The Korean War began on 25th of June 1950 and ended on 27th of July 1953. It lasted 3 years and it was one of the most devastated conflicts since World War II.
At the end of the Second World War, Korea – which had formerly been occupied by the Japanese – was divided along the 38th Parallel. This division resulted in the formation of two countries: communist North Korea (supported by the Soviets) and South Korea (supported by the United States). The establishment of these 2 states was also part of the geopolitical tensions of the Cold War. Both governments of the two new Korean states claimed to be the sole legitimate government of all of Korea, and neither accepted the border as permanent.
The Korean People’s Army (KPA) was established in North Korea in February 1948, from Korean communist guerrillas who had previously served with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, but were ‘advised’ by Soviet personnel.
The Korean War began on June 25 1950, when the KPA (North Korea) invaded South Korea. The first rapidly advanced southwards trapping South Korean and American troops in a small perimeter around the port of Pusan.
The United Nations (rallied by the United States) was quick to respond and immediately encouraged its members to support the South. Many countries sent in troops, including the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Greece. Twenty-one countries of the United Nations eventually contributed to the UN force, with the United States providing around 90% of the military personnel.
Communist China joined North Korea in the war in November 1950, unleashing a massive Chinese ground attack against American forces. The Soviet Union also covertly supported North Korea. The surprise Chinese intervention triggered a retreat of UN forces and Chinese forces were in South Korea by late December.
In these and subsequent battles, Seoul (capital of South Korea) was captured several times, and communist forces were pushed back to positions around the 38th parallel, close to where the war started. After this the front stabilized and the last two years of fighting became a war of attrition, the war in the air, however, was never a stalemate. North Korea was subject to a massive U.S. bombing campaign.
The fighting ended on 27 July 1953, when the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to separate North and South Korea, and allowed the return of prisoners. However, no peace treaty was ever signed, and the two Koreas are technically still at war, engaged in a frozen conflict.
This was the first hot war of the Cold War, and in it the United States demonstrated its continued commitment to containment (the idea that the US would ultimately defeat communism by containing its spread).
The Korean War was among the most destructive conflicts of the modern era, with approximately 3 million war fatalities. Many in the U.S. refer Korean War as “the Forgotten War”, for the lack of attention it received compared to more well-known conflicts like World War I and II and the Vietnam War.
Sources: www.iwm.org.uk, www.khanacademy.org, en.wikipedia.org, www.history.com