Korean War

Encyclopedia Article


A conflict that occurred in the 1950s between the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) in East Asia. After the conclusion of World War II and the Japanese were ousted from Korea, the Korean peninsula was split into a northern half occupied by the former Soviet Union (USSR) and a southern half occupied by the United States of America. It was initially intended for the two halves to become unified; however, the escalation of the Cold War prevented unification, and each half developed its own government. The north developed under communist activist Kim Il-Sung, while the south became anti-communist under Syngman Rhee. With the backing of the USSR, in 1950 Kim Il Sung declared himself the ruler over the entire Korean Peninsula, and this was the antecedent of the Korean War.

The Korean War lasted from June 1950 to July 1953 and resulted in over 3 million casualties. During the conflict, the south was supported by the United Nations, including a large U.S. presence, while the north was assisted by communist China and the U.S.S.R. Fourteen other governments also sent forces to Korea throughout the duration of the conflict. The war ended with an agreement that the area below the 38th parallel would be governed by South Korea.

Photo Credit: 

"With her brother on her back a war weary Korean girl tiredly trudges by a stalled tank, at Haengju, Korea, June 9, 1951" by Maj. R.V. Spencer, UAF. (Navy) is licensed under CC BY-NC.