The Korean War (25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953) was a war between North and South Korea, in which South was supported by United Nations force led by the United States of America, and North was assisted by China and Soviet Union. The war has begun from the division of Korea after World War II and was conditioned by international tensions of the Cold War.
The Korean War began when near 75,000 North Korean People’s Army’s soldiers crossed the 38th parallel, the border between pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south and the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north. This invasion was the first military action of the Cold War.
By July 1950 American troops had entered the war on South Korea’s side. After first two months of the conflict South Korean forces were forced back to the Pusan Perimeter and were in desperate situation. In September 1950 after the UN counter-offensive was launched at Inchon, many of the North Korean attackers were cut off and forced back to the border with China.
In October 1950 the american troops crossed the boundary and moved north toward the Yalu River, which was the border between North Korea and China. In response, Chinese forces crossed the Yalu and entered the war. Chinese intervention caused a retreat of UN forces, and this continued until middle of 1951.
The last two years of conflict became a war of exhaustion. Korean war reached a stalemate. The fighting continued along the 38th parallel. In July 1951 peace talks at Panmunjom have started. North and South Korea were willing to accept a ceasefire and maintenance of the 38th parallel boundary.
After two years of negotiations, the armistice was signed on July 27, 1953. The agreement created 2-mile-wide Korean Demilitarized Zone, that still exists today, to separate North and South Korea, and allowed the return of prisoners. The new boundary near the 38th parallel gave South Korea an extra 1,500 square miles of territory.
The Korean War was relatively short but exceptionally bloody. Nearly 5 million people died. More than half of them were civilians. About 10 percent of Korea’s prewar population was lost. Approximate statistics on casualties (according to Encyclopedia Britannica):
- South Korea has lost near 217,000 military and 1,000,000 civilian people;
- North Korea – 406,000 military and 600,000 civilian;
- China – 600,000 military;
- Almost 40,000 Americans died in action in Korea, and more than 100,000 were wounded.