors in the Korean War
The United States reported that North Korea mistreated prisoners of war: soldiers were beaten, starved, put to forced labor, marched to death, and summarily executed.
The KPA killed POWs at the battles for Hill 312, Hill 303, the Pusan Perimeter, and Daejeon; these massacres were discovered afterwards by the UN forces. Later, a U.S. Congress war crimes investigation, the United States Senate Subcommittee on Korean War Atrocities of the Permanent Subcommittee of the Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations, reported that "two-thirds of all American prisoners of war in Korea died as a result of war crimes".
Although the Chinese rarely executed prisoners like their North Korean counterparts, mass starvation and diseases swept through the Chinese-run POW camps during the winter of 1950–51. About 43 percent of U.S. POWs died during this period. The Chinese defended their actions by stating that all Chinese soldiers during this period were suffering mass starvation and diseases due to logistical difficulties. The UN POWs said that most of the Chinese camps were located near the easily supplied Sino-Korean border, and that the Chinese withheld food to force the prisoners to accept the communism indoctrination programs. According to Chinese reports, over a thousand U.S. POWs died by the end of June 1951, while a dozen British POWs died, and all Turkish POW survived. According to Hastings, wounded U.S. POWs died for lack of medical attention and were fed a diet of corn and millet "devoid of vegetables, almost barren of proteins, minerals, or vitamins" with only 1/3 the calories of their usual diet. Especially in early 1951, thousands of prisoners lost the will to live and "declined to eat the mess of sorghum and rice they were provided."
The unpreparedness of U.S. POWs to resist heavy communist indoctrination during the Korean War led to the Code of the United States Fighting Force which governs how U.S. military personnel in combat should act when they must "evade capture, resist while a prisoner or escape from the enemy".
North Korea may have detained up to 50,000 South Korean POWs after the ceasefire.:141 Over 88,000 South Korean soldiers were missing and the Communists' claimed they captured 70,000 South Koreans.:142 However, when ceasefire negotiations began in 1951, the Communists reported they held only 8,000 South Koreans. The UN Command protested the discrepancies and alleged that the Communists were forcing South Korean POWs to join the KPA.
The Communist side denied such allegations. They claimed their POW rosters were small because many POWs were killed in UN air raids and that they had released ROK soldiers at the front. They insisted only volunteers were allowed to serve in the KPA.:143 By early 1952, UN negotiators gave up trying to get back the missing South Koreans.  The POW exchange proceeded without access to South Korean POWs not on the Communist rosters.
North Korea continued to claim that any South Korean POW who stayed in the North did so voluntarily. However, since 1994, South Korean POWs have been escaping North Korea on their own after decades of captivity. As of 2010, the South Korean Ministry of Unification reported that 79 ROK POWs escaped the North. The South Korean government estimates 500 South Korean POWs continue to be detained in North Korea.
The escaped POWs have testified about their treatment and written memoirs about their lives in North Korea. They report they were not told about the POW exchange procedures, and were assigned to work in mines in the remote northeastern regions near the Chinese and Russian border.:31 Declassified Soviet Foreign Ministry documents corroborate such testimony.
In 1997, the Geoje POW Camp in South Korea was turned into a memorial.
StarvationSee also: National Defense Corps IncidentIn December 1950, National Defense Corps was founded; the soldiers were 406,000 drafted citizens. In the winter of 1951, 50,000 to 90,000 South Korean National Defense Corps soldiers starved to death while marching southward under the Chinese offensive when their commanding officers embezzled funds earmarked for their food. This event is called the National Defense Corps Incident. There is no evidence that Syngman Rhee was personally involved in or benefited from the corruption.
RecreationFurther information: United Service Organizations
AftermathMain article: Aftermath of the Korean War
Following extensive USAF bombing, North Korea "had been virtually destroyed as an industrial society." After the armistice, Kim Il-Sung requested Soviet economic and industrial assistance. In September 1953, the Soviet government agreed to "cancel or postpone repayment for all ... outstanding debts", and promised to grant North Korea one billion rubles in monetary aid, industrial equipment and consumer goods. Eastern European members of the Soviet Bloc also contributed with "logistical support, technical aid, [and] medical supplies." China cancelled North Korea's war debts, provided 800 million yuan, promised trade cooperation, and sent in thousands of troops to rebuild damaged infrastructure.
Postwar, about 100,000 North Koreans were executed in purges. According to Rummel, forced labor and concentration camps were responsible for over one million deaths in North Korea from 1945 to 1987; others have estimated 400,000 deaths in concentration camps alone. Estimates based on the most recent North Korean census suggest that 240,000 to 420,000 people died as a result of the 1990s North Korean famine and that there were 600,000 to 850,000 unnatural deaths in North Korea from 1993 to 2008. The North Korean government has been accused of "crimes against humanity" for its alleged culpability in creating and prolonging the 1990s famine. A study by South Korean anthropologists of North Korean children who had defected to China found that 18-year-old males were 5 inches shorter than South Koreans their age because of malnutrition.
South Korean anti-Americanism after the war was fueled by the presence and behavior of American military personnel (USFK) and U.S. support for the authoritarian regime, a fact still evident during the country's democratic transition in the 1980s. However, anti-Americanism has declined significantly in South Korea in recent years, from 46% favorable in 2003 to 74% favorable in 2011, making South Korea one of the most pro-American countries in the world.
In addition, a large number of mixed-race "G.I. babies" (offspring of American and other UN soldiers and Korean women) were filling up the country's orphanages. Because Korean traditional society places significant weight on paternal family ties, bloodlines, and purity of race, children of mixed race or those without fathers are not easily accepted in South Korean society. International adoption of Korean children began in 1954. The U.S. Immigration Act of 1952 legalized the naturalization of non-whites as American citizens, and made possible the entry of military spouses and children from South Korea after the Korean War. With the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965, which substantially changed U.S. immigration policy toward non-Europeans, Koreans became one of the fastest-growing Asian groups in the United States.
Mao Zedong's decision to take on the United States in the Korean War was a direct attempt to confront what the Communist bloc viewed as the strongest anti-Communist power in the world, undertaken at a time when the Chinese Communist regime was still consolidating its own power after winning the Chinese Civil War. Mao supported intervention not to save North Korea, but because he believed that a military conflict with the United States was inevitable after the United States entered the Korean War, and to appease the Soviet Union to secure military dispensation and achieve Mao's goal of making China a major world military power. Mao was equally ambitious in improving his own prestige inside the communist international community by demonstrating that his Marxist concerns were international. In his later years Mao believed that Stalin only gained a positive opinion of him after China's entrance into the Korean War. Inside Mainland China, the war improved the long-term prestige of Mao, Zhou, and Peng, allowing the Chinese Communist Party to increase its legitimacy while weakening anti-Communist dissent.
The Korean War affected other participant combatants. Turkey, for example, entered NATO in 1952, and the foundation was laid for bilateral diplomatic and trade relations with South Korea.
- 1st Commonwealth Division
- Australia in the Korean War
- Canada in the Korean War
- Historical revisionism (negationism)#North Korea and the Korean War
- Joint Advisory Commission, Korea
- Korean conflict
- Korean DMZ Conflict (1966–1969)
- Korean reunification
- Korean War in popular culture
- List of books about the Korean War
- List of Korean War weapons
- List of Korean War Medal of Honor recipients
- List of military equipment used in the Korean War
- List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll
- New Zealand in the Korean War
- Operation Big Switch
- Operation Little Switch
- Operation Moolah
- Partisans in Korean War, Partisan Movement
- Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea
- Pyongyang Sally
- UNCMAC — the UN Command Military Armistice Commission operating from 1953 to the present
- UNCURK — the 1951 UN Commission for the Unification and Rehabilitation of Korea
- UNTCOK — the 1950 United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea
- M*A*S*H – TV series
- MASH – film
- War memorials:
- On 9 July 1951 troop constituents were: US: 70.4%, ROK: 23.3% other UNC: 6.3%
- See 50 U.S.C. S 1601: "All powers and authorities possessed by the President, any other officer or employee of the Federal Government, or any executive agency... as a result of the existence of any declaration of national emergency in effect on 14 September 1976 are terminated two years from 14 September 1976."; Jolley v. INS, 441 F.2d 1245, 1255 n.17 (5th Cir. 1971).
- Rivera, Gilberto (May 3, 2016). Puerto Rican Bloodshed on The 38th Parallel: U.S. Army Against Puerto Ricans Inside The Korean War. p. 24. ISBN 978-1539098942.
- Cumings, B (2011). The Korean War: A history. New York: Modern Library.
- Kraus, Daniel (2013). The Korean War. Booklist.
- Warner, G. (1980). The Korean War. International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944–).
- Appleman, Roy E (1998) . South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu. United States Army Center of Military History. pp. 3, 15, 381, 545, 771, 719. ISBN 0-16-001918-4.
- Barnouin, Barbara; Yu, Changgeng (2006). Zhou Enlai: A Political Life. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press. ISBN 962-996-280-2.
- Becker, Jasper (2005). Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-517044-X.
- Blair, Clay (2003). The Forgotten War: America in Korea, 1950–1953. Naval Institute Press.
- Chen, Jian (1994). China's Road to the Korean War: The Making of the Sino-American Confrontation. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-10025-0.
- Cumings, Bruce (2005). Korea's Place in the Sun : A Modern History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-32702-7.
- Cumings, Bruce (1981). "3, 4". Origins of the Korean War. Princeton University Press. ISBN 89-7696-612-0.
- Dear, Ian; Foot, M.R.D. (1995). The Oxford Companion to World War II. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 516. ISBN 0-19-866225-4.
- Goulden, Joseph C (1983). Korea: The Untold Story of the War. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 17. ISBN 0-07-023580-5.
- Halberstam, David (2007). The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 978-1-4013-0052-4.
- Hermes, Walter G. (1992), Truce Tent and Fighting Front, Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army, ISBN 0-16-035957-0
- Jager, Sheila Miyoshi (2013). Brothers at War – The Unending Conflict in Korea. London: Profile Books. ISBN 978-1-84668-067-0.
- Kim, Yǒng-jin (1973). Major Powers and Korea. Silver Spring, MD: Research Institute on Korean Affairs. OCLC 251811671.
- Malkasian, Carter (2001). The Korean War, 1950–1953. Essential Histories. London; Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn. ISBN 1-57958-364-4.
- Millett, Allan R. (2007). The Korean War: The Essential Bibliography. The Essential Bibliography Series. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books Inc. ISBN 978-1-57488-976-5.
- Mossman, Billy C. (1990). Ebb and Flow, November 1950 – July 1951. United States Army in the Korean War. 5. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army. OCLC 16764325.
- Perrett, Bryan (1987). Soviet Armour Since 1945. London: Blandford. ISBN 0-7137-1735-1.
- Ravino, Jerry; Carty, Jack (2003). Flame Dragons of the Korean War. Paducah, KY: Turner.
- Rees, David (1964). Korea: The Limited War. New York: St Martin's. OCLC 1078693.
- Stein, R. Conrad (1994). The Korean War: "The Forgotten War". Hillside, NJ: Enslow Publishers. ISBN 0-89490-526-0.
- Stokesbury, James L (1990). A Short History of the Korean War. New York: Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-688-09513-5.
- Stueck, William W. (1995), The Korean War: An International History, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-03767-1
- Stueck, William W. (2002), Rethinking the Korean War: A New Diplomatic and Strategic History, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-11847-7
- Weathersby, Kathryn (1993), Soviet Aims in Korea and the Origins of the Korean War, 1945–50: New Evidence From the Russian Archives, Cold War International History Project: Working Paper No. 8
- Weathersby, Kathryn (2002), "Should We Fear This?" Stalin and the Danger of War with America, Cold War International History Project: Working Paper No. 39
- Werrell, Kenneth P. (2005). Sabres Over MiG Alley. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-933-0.
- Zaloga, Steven J., Jim Kinnear, Andrey Aksenov & Aleksandr Koshchavtsev (1997). Soviet Tanks in Combat 1941–45: The T-28, T-34, T-34-85, and T-44 Medium Tanks, Hong Kong: Concord Publication. ISBN 962-361-615-5
- Zhang, Shu Guang (1995), Mao's Military Romanticism: China and the Korean War, 1950–1953, Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, ISBN 0-7006-0723-4
- Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice: Truman on Acheson's Crucial Role in Going to War Shapell Manuscript Foundation
- Korean War resources, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library
- North Korea International Documentation Project
- Grand Valley State University Veteran's History Project digital collection
- The Forgotten War, Remembered – four testimonials in The New York Times
- Collection of Books and Research Materials on the Korean War an online collection of the United States Army Center of Military History
- Korean War, US Army Signal Corps Photograph Collection US Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
- The Korean War at History.com
- The short film Film No. 927 is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- The Korean War You Never Knew – slideshows by Life magazine
- QuickTime sequence of 27 maps adapted from the West Point Atlas of American Wars
- Animation for operations in 1950
- Animation for operations in 1951
- US Army Korea Media Center official Korean War online image archive
- Rare pictures of the Korean War from the U.S. Library of Congress and National Archives
- on YouTube
- Land of the Morning Calm Canadians in Korea – multimedia project including veteran interviews
- Pathé Online newsreel archive featuring films on the war
- CBC Digital Archives—Forgotten Heroes: Canada and the Korean War
- Korea Defense Veterans of America
- Korean War Ex-POW Association
- Korean War Veterans Association
- The Center for the Study of the Korean War
India could not be considered neutral.
Total Strength 602,902 troops
Ashley Rowland (22 October 2008). "U.S. to keep troop levels the same in South Korea". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
Colonel Tommy R. Mize, United States Army (12 March 2012). "U.S. Troops Stationed in South Korea, Anachronistic?". United States Army War College. Defense Technical Information Center. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
Louis H. Zanardi; Barbara A. Schmitt; Peter Konjevich; M. Elizabeth Guran; Susan E. Cohen; Judith A. McCloskey (August 1991). "Military Presence: U.S. Personnel in the Pacific Theater" (PDF). Reports to Congressional Requesters. United States General Accounting Office. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
Republic of Korea – 590,911
Colombia – 1,068
United States – 302,483
Belgium – 900
United Kingdom – 14,198
South Africa – 826
Canada – 6,146
The Netherlands – 819
Turkey – 5,453
Luxembourg – 44
Australia – 2,282
Philippines – 1,496
New Zealand – 1,385
Thailand – 1,204
Ethiopia – 1,271
Greece – 1,263
France – 1,119
A peak strength of 14,198 British troops was reached in 1952, with over 40,000 total serving in Korea.
"UK-Korea Relations". British Embassy Pyongyang. Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 9 February 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
When war came to Korea in June 1950, Britain was second only to the United States in the contribution it made to the UN effort in Korea. 87,000 British troops took part in the Korean conflict, and over 1,000 British servicemen lost their lives
Jack D. Walker. "A Brief Account of the Korean War". Information. Korean War Veterans Association. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
Other countries to furnish combat units, with their peak strength, were: Australia (2,282), Belgium/Luxembourg (944), Canada (6,146), Colombia (1,068), Ethiopia (1,271), France (1,119), Greece (1,263), Netherlands (819), New Zealand (1,389), Philippines (1,496), Republic of South Africa (826), Thailand (1,294), Turkey (5,455), and the United Kingdom (Great Britain 14,198).
Peak Canadian Army strength in Korea was 8,123 all ranks.
NKPA strength peaked in October 1952 at 266,600 men in eighteen divisions and six independent brigades.
Soviet involvement in the Korean War was on a large scale. During the war, 72,000 Soviet troops (among them 5,000 pilots) served along the Yalu River in Manchuria. At least 12 air divisions rotated through. A peak strength of 26,000 men was reached in 1952.
This series has records for 4,714 U.S. military officers and soldiers who were prisoners of war (POWs) during the Korean War and therefore considered casualties.
In Brampton, Ontario, there is a 60-metre long "Memorial Wall" of polished granite, containing individual bronze plaques which commemorate the 516 Canadian soldiers who died during the Korean War.
"Canada Remembers the Korean War". Veterans Affairs Canada. Government of Canada. 1 March 2013. Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
The names of 516 Canadians who died in service during the conflict are inscribed in the Korean War Book of Remembrance located in the Peace Tower in Ottawa.
Canada lost 516 military personnel during the Korean War and 1,042 more were wounded.
"Canadians in the Korean War". kvacanada.com. Korean Veterans Association of Canada Inc. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
Canada's casualties totalled 1,558 including 516 who died.
"2013 declared year of Korean war veteran". MSN News. The Canadian Press. 8 January 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
The 1,558 Canadian casualties in the three-year conflict included 516 people who died.
Not one of the 33 Canadian PoWs imprisoned in North Korea signed the petitions.
Philippines: KIA 92; WIA 299; MIA/POW 97
New Zealand: KIA 34; WIA 299; MIA/POW 1
(p. 1) In addition 7th Fleet will take station so as to prevent invasion of Formosa and to insure that Formosa not be used as base of operations against Chinese mainland." p. 4: "Seventh Fleet is hereby assigned to operational control CINCFE for employment in following task hereby assigned CINCFE: By naval and air action prevent any attack on Formosa, or any air or sea offensive from Formosa against mainland of China.
... the UNC advised that only 70,000 out of over 170,000 North Korean and Chinese prisoners desired repatriation.
Mark A. Lorell; Hugh P. Levaux (1998). The Cutting Edge: A Half Century of Fighter Aircraft R&D. Rand Corporation. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-8330-2595-1.
Craig C. Hannah (2002). Striving for Air Superiority: The Tactical Air Command in Vietnam. Texas A&M University Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-1-58544-146-4.
This tragedy was the result of a misguided strategy of self-reliance that only served to increase the country's vulnerability to both economic and natural shocks ... The state's culpability in this vast misery elevates the North Korean famine to a crime against humanity