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Top Essentials to Know About the Korean War

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The Korean War occurred between 1950 and 1953 between North Korea, China, and American-led United Nations forces. Here are six essentials to know about the Korean War.

1. The Thirty-Eighth Parallel

The thirty-eighth parallel was the line of latitude that separated the northern and southern portions of the Korean peninsula. After World War II, Stalin and the Soviet government created a sphere of influence in the north. On the other hand, America backed Syngman Rhee in the South. This would eventually lead to conflict when in June, 1950, North Korea attacked the South leading to President Harry Truman sending troops in to protect South Korea.

2. Inchon Invasion

General Douglas MacArthur commanded UN forces as they launched an amphibious assault codenamed Operation Chromite at Inchon. Inchon was located near Seoul which had been taken by North Korea during the first months of the War. They were able to push the communist forces back north of the thirty-eighth parallel. They continued over the border into North Korea and were able to defeat the enemy forces.

3. The Yalu River Disaster

The US Army led by General MacArthur continued to move their invasion further and further into North Korea towards the Chinese border at the Yalu River. As they neared the river, troops from China moved into North Korea and drove the US Army back south below the thirty-eighth parallel. At this point, General Matthew Ridgway was the driving forced that stopped the Chinese and regained the territory to the thirty-eighth parallel.

4. Stalemate

Once the American forces had regained the territory below the thirty-eighth parallel from the Chinese, the two armies settled into a prolonged stalemate. They continued to fight for two years before an official ceasefire occurred.

5. General MacArthur Gets Fired

Once America had regained the territory from the Chinese, President Harry Truman decided to make peace to avoid continued fighting. However, on his own General MacArthur disagreed with the president and demanded that China surrender or be invaded. He went to the press and spoke out against the president. His actions caused the peace negotiations to stall and caused war to continue for approximately two more years. Because of this, President Truman fired General MacArthur on April 13, 1951. As the president said, "...the cause of world peace is more important than any individual."

6. End of the Korean War

The Korean War did not officially end until President Dwight Eisenhower signed an armistice on July 27, 1953. Sadly, the boundaries of North and South Korea ended up being the same as before the war despite the huge loss of life on both sides. Over 54,000 Americans died and well over 1 million Korean and Chinese died. However, the war did directly lead to a massive military buildup per a secret document NSC-68 that greatly increased defense spending. The point of this order was the ability to continue to wage the quite expensive Cold War.

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