The Korean War began in June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea. The country was divided after the Second World War. The north was supported by China and the south by the United States.
The Korean War began when the leader of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, wanted to regain control of the entire country. The two sections of the country had been divided by the 38th parallel of latitude after the Second World War.
The North Korean army numbered about 75,000 soldiers and they stormed the south.
Fearing that this could be an attempt at a communist takeover of the world, the United States came to assist the South Koreans against the attack. In November 1950, China came to the aid of North Korea with a massive ground attack on the American soldiers.
The Years of the War
As the war went on, so did the control of territories back and forth. North Korea held a great portion of South Korea when a United States general, Douglas MacArthur, ordered a strong counter-attack on the North and pushed its army back across the 38th parallel border.
The American and United Nations forces then moved into the north before being driven back to the south by thousands of Chinese soldiers. In the spring of 1951, American forces once again drove into North Korea. This back-and-forth fighting continued over the next two years with no resolution.
The End of the War
Peace talks began about a year after the war started, but took two years for both sides to come to terms. The peace talks began at Panmunjom in July 1951, initiated by United States President Harry Truman and his military commanders. However, even though the talks had started the war continued to be fought.
The biggest difficulty with the negotiations came down to the subject of prisoners of war. The North Koreans and Chinese voted to have the prisoners returned to their own countries, but the United States voted against it. They finally agreed to allow prisoners to stay on the side of the border that they chose.
An armistice was signed by both sides on July 27, 1953. On top of the agreement allowing prisoners to choose where they wanted to be, it also labeled the war as a stalemate. The border between the north and south was to remain although the south gained about 1,500 square miles. The new border was created and measured two miles wide. It was labeled a demilitarized zone and it still exists today.
Even though the war was short, almost 40,000 Americans were killed and 100,000 were wounded. Nearly five million people were killed during the Korean War. This number included a large number of civilians. In fact, about half of that number were Korean civilians.
President Truman fired General MacArthur during the Korean War for insubordination. The President was trying to prevent war with China, but MacArthur went behind his back and tried to provoke it.
When North Korea drove into the south, the United States was only protecting a small border in the southeast, near Budan.