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The Korean War

Between North Korea and South Korea, the Korean War, often known by other names, lasted from 1950 to 1953. At least 2.5 million people died in the battle between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). In June 1950, North Korea invaded the South with assistance from and advice from the Soviet Union, escalating the conflict to a global scale. The People's Republic of China sided with South Korea in the conflict, while the United Nations, led by the United States, took a side for North Korea. The conflict concluded in July 1953 with Korea still split into two hostile states after more than a million combat fatalities on both sides.

Background of the Conflict

During the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895), Imperial Japan significantly reduced China's influence over Korea and established a transient Korean Empire. After winning the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05) and defeating Imperial Russia, Japan made the Korean Empire its protectorate before annexing it in 1910 with the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty. From 1910 to 1945, Japan directly ruled over the remnants of the Korean Empire.

During this time, a large number of Korean nationalists abandoned their homeland. In Nationalist China in 1919, the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea was established. It failed to gain international acclaim, failed to bring nationalist organisations together, and had a tense relationship with Syngman Rhee, its founding president who was resident in the US. Beginning in 1919, communists in Korea took the lead in both internal and exterior conflict with the Japanese.

Against the Japanese forces, which had already conquered sections of China, the Nationalist National Revolutionary Army and the communist People's Liberation Army (PLA) in China assisted in organising Korean refugees. Yi Pom-Sok headed the Nationalist-backed Korean forces that participated in the Burma Campaign. In Korea and Manchuria, the communists, including Kim Il-sung, fought the Japanese.

China, the United Kingdom, and the United States all agreed that Korea would eventually achieve freedom and independence during the Cairo Conference in November 1943.

The Soviet Union made a commitment to join its allies in the Pacific War three months after winning the war in Europe at the Tehran Conference in November 1943. in August 1945, the USSR declared war on Japan and three months later invaded Manchuria. The Red Army started to occupy the north of Korea within a week. The 38th Parallel was proposed by the US as the line to partition Korea into Soviet and US occupation zones In response to the Japanese surrender on August 15. Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, continued to pursue his cooperative approach to the war, and on August 16, the Red Army stopped at the 38th Parallel for three weeks in anticipation of the arrival of US forces in the south.

According to the Moscow Conference agreement, a US-Soviet Union Joint Commission began managing Korea in December 1945 with the intention of granting independence after a five-year trusteeship.

The Elections

The US government chose to hold elections under UN supervision in order to establish an independent Korea, citing the Joint Commission's incapacity to make headway. Many South Korean leaders boycotted it, and the Soviet authorities refused to cooperate on the grounds that it would not be fair.

A communist administration headed by Kim Il-sung was established in the Soviet Korean Zone of Occupation after general elections were held independently in both zones. In the South Korean government that followed, Syngman Rhee was elected as president. In 1948, the Soviet Union withdrew its troops from Korea, and in 1949, the US withdrew its troops as well.

The Chinese civil war and the Korean Militarization

After the war with Japan ended, the Communists and Nationalists in China started fighting again in earnest. The North Korean government supported the Communists as they fought for control of Manchuria. In the case of a conflict with South Korea, China pledged to aid North Korea. The PRC leadership launched a foreign policy that actively supported Communist revolutions throughout regions on China's periphery as a response and to improve China's standing among the global Communist movements.

In 1949, Kim Il-sung thought that a North Korean invasion would be welcomed by the majority of South Koreans since widespread uprisings had weakened the South Korean military.

Stalin thought the strategic situation had changed by the spring of 1950: Mao Zedong's PLA troops had achieved a decisive victory in China, US forces had left Korea, and the Soviet Union had dropped its first nuclear bomb, ending the US atomic monopoly.

After realizing that the US was not being serious about South Korea, Stalin adopted a more aggressive strategy in Asia and, in response to these events, promised China economic and military assistance through the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship.

Provocations and the War

Stalin permitted Kim to assault the South Korean government in April 1950, provided that Mao agreed to dispatch reinforcements if necessary. The South Korean army was ill-equipped for battle and had not anticipated a war.

The North Korean troops crossed the 38th Parallel in June 1950 while being protected by artillery fire. The important Ongjin Peninsula in the west is where the fighting started. After examining the issue, the Security Council issued Resolution 83 urging its members to offer the Republic of Korea military support. The US authorised its military to aid South Korea.

Later, US President Truman said he thought repelling the invasion was crucial to achieving the US objective of containing communism globally as stated in the National Security Council Report.


Peace Rounds and current developments

The Korean Armistice Agreement was signed in 1953 by the KPA (Korean People's Army of North Korea), the PVA (People's Volunteer Army of China), and the UN Command. Syngman Rhee, the president of South Korea, declined to ratify the deal. Despite the absence of a peace treaty, this is the point at which the conflict is regarded as over.

Following a fresh round of UN sanctions, North Korea declared the armistice null and void and declared war on South Korea in March 2013.

  • It was discovered in 2016 that North Korea has spoken to the US about holding formal peace talks to formally end the conflict. Despite the White House's support for in-camera negotiations for peace, North Korea's refusal to consider nuclear disarmament as a requirement of the treaty led to its rejection.

  • On 27 April 2018, it was announced that North Korea and South Korea agreed to talks to end the ongoing 65-year conflict.

  • In an address to the United Nations General Assembly in 2021, South Korean President Moon Jae-In repeated his proposal for a formal end to the Korean War.


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