1950 – 1953
The Korean War lasted from June of 1950 to July of 1953. It was a war fought between North and South Korea. North Korea was supported by China and the Soviet Union, whereas South Korea was backed by the United Nations, in which the United States of America contributed the majority of the military force. The start of the Korean war can be attributed to Japanese colonization and the division of the Korean peninsula in the aftermath of World War II. Furthermore, the rise of communism and global tensions of the cold war escalated the conflict between the two states. The United Nations supported the South with the idea of freeing the North from communists, while the Soviet Union and China sought to further the influence of communism.
Prior to the end of World War II, Korea was under Japanese imperial rule. Towards the end of World War II, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan in order to push Japan into surrendering. Soviet troops occupied the northern half of Korea, above the 38th parallel, and U.S. troops occupied the southern half below the 38th parallel. This led to the surrender of Japan, as well as the division of the Korean Peninsula into northern and southern states. Both the North and the South had established separate governments, each declaring to be the legitimate government over all of Korea. Both governments viewed the border as temporary. Thus war broke out on June 25, 1950 when North Korean forces invaded South Korea, with the backing of Soviet and Chinese troops. The United Nations Security Council called for North Korea’s immediate ceasefire, however, the United Nations was forced to dispatch troops in response to North Korea’s refusal to ceasefire. The UN troops was overwhelmingly composed of U.S. military personnel, with the remaining ten percent being support from twenty other countries.
During the first year of the war, South Korean forces were nearly defeated after the first two months. However, they turned the tables with a counter attack in Inchon. As the war waged on, both sides seemed to be equal in military strength, thus the war became a war of attrition during its last two years.
The war ended on July 27, 1953 with neither side claiming victory. Instead, an armistice that created the Korean Demilitarized Zone was signed. To this day, the North and South Koreas are separated by this demilitarized zone. Over decades, North Korea has remained a communist nation, while South Korea’s booming capitalistic economy and democratic government has flourished. Presently, there are still many continued efforts – politically and socially – to unite the two nations.