Who was responsible for the outbreak of the
war in Korea?
As a result of a diplomatic agreement reached
near the end of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union took
possession of Korea in 1945, with the 38th parallel dividing the Soviet zone
in the north from the American zone in the south. The United Nations planned
for nationwide elections to set up a new government, but the elections were
never held. The U.S. pressed Moscow for talks on Korea as early as
29 August 1947, but nothing happened as relations between the Americans and
Russians deteriorated through the course of that
Although the Soviets withdrew from North Korea
in 1948, the U.S. postponed its departure from South Korea, fearing a
pro-peasant, pro-communist takeover. In 1948, a soviet-style government emerged
in the north, while the United States recognized the Republic of Korea in
the south. By mid-1949, the United States had finally removed the bulk
of its troops.
On 25 June1950, the North Korean army crossed
the 38th parallel and attacked South Korea. At an emergency meeting of the
UN Security Council, the members demanded the immediate withdrawal of the
North Korean troops and called upon U N members to furnish appropriate assistance
to South Korea. The United States, which felt a special responsibility toward
the country, quickly dispatched air and ground forces. A U N command took
charge, and, for the first time in recent history, an organized international
force fought aggression (Ninety percent of the troops were either American
or South Korean.). The UN could take such decisive action because the
Soviet representative to the Security Council had been boycotting meetings
(He had walked out 10 January 1950.) over the refusal of the UN to seat a
new representative from communist China; thus, the Soviet representative
was not present to exercise a
After long negotiations a truce (with Polish
Czech, Swiss, Swedish and Indian monitors) went into effect in July of 1953,
recognizing the fact that Korea remained divided along the 38th parallel.
By the war's end, the U.S. had sent over a quarter of a million men halfway
around the world. Total casualties in the conflict numbered approximately
one million dead (U.S. combat deaths 33,629; 20,617 other deaths; and 103,284
- 16 February 1948, North Korea
proclaimed a People's Democratic Republic.
- 15 August 1948, Independent Republic
of Korea in south proclaimed following UN-supervised elections.
- 9 September 1948, North Korea
claimed sovereignty over South.
- 21 October 1948, General Douglas
MacArthur arrived in South Korea for inspection.
- 25 June 1950, North Korean troops
crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea.
- 26 June 1950, President Harry
Truman pledged U.S. military aid.
- 27 June 1950, the United Nations
voted to provide direct assistance to South Korea.
- 1 July 1950, U.S. troops began
to arrive (French and British soon after).
- 16 September 1950, U.S. troops
landed at Inchon not far from Seoul. Macarthur rapidly cleared south
and crossed 38th parallel on 1 October and advanced north.
- 26 October 1950, Pyongyang, capital
of North Korea, captured.
- 26 November 1950, when U.N. troops
approached the Chinese border, China attacked and eventually captured Seoul
(4 January 1951).
- 14 March 1951, U.N. forces again
recaptured Seoul. General Macarthur managed to stabilized a defensive
line in the south.
- 11 April 1951, President Truman
dismissed Macarthur as UN commander in Korea.
- 23 November 1951, demarcation
line agreed to, but bombardments, shelling and air war continued (10 July
1950 preliminary talks on cease fire had begun in Kaesong.).
- 26-27 July 1953, cease fire finally
signed at Panmunjon. About 1 million had died.
See the expanded timeline, Significant Events of the Korean War, created by Kelton Adams-Elkins, Alex English, and Christopher Belcher, former students.
Read Secretary of State Dean Acheson's account
of his speech
describing the U.S. "defense perimeter" in 1950 in which he neglected
to mention Korea and then read President Truman's announcement of his
decision to send troops to Korea. The UN Resolution
of 27 June 1950 on Korea, which promised immediate aid is available,
as are the Korean
Armistice Agreement and Maps of the Korean War (part of the Korean War Project,
which includes history, maps, memorials, recollections and POW/MIA information).
There is a U.S. Army site about Combat Actions in Korea and a Korean War military history site.
The Korean War: The US and Soviet Union in Korea is an ok overview.
The 50th Anniversary of the Korean
War site has a timeline and memoirs of modest detail. FAQ - Korean War provides frequently asked questions about the Korean War, campaign stories
from a Chinese perspective and factual descriptions of political aspects
unavailable from US sources. The
Korean War: a Fresh Perspective is ok.
There are a series of articles about Korea in
the Cold War International History Project (CWIHP). Most of the Korean War material is included in there, but it is very confusing to use.
Some other suggested site:
Excellent introductions to recent Korean history
are C. J. Eckert, Korea Old and New: A History (1990), Bruce Cumings, The Two Koreas (1984) and David Rees, A Short History of Modern
Korea (1988). See also, David Steinberg, The Republic of
Korea: Economic Transformation and Social Change (1989), Paul Kuznets, Economic Growth and Structure in the Republic of Korea (1977) and
Dennis McNamara, The Colonial Origins of Korean Enterprise 1910-1945 (1990).
On the Korean War, see: Sergei Goncharov,
John Lewis, Xue Litai, Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao and the Korean
War (1993); Max Hastings, The Korean War (1988); P. Lowe, The
Origins of the Korean War (1986); Clay Blair, The Forgotten War:
America in Korea (?); and Callum MacDonald, Korea, the War before