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The Korean War

Timelines of the Korean War, from the post-World War II chaos of 1945 through the Armistice and POW exchanges of 1953.

Facts on the Korean War | A Quick Guide
A quick guide to facts on the Korean War, including information on when it happened, who was involved, who won the Korean War, and how many people died?

Background to Korean War
Korea had been a Japanese colony since the late nineteenth century. After Japan's defeat in World War II, the issue of control over Korea was never properly resolved. As a result, different factions within both northern and southern Korea began to vie for power, with Communists taking control in the Russian-occupied North, and a democracy of...

North Korea's Ground Assault Begins
Encouraged by the U.S.'s lacksadaisical approach to Korean affairs, and supported by the Soviet Union and newly-Communist China, North Korea invades South Korea in a bid to unify the country under Communist rule.

Lightning-Quick North Korean Advances
With astonishing speed, North Korean forces overran South Korean and U.S. positions, and swept south down the peninsula. Within three weeks of its establishment, the U.S. command center at Taejon was captured by the North Koreans.

"Stand or Die" -- South Korea and the UN Hold Busan
Just about one month after the North Korean invasion, the South Korean and United Nations forces found themselves dug in at the Busan Perimeter. With their backs to the sea, the southern forces desperately held their ground against the North Korean army. Meanwhile, desperate refugees flooded south and east in front of the invaders.

North Korean Advance Grinds to Bloody Halt
With their backs to the sea, the UN forces fought desperate see-saw battles with the North Korean Army all around the Busan Perimeter throughout August of 1950. The tide begins to turn at the Invasion of Incheon, in which UN troops made an amphibious assault on the east coast near Seoul, well behind the battle front.

UN Forces Push Back
The fortunes of war reverse radically, with UN forces sweeping the North Koreans out of South Korea, and move across the 38th Parallel toward Pyongyang.

China Stirs as UN Takes Most of North Korea
With increased UN troop levels and battle-hardened South Korean fighters, the southern forces surged triumphantly into North Korea, sweeping toward the Korea/China border at the Yalu River. Shocked by this sudden change in the war's momentum, China warned the UN that it would enter the war rather than see North Korea overrun by capitalist troops.

China Comes to North Korea's Rescue
Mao's Communist forces had won the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Freed from fighting the Chinese Nationalist Army, many experienced Chinese soldiers volunteered - or were ordered - to join the Chinese Communist Forces army to defend their fellows in North Korea. China did not use the People's Liberation Army, because it did not want to formally declare war on the United States and the UN.

Hard Fighting, and General MacArthur is Ousted
Early 1951 saw grinding and brutal warfare in Korea, with airstrikes, naval bombardment, and all-out ground assaults. Possession of Seoul changed hands again. The failure of UN forces to achieve victory when it seemed near, plus disagreements over tactics, lead U.S. President Harry Truman to relieve General Douglas MacArthur of his command in Korea in April.

Bloody Battles and Truce Talks
Against a background of bloody, desperate trench warfare, on-again off-again peace talks took place at the village of Kaesong.

Death and Destruction
Bloody riots at the UN's prison camp on Koje-do (Koje Island), enormous bombing sorties against Pyongyang, and battles fought inch-by-inch up the wooded hills and ridges of Korea: the last full year of the Korean War was exceptionally grim.

Final Battles and Armistice
Heavy fighting continued throughout the first half of 1953, until the Armistice was suddenly signed on July 27th. While the U.S. signed the peace deal with North Korea and China, North and South Korea have never officially signed any peace pact. Technically, the Korean War is still going on today.

Timeline of the Korean War
At the close of World War II, the victorious Allied Powers did not know what to do with the Korean Peninsula. Korea had been a Japanese colony since the late nineteenth century, so westerners thought the country incapable of self-rule. The Korean people, however, were eager to re-establish an independent nation of Korea.

Korean War Photo Gallery
Photo gallery of the Korean War, 1950-1953.

The Invasion of Incheon | Korean War
Description of the Invasion of Incheon in 1950, a turning point in the Korean War.

The Pusan Perimeter and Invasion of Incheon Map
Map of the Pusan Perimeter from the Korean War, with Incheon highlighted. The Invasion of Incheon allowed South Korean forces to break out of the Pusan Perimeter in September 1950.

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