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Easy and Simple History: The Korean War

The Korean War, Key Points You Need to Know

Do you know about the Korean War? Maybe you're unfamiliar with the phrase "Korean War." Or you might overhear that your buddy's grandpa was a veteran of the Korean War.

The Korean War is one of the most misunderstood wars in history. learning about the Korean War will provide you with a deeper grasp of Korean culture and global affairs in the fight for peace.

We'll give you a very simple and to-the-point summary of the Korean War.
👉🏻Let's start now. Easy and Simple History: The Korean War

What is the Korean War?

The Korean War was a disastrous war between North and South Korea from 1950 to 1953 as a result of ideological and political conflicts on the Korean Peninsula.

The above one-sentence is too simple to comprehend the Korean War. As a result, I have answers to the following 6 key questions about the Korean War ready for you. These brief 6 answers will undoubtedly broaden your understanding of Korean history while also broadening your world-historical viewpoint.

Q1: When did the Korean War take place?

The Korean War took place from 1950 to 1953. 

It began on June 25th, 1950, when North Korea invaded the South and ended on July 27th, 1953 by agreeing on a truce. 

A map of the Korean War produced by the American military magazine Pacific Stars and Stripes

Map of the war by PACIFIC STARS AND STRIPES, National Folk Museum of Korea, CC BY 

Q2: Who was involved in the Korean War? 

Democracy Side: U.S, and UN forces + South Korea
North Korea
+ Soviet Union and China: Communist Side

The Korean War was a conflict between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea), supported by China and the Soviet Union, and the Republic of Korea (ROK, South Korea), supported by the United States and the UN.

A list of 16 UN forces that participated in the Korean War for South Korea:
USA, Canada, Colombia, Belgium, Luxembourg, Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, France, UK, Netherlands, Turkey, Greece, South Africa, Ethiopia

the world map with flags and locations of 16 UN forces, participated in the Korean War for South Korea

Korean War UN Force 16 Countries Map by National Archives of Korea, CC BY NC ND

As one of the Koreans, thank you so much for your service! Your dedication and sacrifice mean so much. Praying for your safety and wellbeing! Koreans always remember and appreciate your sacrifice. 🙏🏻

Q3: What caused the Korean War?

The Korean War broke out when North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25th, 1950, in an attempt to reunify the Korean peninsula by force.

The roots of the Korean War can be traced back to the end of World War II. At the Potsdam Conference in 1945, US President Harry S. Truman, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill agreed to temporarily split Korea along the 38th parallel for ease of postwar management.

 korea divided nation 1947 U.S. Department of Defense Education Data Armed Forces Talk 205 page5

1947 Armed Forces Talk 205 by US Department of the Army, National Archives of Korea, CC BY NC ND

After WWII, the US and the Soviet Union were locked in a struggle for global power known as the Cold War. This led to mutual mistrust and suspicion, which intensified after the Soviets developed their own atomic bomb in 1949.

North Korea, which is north of the 38th parallel, was established as a communist country under Soviet influence. North Korea rapidly evolved into a communist state and a one-party dictatorship with Chairman Kim Il-sung at the helm.

Kim Il-sung's North Korean regime invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, intending to integrate the whole Korean Peninsula by force to form a communist unified state.

Q4: Who won the Korean War?

There was no clear winner in the war. Just, it has remained in a state of ceasefire until now, for over 70 years.

The Korean Peninsula is still technically in a state of war because no agreement to formally end the Korean War was ever signed. Korea is still a quiet battlefield of the Cold War.

North Korea is sometimes referred to as a powder keg. Because the Korean War is still on a shaky cease-fire.

An armistice agreement was reached on July 27th, 1953, and a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ, a similar location to the 38th parallel) was established to separate North and South Korea.

map of Korea showing difference 38th parallel before the Korean War with DMZ truce line after war

38th line and Nowadays by NordNordWest FriedC Mnmazur, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY SA

Q5: Why is the Korean War not over?

Because Korea's geopolitical position is crucial to other nations.

The reduction of tensions on the Korean Peninsula would be welcomed by everyone, and world peace would benefit immensely. But you might be wondering, 'why won't neighboring states agree to a declaration ending the Korean War?' Because the Korean Peninsula is a very strategic military location for several countries.

In terms of military operations, Korea is located at the doorway of Russia (former the Soviet Union) and mainland China. South Korea plays an important geopolitical role for the United States in terms of containing China and Russia. North Korea is a beneficial buffer for both China and Russia since it prevents the United States from reaching them. Those countries calculate sensitively to their own interests in the relationship between North and South Korea.

Neighbors calculate that tensions between North and South Korea will be better for them politically. As a result, the agreement to end the Korean War has been delayed with a lukewarm response.

It can be said that the outbreak of the Korean War and the reason why it can't end have very similar causes.

South Korea's Solution: Peaceful Declaration of the End to the Korean War

2018 Pyongyang Joint Declaration Photo of South Korea President Moon Jae-in and North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un

2018 Inter-Korean Summit Pyongyang by Republic of Korea Office of the President, CC BY NC ND

South Korea is attempting to go beyond the truce and declare an end to the Korean War. Despite significant progress in the Pyongyang Joint Declaration on September 19, 2018, an end-of-war declaration was not achieved owing to non-cooperation from neighboring nations. That's too sad.

The declaration of an end to the Korean War is meant to inform the rest of the world that the war has ended. And it will be a crucial step for North and South Korea to join together with other nations as peaceful and equal members of the global community. South Korea believes this way is the most peaceful way to coexist with both Korea. 

Q6: What were the consequences of the Korean War?

The Korean War was a signal of the Cold War. The Korean War had a tremendous impact on North and South Korea, as well as the United States and the Soviet Union, causing significant damage. As a result, the conflict had a big influence on worldwide politics because it heightened tensions between the US and USSR.

The Korean War inflicted heavy casualties and devastated more than a quarter of the Korean Peninsula. This war resulted in the death of over 2 million people, including soldiers and civilians. It also caused great damage and destruction to infrastructure, leading to widespread economic hardship. 

Pulitzer Prize-winning photo taken on December 4, 1950 by photographer Max Desfor during the Korean War

1950 Flight of refugees across wrecked bridge by Max Desfor, CC BY NC AC

According to the 2014 report "The Korean War in Statistics" by the Military Compilation Research Institute of the Korean Ministry of National Defense,

772,608 South Korean and UN soldiers personnel were wounded and killed in the Korean War.

  • SK: 137,899 killed + 450,742 wounded + 32,838 missing or captured = 621,479
  • UN: 37,902 killed + 103,460 wounded + 9,767 missing or captured = 151,129

Civilian casualties and damage were enormous during the Korean War. (South Korea Side)

  • Refugees: about 6.5 million = About 1/ 3 of South Korea's total population in 1951
  • About 1 million civilian casualties(killed, slaughter, injury, kidnapping) of which about 250,000 died


"The Forgotten War" must not be forgotten

The Korean War took place between two big historical events, World War II and the Vietnam War. As a result, it was largely neglected from people's memory, thus it has come to be known as "the Forgotten War."

However, the war left a deep scar on the Korean peninsula, and its effects are still felt today. The division of Korea remains one of the most intractable problems in international relations, and the legacy of the war continues to influence global politics.

'A Nation That Forgets It's Past Has No Future' - Winston Churchill.

Love Peace! Stop War!! 

Violence is simple, but maintaining peace is admirable. Violence is considerably easier than keeping the peace. As a result, we may easily be tempted to resort to violence. There's power in peacefulness. We should keep in mind, learn from our mistakes, and don't make them again. 

Even in now 21st century, when we may explore Mars and the Moon, many regions of the world are still plagued by civil conflicts and war. Only ruins and more bloodshed follow the war.


peace hope no war in Ukraine, Korea and all over the world

We hope that this article has helped you understand the key points of the Korean War. Understanding the history of the Korean War is an important step in understanding the current situation on the Korean peninsula.

Thank you for reading :) ✌🏻Peace ☮ 🕊

Shin Chang-geun

I love Korea, I love people who love Korea. I want to talk to people who love Korea, share their passion for Korea, and give them the information they need.

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