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1950 - 1953

Korean War

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The Korean War was fought between North Korea and South Korea from 1950 to 1953. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following clashes along the border and rebellions in South Korea. North Korea was supported by China and the Soviet Union while South Korea was supported by the United States and allied countries.


After the first two months of war, South Korean Army (ROKA) and American forces hastily dispatched to Korea were on the point of defeat, retreating to a small area behind a defensive line known as the Pusan Perimeter. In September 1950, a risky amphibious UN counteroffensive was launched at Incheon, cutting off KPA troops and supply lines in South Korea. Those who escaped envelopment and capture were forced back north. UN forces invaded North Korea in October 1950 and moved rapidly towards the Yalu River—the border with China—but on 19 October 1950, Chinese forces of the People's Volunteer Army (PVA) crossed the Yalu and entered the war. The UN retreated from North Korea after the First Phase Offensive and the Second Phase Offensive. Chinese forces were in South Korea by late December.


In these and subsequent battles, Seoul was captured four times, and communist forces were pushed back to positions around the 38th parallel, close to where the war had started. After this, the front stabilized, and the last two years were a war of attrition. The war in the air, however, was never a stalemate. North Korea was subject to a massive US bombing campaign. Jet-powered fighters confronted each other in air-to-air combat for the first time in history, and Soviet pilots covertly flew in defense of their communist allies.


The fighting ended on 27 July 1953 when the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to separate North and South Korea, and allowed the return of prisoners. However, no peace treaty was ever signed, and the two Koreas are technically still at war, engaged in a frozen conflict.


The Korean War was among the most destructive conflicts of the modern era, with approximately 3 million war fatalities and a larger proportional civilian death toll than World War II or the Vietnam War. It incurred the destruction of virtually all of Korea's major cities, thousands of massacres by both sides, including the mass killing of tens of thousands of suspected communists by the South Korean government, and the torture and starvation of prisoners of war by the North Koreans. North Korea became among the most heavily bombed countries in history.


Korean War Timeline




1945 Aug 15

Korea Divided

Korean Peninsula

Korea Divided
American soldiers standing at ease as Japanese flag goes down.
Korea Divided


Japan had ruled the Korean peninsula between 1910 and 1945. When Japan surrendered in August 15, 1945, the 38th parallel was established as the boundary between Soviet and American occupation zones. This parallel divided the Korean peninsula roughly in the middle. In 1948, this parallel became the boundary between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea), both of which claim to be the government of the whole of Korea.


Explaining the choice of the 38th Parallel, US Colonels Dean Rusk observed, "even though it was further north than could be realistically reached by US forces, in the event of Soviet disagreement ... we felt it important to include the capital of Korea in the area of responsibility of American troops". He noted that he was "faced with the scarcity of US forces immediately available, and time and space factors, which would make it difficult to reach very far north, before Soviet troops could enter the area". As Rusk's comments indicate, the US doubted whether the Soviet government would agree to this. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, however, maintained his wartime policy of co-operation, and on 16 August the Red Army halted at the 38th Parallel for three weeks to await the arrival of US forces in the south.


On 7 September 1945, General Douglas MacArthur issued Proclamation No. 1 to the people of Korea, announcing U.S. military control over Korea south of the 38th parallel and establishing English as the official language during military control. MacArthur ended up being in charge of southern Korea from 1945 to 1948 due to the lack of clear orders or initiative from Washington, D.C.


1948 Apr 3 - 1949 May 10

Jeju uprising

Jeju, Jeju-do, South Korea

Jeju uprising
Inmates waiting inline to be interrogated (November, 1948)


Residents of Jeju opposed to the division of Korea had protested and had been on a general strike since 1947 against elections scheduled by the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK) to be held only in the territory controlled by the United States Army Military Government in Korea. The Workers' Party of South Korea (WPSK) and its supporters launched an insurgency in April 1948, attacking the police, and Northwest Youth League members stationed on Jeju mobilized to violently suppress the protests. The First Republic of Korea under President Syngman Rhee escalated the suppression of the uprising from August 1948, declaring martial law in November and beginning an "eradication campaign" against rebel forces in the rural areas of Jeju in March 1949, defeating them within two months. Many rebel veterans and suspected sympathizers were later killed upon the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, and the existence of the Jeju uprising was officially censored and repressed in South Korea for several decades.


The Jeju uprising was notable for its extreme violence; between 14,000 and 30,000 people (10 percent of Jeju's population) were killed, and 40,000 fled to Japan. Atrocities and war crimes were committed by both sides, but historians have noted that the methods used by the South Korean government to suppress protesters and rebels were especially cruel, with violence against civilians by pro-government forces contributing to the Yeosu-Suncheon rebellion in South Jeolla during the conflict.


In 2006, almost 60 years after the Jeju uprising, the South Korean government apologized for its role in the killings and promised reparations. In 2019, the South Korean police and defense ministry apologized for the first time over the massacres.


1948 Aug 15

Republic of Korea

South Korea

Republic of Korea
South Korean citizens protest Allied trusteeship in December 1945


US Lieutenant General John R. Hodge was appointed as military governor. He directly controlled South Korea as head of the United States Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK 1945–48). In December 1945, Korea was administered by a US-Soviet Union Joint Commission, as agreed at the Moscow Conference, with the aim of granting independence after a five-year trusteeship. The idea was not popular among Koreans and riots broke out. To contain them, the USAMGIK banned strikes on 8 December 1945 and outlawed the PRK Revolutionary Government and the PRK People's Committees on 12 December 1945. Following further large-scale civilian unrest, the USAMGIK declared martial law.


Citing the inability of the Joint Commission to make progress, the US government decided to hold an election under United Nations auspices with the aim of creating an independent Korea. The Soviet authorities and the Korean Communists refused to co-operate on the grounds it would not be fair, and many South Korean politicians boycotted it. A general election was held in the South on 10 May 1948. North Korea held parliamentary elections three months later on 25 August.


The resultant South Korean government promulgated a national political constitution on 17 July 1948, and elected Syngman Rhee as President on 20 July 1948. This election is generally considered to have been manipulated by the Rhee regime. The Republic of Korea (South Korea) was established on 15 August 1948. In the Soviet Korean Zone of Occupation, the Soviet Union agreed to the establishment of a communist government led by Kim Il-sung. The Soviet Union withdrew its forces from Korea in 1948, and US troops withdrew in 1949.


1949 Dec 24

Mungyeong massacre

Mungyeong, Gyeongsangbuk-do, S

Mungyeong massacre
South Korean Army


The Mungyeong Massacre was a massacre conducted by 2nd and 3rd platoon, 7th company, 3rd battalion, 25th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division of the South Korean Army on 24 December 1949 of 86 to 88 unarmed citizens in Mungyeong, North Gyeongsang district of South Korea, all of whom were civilians and a majority of whom were children and elderly people. The victims included 32 children. The victims were massacred because they were suspected communist supporters or collaborators. However, the South Korean government blamed the crime on communist guerrillas for decades.


On 26 June 2006, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Korea concluded that the massacre was committed by the South Korean Army. However, a South Korean local court decided that charging the South Korean government with the massacre was barred by statute of limitations, as the five-year prescription ended in December 1954. On 10 February 2009, the South Korean high court also dismissed the victim's family complaint. In June 2011, the Supreme Court of Korea decided that the South Korean government should compensate victims of the inhumane crimes it had committed regardless of the deadline to make the claim.


1950 Apr 1

Stalin and Mao

Moscow, Russia

Stalin and Mao
Andrei Gromyko (in dark military cap) was delegated to guide Kim Il Song (hatless, at left, of official party reviewing troops), the North Korean Premier, during Kim's visit to Moscow.


By 1949, South Korean and US military actions had reduced the active number of indigenous communist guerrillas in the South from 5,000 to 1,000. However, Kim Il-sung believed that widespread uprisings had weakened the South Korean military and that a North Korean invasion would be welcomed by much of the South Korean population. Kim began seeking Stalin's support for an invasion in March 1949, traveling to Moscow to attempt to persuade him. Stalin initially did not think the time was right for a war in Korea. PLA forces were still embroiled in the Chinese Civil War, while US forces remained stationed in South Korea.


By spring 1950, he believed that the strategic situation had changed: PLA forces under Mao Zedong had secured final victory in China, US forces had withdrawn from Korea, and the Soviets had detonated their first nuclear bomb, breaking the US atomic monopoly. As the US had not directly intervened to stop the communist victory in China, Stalin calculated that they would be even less willing to fight in Korea, which had much less strategic significance. The Soviets had also cracked the codes used by the US to communicate with their embassy in Moscow, and reading these dispatches convinced Stalin that Korea did not have the importance to the US that would warrant a nuclear confrontation. Stalin began a more aggressive strategy in Asia based on these developments, including promising economic and military aid to China through the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance. In April 1950, Stalin gave Kim permission to attack the government in the South under the condition that Mao would agree to send reinforcements if needed. For Kim, this was the fulfillment of his goal to unite Korea after its division by foreign powers. Stalin made it clear that Soviet forces would not openly engage in combat, to avoid a direct war with the US.


Kim met with Mao in May 1950. Mao was concerned the US would intervene but agreed to support the North Korean invasion. China desperately needed the economic and military aid promised by the Soviets. However, Mao sent more ethnic Korean PLA veterans to Korea and promised to move an army closer to the Korean border. Once Mao's commitment was secured, preparations for war accelerated.


1950 Jun 25

Korean War starts

Ongjin, South Hwanghae, North

Korean War starts
Korean War starts
Korean War startsKorean War startsKorean War starts


At dawn on Sunday, 25 June 1950, the KPA crossed the 38th Parallel behind artillery fire. The KPA justified its assault with the claim that ROK troops attacked first and that the KPA were aiming to arrest and execute the "bandit traitor Syngman Rhee". Fighting began on the strategic Ongjin Peninsula in the west (Battle of Ongjin). There were initial South Korean claims that the 17th Regiment captured the city of Haeju, and this sequence of events has led some scholars to argue that the South Koreans fired first.


Whoever fired the first shots in Ongjin, within an hour, KPA forces attacked all along the 38th Parallel. The KPA had a combined arms force including tanks supported by heavy artillery. The ROK had no tanks, anti-tank weapons or heavy artillery to stop such an attack. In addition, the South Koreans committed their forces in a piecemeal fashion and these were routed in a few days.


On 27 June, Rhee evacuated from Seoul with some of the government. On 28 June, at 2 am, the ROK blew up the Hangang Bridge across the Han River in an attempt to stop the KPA. The bridge was detonated while 4,000 refugees were crossing it and hundreds were killed. Destroying the bridge also trapped many ROK units north of the Han River. In spite of such desperate measures, Seoul fell that same day during the First Battle of Seoul. A number of South Korean National Assemblymen remained in Seoul when it fell, and forty-eight subsequently pledged allegiance to the North.


1950 Jun 27

Resolution 83

United Nations Headquarters, U

Resolution 83
The United Nations Security Council votes to allow military operations by 59 member nations against North Korea on 27 June 1950.


On 25 June 1950, the United Nations Security Council unanimously condemned the North Korean invasion of South Korea, with UN Security Council Resolution 82. The Soviet Union, a veto-wielding power, had boycotted the Council meetings since January 1950, protesting Taiwan's occupation of China's permanent seat in the UN Security Council. After debating the matter, the Security Council, on 27 June 1950, published Resolution 83 recommending member states provide military assistance to the Republic of Korea. On 27 June President Truman ordered US air and sea forces to help South Korea.


Several US industries were mobilized to supply materials, labor, capital, production facilities, and other services necessary to support the military objectives of the Korean War. President Truman later explained that he believed fighting the invasion was essential to the US goal of the global containment of communism as outlined in the National Security Council Report 68 (NSC 68) (declassified in 1975).


1950 Jun 28

Seoul National University Hospital massacre

Seoul National University Hosp

Seoul National University Hospital massacre


The Seoul National University Hospital massacre was a massacre of 700 to 900 doctors, nurses, inpatient civilians and wounded soldiers by the Korean People's Army (KPA) on 28 June 1950 at the Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul district of South Korea. During the First Battle of Seoul, the KPA wiped out one platoon which guarded Seoul National University Hospital on 28 June 1950. They massacred medical personnel, inpatients and wounded soldiers. The Korean People's Army shot or buried the people alive. The civilian victims alone numbered 900. According to South Korean Ministry of National Defense, the victims included 100 wounded South Korean soldiers.


1950 Jun 28 - 1953

Bombing of North Korea

North Korea

Bombing of North Korea | ©Massachusetts School of Law at Andover


Air forces of the United Nations Command carried out an extensive bombing campaign against North Korea from 1950 to 1953 during the Korean War. It was the first major bombing campaign for the United States Air Force (USAF) since its inception in 1947 from the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). During the campaign, conventional weapons such as explosives, incendiary bombs, and napalm destroyed nearly all of the country's cities and towns, including an estimated 85 percent of its buildings.


A total of 635,000 tons of bombs, including 32,557 tons of napalm, were dropped on Korea. By comparison, the U.S. dropped 1.6 million tons in the European theater and 500,000 tons in the Pacific theater during all of World War II (including 160,000 on Japan). North Korea ranks alongside Cambodia (500,000 tons), Laos (2 million tons), and South Vietnam (4 million tons) as among the most heavily-bombed countries in history.


1950 Jul 1

Bodo League massacre

South Korea

Bodo League massacre
South Korean soldiers walk among bodies of South Korean political prisoners shot near Daejon, South Korea, July 1950. Photo by U.S. Army Major Abbott.[2]


The Bodo League massacre was a massacre and war crime against communists and suspected sympathizers (many of whom were civilians who had no connection with communism or communists) that occurred in the summer of 1950 during the Korean War. Estimates of the death toll vary. Historians and experts on the Korean War estimate that the full total ranges from at least 60,000–110,000 (Kim Dong-choon) to 200,000 (Park Myung-lim).


The massacre was falsely blamed on the communists led by Kim Il-sung by the South Korean government. The South Korean government made efforts to conceal the massacre for four decades. Survivors were forbidden by the government from revealing it, under suspicion of being communist sympathizers; public revelation carried with it the threat of torture and death. During the 1990s and onwards, several corpses were excavated from mass graves, resulting in public awareness of the massacre. Half a century later, the South Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigated what happened in the political violence largely kept hidden from history, unlike the publicized North Korean executions of South Korean right-wingers.


1950 Jul 5

Battle of Osan

Osan, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

Battle of Osan
Task Force Smith arrives in South Korea
Battle of Osan


The Battle of Osan was the first engagement between the United States and North Korea during the Korean War. On July 5, 1950, Task Force Smith, an American task force of 540 infantry supported by an artillery battery, was moved to Osan, south of Seoul, the capital of South Korea, and was ordered to fight as a rearguard to delay the advancing North Korean forces while more US troops arrived to form a stronger defensive line to the south. The task force lacked both anti-tank guns and effective infantry anti-tank weapons and had been equipped with obsolete 2.36-inch (60 mm) rocket launchers and a few 57 mm recoilless rifles. Aside from a limited number of HEAT shells for the unit's 105 mm howitzers, crew-served weapons that could defeat T-34/85 tanks from the Soviet Union had not yet been distributed to the US Army forces in Korea.


A North Korean tank column equipped with ex-Soviet T-34/85 tanks overran the task force in the first encounter and continued its advance south. After the North Korean tank column had breached US lines, the task force opened fire on a force of some 5,000 North Korean infantry that were approaching its position, which held up their advance. North Korean troops eventually flanked and overwhelmed the US positions, and the rest of the task force retreated in disorder.


1950 Jul 21

Drive South

Busan, South Korea

Drive South and Battle of Pusan | ©Kings and Generals
Drive South


By August, the KPA steadily pushed back the ROK and the Eighth United States Army southwards. Facing a veteran and well-led KPA force, and lacking sufficient anti-tank weapons, artillery or armor, the Americans retreated and the KPA advanced down the Korean Peninsula. During their advance, the KPA purged South Korea's intelligentsia by killing civil servants and intellectuals. By September, UN forces were hemmed into a small corner of southeast Korea, near Pusan. This 230-kilometre (140-mile) perimeter enclosed about 10% of Korea, in a line partially defined by the Nakdong River.


1950 Jul 26 - 1950 Jul 29

No Gun Ri massacre

Nogeun-ri, Hwanggan-myeon, Yeo

No Gun Ri massacre
Huge numbers of South Koreans fled south in mid-1950 after the North Korean army invaded. By spring 1951, the U.S.-led U.N. command estimated 5 million South and North Koreans had become refugees.[1]: 150–51 


The No Gun Ri massacre occurred on July 26–29, 1950, early in the Korean War, when an undetermined number of South Korean refugees were killed in a U.S. air attack and by small- and heavy-weapons fire of the American 7th Cavalry Regiment at a railroad bridge near the village of Nogeun-ri, 100 miles (160 km) southeast of Seoul. In 2005, a South Korean government inquest certified the names of 163 dead or missing and 55 wounded, and added that many other victims' names were not reported. The No Gun Ri Peace Foundation estimated in 2011 that 250–300 were killed, mostly women and children.


The incident was little-known outside Korea until publication of an Associated Press (AP) story in 1999 in which 7th Cavalry veterans corroborated survivors' accounts. The AP also uncovered declassified U.S. Army orders to fire on approaching civilians because of reports of North Korean infiltration of refugee groups. In 2001, the U.S. Army conducted an investigation and, after previously rejecting survivors' claims, acknowledged the killings, but described the three-day event as "an unfortunate tragedy inherent to war and not a deliberate killing". The Army rejected survivors' demands for an apology and compensation, and United States President Bill Clinton issued a statement of regret, adding the next day that "things happened which were wrong".


South Korean investigators disagreed with the U.S. report, saying they believed that 7th Cavalry troops were ordered to fire on the refugees. The survivors' group called the U.S. report a "whitewash". The AP later discovered additional archival documents showing that U.S. commanders ordered troops to "shoot" and "fire on" civilians at the war front during this period; these declassified documents had been found but not disclosed by the Pentagon investigators. Among the undisclosed documents was a letter from the U.S. ambassador in South Korea stating that the U.S. military had adopted a theater-wide policy of firing on approaching refugee groups. Despite demands, the U.S. investigation was not reopened. Prompted by the exposure of No Gun Ri, survivors of similar alleged incidents from 1950–51 filed reports with the Seoul government. In 2008, an investigative commission said more than 200 cases of alleged large-scale killings by the U.S. military had been registered, mostly air attacks.


1950 Aug 4 - 1950 Sep 18

Battle of Pusan Perimeter

Pusan, South Korea

Battle of Pusan Perimeter
UN troops unload in Korea
Battle of Pusan PerimeterBattle of Pusan PerimeterBattle of Pusan Perimeter


The Battle of the Pusan Perimeter was one of the first major engagements of the Korean War. An army of 140,000 UN troops, having been pushed to the brink of defeat, were rallied to make a final stand against the invading Korean People's Army (KPA), 98,000 men strong.


UN forces, having been repeatedly defeated by the advancing KPA, were forced back to the "Pusan Perimeter", a 140-mile (230 km) defensive line around an area on the southeastern tip of South Korea that included the port of Busan. The UN troops, consisting mostly of forces from the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA), United States, and United Kingdom, mounted a last stand around the perimeter, fighting off repeated KPA attacks for six weeks as they were engaged around the cities of Taegu, Masan, and Pohang and the Naktong River. The massive KPA assaults were unsuccessful in forcing the UN troops back further from the perimeter, despite two major pushes in August and September.


North Korean troops, hampered by supply shortages and massive losses, continually staged attacks on UN forces in an attempt to penetrate the perimeter and collapse the line. The UN forces, however, used the port to amass an overwhelming advantage in troops, equipment, and logistics. Tank battalions deployed to Korea directly from the US mainland from the port of San Francisco to the port of Pusan, the largest Korean port. By late August, the Pusan Perimeter had some 500 medium tanks battle-ready. In early September 1950, UN forces outnumbered the KPA 180,000 to 100,000 soldiers.


The United States Air Force (USAF) interrupted KPA logistics with 40 daily ground support sorties that destroyed 32 bridges, halting most daytime road and rail traffic. KPA forces were forced to hide in tunnels by day and move only at night. To deny materiel to the KPA, the USAF destroyed logistics depots, petroleum refineries, and harbors, while the US Navy air forces attacked transport hubs. Consequently, the over-extended KPA could not be supplied throughout the south. 


1950 Sep 1 - 1950 Sep 15

Great Naktong Offensive

Busan, South Korea

Great Naktong Offensive
Great Naktong Offensive
Great Naktong OffensiveGreat Naktong OffensiveGreat Naktong Offensive


The Great Naktong Offensive was the North Korean Korean People's Army (KPA)'s unsuccessful final bid to break the Pusan Perimeter established by the UN forces. By August, the UN troops had been forced into the 140-mile (230 km) Pusan Perimeter on the southeast tip of the Korean peninsula. For the first time, the UN troops formed a continuous line which the KPA could neither flank nor overwhelm with superior numbers. KPA offensives on the perimeter were stalled and by the end of August all momentum was lost. Seeing the danger in a prolonged conflict along the perimeter, the KPA sought a massive offensive for September to collapse the UN line.


The KPA subsequently planned a simultaneous offensive for their entire army along five axes of the perimeter; and on September 1 intense fighting erupted around the cities of Masan, Kyongju, Taegu, Yongch'on and the Naktong Bulge. What followed was two weeks of extremely brutal fighting as the two sides vied to control the routes into Pusan. Initially successful in some areas, the KPA were unable to hold their gains against the numerically and technologically superior UN force. The KPA, again stalled at the failure of this offensive, was outflanked by the Inchon landings on 15 September and on 16 September the UN forces began their breakout from the Pusan Perimeter.


1950 Sep 15 - 1950 Sep 19

Battle of Inchon

Incheon, South Korea

Battle of Inchon | ©Nuclear Vault
Battle of InchonBattle of Inchon


The Battle of Incheon was an amphibious invasion and a battle of the Korean War that resulted in a decisive victory and strategic reversal in favor of the United Nations Command (UN). The operation involved some 75,000 troops and 261 naval vessels and led to the recapture of the South Korean capital of Seoul two weeks later.


The battle began on 15 September 1950 and ended on 19 September. Through a surprise amphibious assault far from the Pusan Perimeter that UN and Republic of Korea Army (ROK) forces were desperately defending, the largely undefended city of Incheon was secured after being bombed by UN forces. The battle ended a string of victories by the North Korean Korean People's Army (KPA). The subsequent UN recapture of Seoul partially severed the KPA's supply lines in South Korea. The battle was followed by a rapid collapse of the KPA; within a month of the Incheon landing, the UN forces had taken 135,000 KPA troops prisoner.


1950 Sep 16

Pusan Perimeter offensive

Pusan, South Korea

Pusan Perimeter offensive
Republic of Korea troops advance to the front lines near P'ohang-dong
Pusan Perimeter offensive


Following the UN counterattack at Inchon on 15 September, on 16 September UN forces within the Pusan Perimeter mounted an offensive to drive back the North Koreans and link up with the UN forces at Inchon.


1950 Sep 22 - 1950 Sep 28

Second Battle of Seoul

Seoul, South Korea

Second Battle of Seoul
UN forces in downtown Seoul during the Second Battle of Seoul. In the foreground, United Nations troops round up North Korean prisoners-of-war.


On 25 September, Seoul was recaptured by UN forces. US air raids caused heavy damage to the KPA, destroying most of its tanks and much of its artillery. KPA troops in the south, instead of effectively withdrawing north, rapidly disintegrated, leaving Pyongyang vulnerable. During the general retreat only 25,000 to 30,000 KPA soldiers managed to reach the KPA lines. On 27 September, Stalin convened an emergency session of the Politburo, in which he condemned the incompetence of the KPA command and held Soviet military advisers responsible for the defeat.


1950 Sep 30 - 1950 Nov 25

UN offensive into North Korea

North Korea

UN offensive into North Korea
US Air Force attacking railroads south of Wonsan on the eastern coast of North Korea
UN offensive into North KoreaUN offensive into North KoreaUN offensive into North Korea


On 27 September near Osan UN forces coming from Inchon linked up with UN forces that had broken out of the Pusan Perimeter and began a general counteroffensive. The North Korean Korean People's Army (KPA) had been shattered and its remnants were fleeing back towards North Korea. The UN Command then decided to pursue the KPA into North Korea, completing their destruction and unifying the country. On 30 September Republic of Korea Army (ROK) forces crossed the 38th Parallel, the de facto border between North and South Korea on the east coast of the Korean peninsula and this was followed by a general UN offensive into North Korea. Within one month UN forces were approaching the Yalu River, prompting Chinese intervention in the war. Despite the initial Chinese attacks in late October-early November, the UN renewed their offensive on 24 November before it was abruptly halted by massive Chinese intervention in the Second Phase Offensive starting on 25 November.


1950 Oct 1 - 1951

Namyangju massacre

Namyangju-si, Gyeonggi-do, Sou

Namyangju massacre


The Namyangju massacre was a mass killing conducted by South Korean police and local militia forces between October 1950 and early 1951 in Namyangju, Gyeonggi-do district of South Korea. More than 460 people were summarily executed, including at least 23 children under the age of 10. After the victory of the Second Battle of Seoul, South Korean authorities arrested and summarily executed several individuals along with their families on suspicion of sympathizing with North Korea. During the massacre, South Korean Police conducted the Goyang Geumjeong Cave massacre in Goyang near Namyangju.On 22 May 2008, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission demanded that the South Korean government apologize for the massacre and support a memorial service for the victims.


1950 Oct 25 - 1950 Nov 4

Battle of Unsan

Ŭnsan, South Pyongan, North Ko

Battle of Unsan
Battle of Unsan


The Battle of Unsan was a series of engagements of the Korean War that took place from 25 October to 4 November 1950 near Unsan, North Pyongan province in present-day North Korea. As part of the People's Republic of China's First Phase Campaign, the People's Volunteer Army (PVA) made repeated attacks against the Republic of Korea Army (ROK) 1st Infantry Division near Unsan beginning on 25 October, in an attempt to take advancing United Nations Command (UNC) forces by surprise. In an encounter with the United States military,[7] the PVA 39th Corps attacked the unprepared U.S. 8th Cavalry Regiment in Unsan on 1 November, resulting in one of the most devastating U.S. losses of the war.


1950 Oct 25 - 1950 Oct 29

Battle of Onjong

Onsong, North Hamgyong, North

Battle of Onjong
Battle of Onjong


The Battle of Onjong was one of the first engagements between Chinese and South Korean forces during the Korean War. It took place around Onjong in present-day North Korea from 25 to 29 October 1950. As the main focus of the Chinese First Phase Offensive, the People's Volunteer Army (PVA) 40th Corps conducted a series of ambushes against the Republic of Korea Army (ROK) II Corps, effectively destroying the right flank of the United States Eighth Army while stopping the UN advance north toward the Yalu River.


1950 Oct 25

China enters the Korean War

Yalu River

China enters the Korean War | ©Kings and Generals


On 30 June 1950, five days after the outbreak of the war, Zhou Enlai, premier of the PRC and vice-chairman of the Central Military Committee of the CCP (CMCC), decided to send a group of Chinese military intelligence personnel to North Korea to establish better communications with Kim II-Sung as well as to collect first-hand materials on the fighting. One week later,it was decided that the Thirteenth Army Corps under the Fourth Field Army of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), one of the best trained and equipped units in China, would be immediately transformed into the Northeastern Border Defense Army (NEBDA) to prepare for "an intervention in the Korean War if necessary".


On 20 August 1950, Premier Zhou Enlai informed the UN that "Korea is China's neighbor... The Chinese people cannot but be concerned about a solution of the Korean question". Thus, through neutral-country diplomats, China warned that in safeguarding Chinese national security, they would intervene against the UN Command in Korea. On 1 October 1950, the day that UN troops crossed the 38th Parallel, the Soviet ambassador forwarded a telegram from Stalin to Mao and Zhou requesting that China send five to six divisions into Korea, and Kim Il-sung sent frantic appeals to Mao for Chinese military intervention. 


On 18 October 1950, Zhou met with Mao Zedong, Peng Dehuai and Gao Gang, and the group ordered two hundred thousand PVA troops to enter North Korea, which they did on 19 October. UN aerial reconnaissance had difficulty sighting PVA units in daytime, because their march and bivouac discipline minimized aerial detection. The PVA marched "dark-to-dark" (19:00–03:00), and aerial camouflage (concealing soldiers, pack animals, and equipment) was deployed by 05:30. Meanwhile, daylight advance parties scouted for the next bivouac site. During daylight activity or marching, soldiers were to remain motionless if an aircraft appeared, until it flew away; PVA officers were under order to shoot security violators. Such battlefield discipline allowed a three-division army to march the 460 km (286 mi) from An-tung, Manchuria, to the combat zone in some 19 days. Another division night-marched a circuitous mountain route, averaging 29 km (18 mi) daily for 18 days. After secretly crossing the Yalu River on 19 October, the PVA 13th Army Group launched the First Phase Offensive on 25 October, attacking the advancing UN forces near the Sino-Korean border. This military decision made solely by China changed the attitude of the Soviet Union. Twelve days after PVA troops entered the war, Stalin allowed the Soviet Air Force to provide air cover and supported more aid to China.


1950 Nov 5

US threat of Atomic Warfare

Korean Peninsula

US threat of Atomic Warfare
Mark 4 bomb, seen on display, transferred to the 9th Operations Group.


On 5 November 1950, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff issued orders for the retaliatory atomic bombing of Manchurian PRC military bases, if either their armies crossed into Korea or if PRC or KPA bombers attacked Korea from there. President Truman ordered the transfer of nine Mark 4 nuclear bombs "to the Air Force's Ninth Bomb Group, the designated carrier of the weapons signed an order to use them against Chinese and Korean targets", which he never transmitted. Truman and Eisenhower both had military experience and viewed nuclear weapons as potentially usable components of their military.


As PVA forces pushed back the UN forces from the Yalu River, Truman stated during a 30 November 1950 press conference that using nuclear weapons was "always [under] active consideration", with control under the local military commander. The Indian ambassador, K. Madhava Panikkar, reports "that Truman announced he was thinking of using the atom bomb in Korea. 


1950 Nov 25 - 1950 Dec 24

Second Phase Offensive

North Korea

Second Phase Offensive
Chinese advance on a U.S./UN position. "Contrary to popular belief the Chinese did not attack in 'human waves', but in compact combat groups of 50 to 100 men".[8]: 48 


The Second Phase Offensive was an offensive by the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) against UN forces. The two major engagements of the campaign were the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River in the western part of North Korea and the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the eastern part of North Korea.


Casualties were heavy on both sides. The battles were fought in temperatures as low as −30 °C (−22 °F) and casualties from frostbite may have exceeded those from battle wounds. U.S. intelligence and air reconnaissance failed to detect the large numbers of Chinese soldiers present in North Korea. Thus, the UN units, the Eighth United States Army on the west and the X Corps on the east, kicked off the "Home-by-Christmas" offensive on 24 November with "unwarranted confidence...believing that they comfortably outnumbered enemy forces." The Chinese attacks came as a surprise. The Home-by-Christmas offensive, with the objective of conquering all of North Korea and ending the war, was quickly abandoned in light of the massive Chinese assault. The Second Phase Offensive forced all UN forces to go on the defensive and retreat. China had recaptured nearly all of North Korea by the end of the offensive.


1950 Nov 25 - 1950 Dec 2

Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River

Ch'ongch'on River

Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River
Soldiers from the Chinese 39th Corps pursue the US 25th Infantry Division
Battle of the Ch'ongch'on RiverBattle of the Ch'ongch'on RiverBattle of the Ch'ongch'on RiverBattle of the Ch'ongch'on River


The Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River was a decisive battle in the Korean War along the Ch'ongch'on River Valley in the northwestern part of North Korea. In response to the successful Chinese First Phase Campaign, UN forces launched the Home-by-Christmas Offensive to expel the Chinese forces from Korea and to end the war. Anticipating this reaction, the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) Commander Peng Dehuai planned a counteroffensive, dubbed the "Second Phase Campaign", against the advancing UN forces.


Hoping to repeat the success of the earlier First Phase Campaign, the PVA 13th Army first launched a series of surprise attacks along the Ch'ongch'on River Valley on the night of November 25, 1950, effectively destroying the Eighth United States Army's right flank while allowing PVA forces to move rapidly into UN rear areas. In the subsequent battles and withdrawals during the period of November 26 to December 2, 1950, although the US Eighth Army managed to avoid being surrounded by PVA forces, the PVA 13th Army were still able to inflict heavy losses onto the retreating UN forces which had lost all cohesion. In the aftermath of the battle, the US Eighth Army's heavy losses forced all UN forces to retreat from North Korea to the 38th Parallel.


1950 Nov 27 - 1950 Dec 13

Battle of Chosin Reservoir

Chosin Reservoir

Battle of Chosin Reservoir
Marines watch F4U Corsairs drop napalm on Chinese positions.


On 27 November 1950, the Chinese force surprised the US X Corps commanded by Major General Edward Almond in the Chosin Reservoir area. A brutal 17-day battle in freezing weather soon followed. Between 27 November and 13 December, 30,000 UN troops (later nicknamed "The Chosin Few") under the field command of Major General Oliver P. Smith were encircled and attacked by about 120,000 Chinese troops under the command of Song Shilun, who had been ordered by Mao Zedong to destroy the UN forces. The UN forces were nevertheless able to break out of the encirclement and to make a fighting withdrawal to the port of Hungnam, inflicting heavy casualties on the Chinese. The retreat of the US Eighth Army from northwest Korea in the aftermath of the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River and the evacuation of the X Corps from the port of Hungnam in northeast Korea marked the complete withdrawal of UN troops from North Korea.


1950 Dec 31 - 1951 Jan 7

Third Battle of Seoul

Seoul, South Korea

Third Battle of Seoul
Soldiers from the British 29th Infantry Brigade captured by the Chinese
Third Battle of SeoulThird Battle of Seoul


In the aftermath of the major Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) victory at the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River, the United Nations Command (UN) started to contemplate the possibility of evacuation from the Korean Peninsula. Chinese Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong ordered the Chinese People's Volunteer Army to cross the 38th Parallel in an effort to pressure the UN forces to withdraw from South Korea.


On December 31, 1950, the Chinese 13th Army attacked the Republic of Korea Army (ROK)'s 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th Infantry Divisions along the 38th Parallel, breaching UN defenses at the Imjin River, Hantan River, Gapyeong and Chuncheon in the process. To prevent the PVA forces from overwhelming the defenders, the US Eighth Army now under the command of Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgway evacuated Seoul on January 3, 1951.


1951 Jan 25 - 1951 Feb 20

Operation Thunderbolt

Wonju, Gangwon-do, South Korea

Operation Thunderbolt
Operation Thunderbolt


UN forces retreated to Suwon in the west, Wonju in the center, and the territory north of Samcheok in the east, where the battlefront stabilized and held. The PVA had outrun its logistics capability and thus were unable to press on beyond Seoul as food, ammunition, and matériel were carried nightly, on foot and bicycle, from the border at the Yalu River to the three battle lines. In late January, upon finding that the PVA had abandoned their battle lines, General Ridgway ordered a reconnaissance-in-force, which became Operation Thunderbolt (25 January 1951). A full-scale advance followed, which fully exploited the UN's air superiority, concluding with the UN forces reaching the Han River and recapturing Wonju.


1951 Feb 9 - 1951 Feb 11

Geochang massacre

South Gyeongsang Province, Sou

Geochang massacre
Geochang massacre victims


The Geochang massacre was a massacre conducted by the third battalion of the 9th regiment of the 11th Division of the South Korean Army between 9 February 1951 and 11 February 1951 of 719 unarmed citizens in Geochang, South Gyeongsang district of South Korea. The victims included 385 children. The 11th Division also conducted the Sancheong-Hamyang massacre two days earlier. The general commanding the division was Choe Deok-sin.


In June 2010, An Jeong-a, a researcher for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, disclosed National Defense Ministry official documents on his thesis that the massacre had been done under official South Korean Army order in order to annihilate citizens living in the guerrilla influenced area. On September 9, 2010, An was fired for disclosing Geochang massacre documents. The National Defense Ministry accused An of disclosing the documents which he had been only permitted to view under the condition of nondisclosure.


1951 Feb 11 - 1951 Feb 13

Battle of Hoengsong

Hoengseong, Gangwon-do, South

Battle of Hoengsong
Battle of Hoengsong


The Battle of Hoengsong was part of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) Fourth Phase Offensive and was fought between the PVA and United Nations forces. After being pushed back northward by the UN's Operation Thunderbolt counteroffensive, the PVA was victorious in this battle, inflicting heavy casualties on the UN forces in the two days of fighting and temporarily regaining the initiative.


The initial PVA assault fell on the Republic of Korea Army (ROK) 8th Infantry Division which disintegrated after several hours of attacks by three PVA divisions. When the U.S. armored and artillery forces supporting the ROK 8th Division found their infantry screen evaporating, they began to withdraw down the single road through the twisting valley north of Hoengsong; but they were soon outflanked by PVA infiltrating cross-country. Hundreds of U.S. soldiers were killed by PVA forces, which resulted in one of the most lopsided defeats suffered by the U.S. military in the Korean War.


1951 Feb 13 - 1951 Feb 15

Battle of Chipyong-ni

Jipyeong-ri, Sangju-si

Battle of Chipyong-ni
Battle of Chipyong-ni


The Battle of Chipyong-ni represents the "high-water mark" of the Chinese invasion of South Korea. The UN forces fought a short but desperate battle that broke the attack's momentum. The battle is sometimes known as the "Gettysburg of the Korean War": 5,600 South Korean, US, and French troops were surrounded on all sides by 25,000 PVA. UN forces had previously retreated in the face of large PVA/KPA forces instead of getting cut off, but this time they stood and fought, and won. Due to the ferocity of the Chinese attack and the heroism of the defenders, the battle has also been called "one of the greatest regimental defense actions in military history".


1951 Mar 7 - 1951 Apr 4

Operation Ripper

Seoul, South Korea

Operation Ripper
British soldier in Korean War
Operation Ripper


Operation Ripper, also known as the Fourth Battle of Seoul, was intended to destroy as much as possible of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) and Korean People's Army (KPA) forces around Seoul and the towns of Hongch'on, 50 miles (80 km) east of Seoul, and Chuncheon, 15 miles (24 km) further north. The operation also aimed to bring UN troops to the 38th Parallel. It followed upon the heels of Operation Killer, an eight-day UN offensive that concluded February 28, to push PVA/KPA forces north of the Han River.


Operation Ripper was preceded by the largest artillery bombardment of the Korean War. In the middle, the US 25th Infantry Division quickly crossed the Han and established a bridgehead. Further to the east, IX Corps reached its first phase line on 11 March. Three days later the advance proceeded to the next phase line. During the night of 14–15 March, elements of the ROK 1st Infantry Division and the US 3rd Infantry Division liberated Seoul, marking the fourth and last time the capital changed hands since June 1950. The PVA/KPA forces were compelled to abandon it when the UN approach to the east of the city threatened them with encirclement.


Following the recapture of Seoul the PVA/KPA forces retreated northward, conducting skilful delaying actions that utilized the rugged, muddy terrain to maximum advantage, particularly in the mountainous US X Corps sector. Despite such obstacles, Operation Ripper pressed on throughout March. In the mountainous central region, US IX and US X Corps pushed forward methodically, IX Corps against light opposition and X Corps against staunch enemy defenses. Hongch'on was taken on the 15th and Chuncheon secured on the 22nd. The capture of Chuncheon was the last major ground objective of Operation Ripper.


1951 Apr 22 - 1951 Apr 25

Battle of the Imjin River

Imjin River

Battle of the Imjin River | ©Dark Docs
Battle of the Imjin RiverBattle of the Imjin RiverBattle of the Imjin River


Troops from the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) attacked United Nations Command (UN) positions on the lower Imjin River in an attempt to achieve a breakthrough and recapture the South Korean capital Seoul. The attack was part of the Chinese Spring Offensive, the aim of which was to regain the initiative on the battlefield after a series of successful UN counter-offensives in January–March 1951 had allowed UN forces to establish themselves beyond the 38th Parallel at the Kansas Line.


The section of the UN line where the battle took place was defended primarily by British forces of the 29th Infantry Brigade, consisting of three British and one Belgian infantry battalions supported by tanks and artillery. Despite facing a greatly numerically superior enemy, the brigade held its general positions for three days. When the units of the 29th Infantry Brigade were ultimately forced to fall back, their actions in the Battle of the Imjin River together with those of other UN forces, for example in the Battle of Kapyong, had blunted the impetus of the PVA offensive and allowed UN forces to retreat to prepared defensive positions north of Seoul, where the PVA were halted. It is often known as the "Battle that saved Seoul."


1951 Apr 22 - 1951 Apr 25

Battle of Kapyong

Gapyeong County, Gyeonggi-do,

Battle of Kapyong
New Zealand gunners firing a 25-pounder in Korea


The Battle of Kapyong was fought between UN forces — primarily Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand—and the 118th Division of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA). The fighting occurred during the Chinese Spring Offensive and saw the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade establish blocking positions in the Kapyong Valley, on a key route south to the capital, Seoul. The two forward battalions—the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment and 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, both battalions consisting of about 700 men each—were supported by guns from the 16th Field Regiment of the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery along with a company of US mortars and fifteen Sherman tanks. These forces occupied positions astride the valley with hastily developed defences. As thousands of soldiers from the Republic of Korea Army (ROK) began to withdraw through the valley, the PVA infiltrated the brigade position under the cover of darkness, and assaulted the Australians on Hill 504 during the evening and into the following day.


Although heavily outnumbered, the Australian and American tanks held their positions into the afternoon of April 24 before they were withdrawn from the battlefield to positions in the rear of the brigade headquarters, with both sides having suffered heavy casualties. The PVA then turned their attention to the surrounded Canadians on Hill 677, whose encirclement prevented any resupply or reinforcements from entering. The Canadian 2 PCCLI were ordered to make a last stand on Hill 677. During a fierce night battle on April 24/25 the Chinese forces were unable to dislodge the 2 PPCLI and sustained enormous losses. The next day the PVA withdrew back up the valley in order to regroup, and the Canadians were relieved late on April 26. The fighting helped blunt the PVA offensive and the actions of the Australians and Canadians at Kapyong were critical in preventing a breakthrough against the UN central front, the encirclement of US forces in Korea, and ultimately the capture of Seoul. The Canadian and Australian battalions bore the brunt of the assault and stopped an entire PVA division estimated at 10,000-20,000 in strength during the hard-fought defensive battle.


1951 May 20 - 1951 Jul 1

UN counteroffensive

Hwach'on Reservoir, Hwacheon-g

UN counteroffensive


The UN May–June 1951 counteroffensive was launched in response to the Chinese spring offensive of April-May 1951. It was the final large-scale offensive of the war that saw significant territorial changes. By 19 May the second phase of the spring offensive, the Battle of the Soyang River, on the eastern section of the front, was losing momentum due to reinforcement of the UN forces, supply difficulties and mounting losses from UN air and artillery strikes. On 20 May the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) and Korean People's Army (KPA) began to withdraw after suffering heavy losses, simultaneously the UN launched their counteroffensive in the west and central portions of the front. On 24 May, once the PVA/KPA advance had been halted, the UN began a counteroffensive there also. In the west UN forces were unable to maintain contact with the PVA/KPA as they withdrew faster than the UN advance. In the central area the UN forces made contact with the PVA/KPA at chokepoints north of Chuncheon inflicting heavy losses. In the east UN forces had remained in contact with the PVA/KPA and progressively pushed them back north of the Soyang River.


By mid-June UN forces had reached Line Kansas approximately 2–6 miles (3.2–9.7 km) north of the 38th Parallel from which they had withdrawn at the start of the spring offensive and in some areas advanced to Line Wyoming further north. With the discussions for the start of ceasefire negotiations underway, the UN advance stopped on the Kansas-Wyoming Line which was fortified as the Main line of resistance and despite some limited attacks this would essentially remain the frontline throughout the next 2 years of stalemate.


1951 Jul 10 - 1953 Jul

Stalemate

Korean Peninsula

Stalemate
US M46 Patton tanks, painted with tiger heads thought to demoralize Chinese forces


For the remainder of the war, the UN and the PVA/KPA fought but exchanged little territory, as the stalemate held. Large-scale bombing of North Korea continued, and protracted armistice negotiations began on 10 July 1951 at Kaesong, an ancient capital of Korea located in PVA/KPA held territory. On the Chinese side, Zhou Enlai directed peace talks, and Li Kenong and Qiao Guanghua headed the negotiation team. Combat continued while the belligerents negotiated; the goal of the UN forces was to recapture all of South Korea and to avoid losing territory. The PVA and the KPA attempted similar operations and later effected military and psychological operations in order to test the UN Command's resolve to continue the war. The two sides constantly traded artillery fire along the front, the UN forces possessing a large firepower advantage over the Chinese-led forces. For example, in the last three months of 1952 the UN fired 3,553,518 field gun shells and 2,569,941 mortar shells, while the Communists fired 377,782 field gun shells and 672,194 mortar shells: an overall 5.83:1 ratio in the UN's favor. The Communist insurgency, reinvigorated by North Korean support and scattered bands of KPA stragglers, also resurged in the south. In the autumn of 1951, Van Fleet ordered Major General Paik Sun-yup to break the back of guerrilla activity. From December 1951 to March 1952, ROK security forces claimed to have killed 11,090 partisans and sympathizers and captured 9,916 more.


1951 Aug 1 - 1953 Jul

Talks at Panmunjom

🇺🇳 Joint Security Area (JSA)

Talks at Panmunjom
Site of negotiations in 1951


United Nations forces met with North Korean and Chinese officials at Panmunjeom from 1951 to 1953 for truce talks. The talks dragged on for many months. The main point of contention during the talks was the question surrounding the prisoners of war. Moreover, South Korea was uncompromising in its demand for a unified state. On June 8, 1953, an agreement to the POW problem was reached.


Those prisoners who refused to return to their countries were allowed to live under a neutral supervising commission for three months. At the end of this period, those who still refused repatriation would be released. Among those who refused repatriation were 21 American and one British POWs, all but two of whom chose to defect to the People's Republic of China.


1951 Aug 18 - 1951 Sep 5

Battle of Bloody Ridge

Yanggu County, Gangwon Provinc

Battle of Bloody Ridge


By the summer of 1951, the Korean War had reached a stalemate as peace negotiations began at Kaesong. The opposing armies faced each other across a line which ran from east to west, through the middle of the Korean peninsula, located in hills a few miles north of the 38th Parallel in the central Korean mountain range. United Nations and the North Korean Korean People's Army (KPA) and Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) forces jockeyed for position along this line, clashing in several relatively small but intense and bloody battles. Bloody Ridge began as an attempt by UN forces to seize a ridge of hills which they believed were being used as observation posts to call in artillery fire on a UN supply road.


1951 Sep 13 - 1951 Oct 15

Battle of Heartbreak Ridge

Yanggu County, Gangwon Provinc

Battle of Heartbreak Ridge
U.S. Army infantrymen of the 27th Infantry Regiment, near Heartbreak Ridge, take advantage of cover and concealment in tunnel positions, 40 yards from the KPA/PVA on 10 August 1952


After withdrawing from Bloody Ridge, the Korean People's Army (KPA) set up new positions just 1,500 yards (1,400 m) away on a 7-mile (11 km) long hill mass. If anything, the defenses were even more formidable here than on Bloody Ridge. The Battle of Heartbreak Ridge was one of several major engagements in the hills of North Korea a few miles north of the 38th Parallel (the pre-war boundary between North and South Korea), near Chorwon.


1951 Oct 1

US activates Nuclear Weapon capability

Kadena Air Base, Higashi, Kade

US activates Nuclear Weapon capability
B-29 bombers


In 1951, the US escalated closest to atomic warfare in Korea. Because China deployed new armies to the Sino-Korean frontier, ground crews at the Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, assembled atomic bombs for Korean warfare, "lacking only the essential pit nuclear cores". In October 1951, the United States effected Operation Hudson Harbor to establish a nuclear weapons capability. USAF B-29 bombers practiced individual bombing runs from Okinawa to North Korea (using dummy nuclear or conventional bombs), coordinated from Yokota Air Base in east-central Japan. Hudson Harbor tested "actual functioning of all activities which would be involved in an atomic strike, including weapons assembly and testing, leading, ground control of bomb aiming". The bombing run data indicated that atomic bombs would be tactically ineffective against massed infantry, because the "timely identification of large masses of enemy troops was extremely rare".


General Matthew Ridgway was authorized to use nuclear weapons if a major air attack originated from outside Korea. An envoy was sent to Hong Kong to deliver a warning to China. The message likely caused Chinese leaders to be more cautious about potential US use of nuclear weapons, but whether they learned about the B-29 deployment is unclear and the failure of the two major Chinese offensives that month likely was what caused them to shift to a defensive strategy in Korea. The B-29s returned to the United States in June.


1952 Mar 21 - 1952 Jul 18

Battle of Hill Eerie

Chorwon, Kangwon, North Korea

Battle of Hill Eerie
Filipino troops during the Korean War


The Battle of Hill Eerie refers to several Korean War engagements between the United Nations Command (UN) forces and the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) in 1952 at Hill Eerie, a military outpost about 10 miles (16 km) west of Ch'orwon. It was taken several times by both sides; each sabotaging the others' position.


1952 Jun 26 - 1953 Mar 26

Battle of Old Baldy

Sangnyŏng, North Korea

Battle of Old Baldy
Personnel of the Korean Service Corps unload logs—for the construction of bunkers—from an M-39 Armored Utility Vehicle at the RHE 2nd US Inf Div supply point on "Old Baldy" near Chorwon, Korea.


The Battle of Old Baldy refers to a series of five engagements for Hill 266 in west-central Korea. They occurred over a period of 10 months in 1952–1953, though there was also vicious fighting both before and after these engagements.


1952 Oct 6 - 1952 Oct 15

Battle of White Horse

Cheorwon, Gangwon-do, South Ko

Battle of White Horse


Baekma-goji or White Horse was the crest of a 395-metre (1,296 ft) forested hill mass that extended in a northwest-to-southeast direction for about 2 miles (3.2 km), part of the area controlled by the U.S. IX Corps, and considered an important outpost hill with a good command over the Yokkok-chon Valley, dominating the western approaches to Cheorwon. Loss of the hill would force IX Corps to withdraw to the high ground south of the Yokkok-chon in the Cheorwon area, denying the IX Corps use of the Cheorwon road net and would open up the entire Cheorwon area to enemy attack and penetration.


During ten days of battle, the hill would change hands 24 times after repeated attacks and counterattacks for its possession. Afterwards, Baengma-goji looked like a threadbare white horse, thence its name of Baengma, meaning a white horse.


1952 Oct 14 - 1952 Nov 25

Battle of Triangle Hill

Gimhwa-eup, Cheorwon-gun, Gang

Battle of Triangle Hill
Chinese infantrymen throwing rocks at attackers after ammo depletion.


The Battle of Triangle Hill was a protracted military engagement during the Korean War. The main combatants were two United Nations (UN) infantry divisions, with additional support from the United States Air Force, against elements of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) 15th and 12th Corps.The battle was part of UN attempts to gain control of the "Iron Triangle".


The immediate UN objective was Triangle Hill, a forested ridge of high ground 2 kilometers (1.2 mi) north of Gimhwa-eup. The hill was occupied by the veterans of the PVA's 15th Corps. Over the course of nearly a month, substantial US and Republic of Korea Army (ROK) forces made repeated attempts to capture Triangle Hill and the adjacent Sniper Ridge. Despite clear superiority in artillery and aircraft, the escalating UN casualties resulted in the attack being halted after 42 days of fighting, with PVA forces regaining their original positions.


1953 Apr 16 - 1953 Jul 11

Battle of Pork Chop Hill

Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi-do, South

Battle of Pork Chop Hill


The Battle of Pork Chop Hill comprises a pair of related Korean War infantry battles during April and July 1953. These were fought while the United Nations Command (UN) and the Chinese and North Koreans negotiated the Korean Armistice Agreement. The UN won the first battle but the Chinese won the second battle.


1953 May 28 - 1953 May 29

Third Battle of the Hook

Hangdong-ri, Baekhak-myeon, Ye

Third Battle of the Hook
Men of the 1st Battalion, The Duke of Wellington's Regiment, have a smoke while waiting for dusk to fall before joining a patrol into no-man's land at The Hook.
Third Battle of the Hook


The Third Battle of the Hook took place between a United Nations Command (UN) force, consisting mostly of British troops, supported on their flanks by American and Turkish units against a predominantly Chinese force.


1953 Jun 10 - 1953 Jul 20

Battle of Kumsong

Kangwon Province, North Korea

Battle of Kumsong


The Battle of Kumsong was one of the last battles of the Korean War. During the ceasefire negotiations seeking to end the Korean War, the United Nations Command (UNC) and Chinese and North Korean forces were unable to agree on the issue of prisoner repatriation. South Korean President Syngman Rhee, who refused to sign the armistice, released 27,000 North Korean prisoners who refused repatriation. This action caused an outrage among the Chinese and North Korean commands and threatened to derail the ongoing negotiations. As a result, the Chinese decided to launch an offensive aimed at the Kumsong salient. This would be the last large-scale Chinese offensive of the war, scoring a victory over the UN forces.


1953 Jul 27

Korean Armistice Agreement

🇺🇳 Joint Security Area (JSA)

Korean Armistice Agreement
Kim Il-sung signs the agreement
Korean Armistice AgreementKorean Armistice Agreement


The Korean Armistice Agreement is an armistice that brought about a complete cessation of hostilities of the Korean War. It was signed by United States Army Lieutenant General William Harrison Jr. and General Mark W. Clark representing the United Nations Command (UNC), North Korea leader Kim Il-sung and General Nam Il representing the Korean People's Army (KPA), and Peng Dehuai representing the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA). The armistice was signed on 27 July 1953, and was designed to "ensure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved."


South Korea never signed the Armistice Agreement, due to President Syngman Rhee’s refusal to accept having failed to unify Korea by force. China normalized relations and signed a peace treaty with South Korea in 1992. 


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Characters

Key Figures for Korean War



Pak Hon-yong

Pak Hon-yong

Korean Communist Movement Leader

Choe Yong-gon (official)

Choe Yong-gon (official)

North Korean Supreme Commander

George C. Marshall

George C. Marshall

United States Secretary of Defense

Kim Il-sung

Kim Il-sung

Founder of North Korea

Lee Hyung-geun

Lee Hyung-geun

General of Republic of Korea

Shin Song-mo

Shin Song-mo

First Prime Minister of South Korea

Syngman Rhee

Syngman Rhee

First President of South Korea

Robert A. Lovett

Robert A. Lovett

United States Secretary of Defense

Kim Tu-bong

Kim Tu-bong

First Chairman of the Workers' Party

Kim Chaek

Kim Chaek

North Korean Revolutionary





Further Reading

Book Recommenations for Korean War



  • Cumings, B (2011). The Korean War: A history. New York: Modern Library.
  • Kraus, Daniel (2013). The Korean War. Booklist.
  • Warner, G. (1980). The Korean War. International Affairs.
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: Appleman, Roy E (1998) [1961]. South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu. United States Army Center of Military History. pp. 3, 15, 381, 545, 771, 719. ISBN 978-0160019180. Archived from the original on 7 February 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  • Barnouin, Barbara; Yu, Changgeng (2006). Zhou Enlai: A Political Life. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press. ISBN 978-9629962807.
  • Becker, Jasper (2005). Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195170443.
  • Beschloss, Michael (2018). Presidents of War: The Epic Story, from 1807 to Modern Times. New York: Crown. ISBN 978-0-307-40960-7.
  • Blair, Clay (2003). The Forgotten War: America in Korea, 1950–1953. Naval Institute Press.
  • Chen, Jian (1994). China's Road to the Korean War: The Making of the Sino-American Confrontation. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0231100250.
  • Clodfelter, Micheal (1989). A Statistical History of the Korean War: 1950-1953. Bennington, Vermont: Merriam Press.
  • Cumings, Bruce (2005). Korea's Place in the Sun : A Modern History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0393327021.
  • Cumings, Bruce (1981). "3, 4". Origins of the Korean War. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-8976966124.
  • Dear, Ian; Foot, M.R.D. (1995). The Oxford Companion to World War II. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 516. ISBN 978-0198662259.
  • Goulden, Joseph C (1983). Korea: The Untold Story of the War. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 17. ISBN 978-0070235809.
  • Halberstam, David (2007). The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 978-1401300524.
  • Hanley, Charles J. (2020). Ghost Flames: Life and Death in a Hidden War, Korea 1950-1953. New York, New York: Public Affairs. ISBN 9781541768154.
  • Hanley, Charles J.; Choe, Sang-Hun; Mendoza, Martha (2001). The Bridge at No Gun Ri: A Hidden Nightmare from the Korean War. New York: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-6658-6.
  • Hermes, Walter G. Truce Tent and Fighting Front. [Multiple editions]:
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: * Hermes, Walter G. (1992), Truce Tent and Fighting Front, Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army, ISBN 978-0160359576
  • Hermes, Walter G (1992a). "VII. Prisoners of War". Truce Tent and Fighting Front. United States Army in the Korean War. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army. pp. 135–144. ISBN 978-1410224842. Archived from the original on 6 January 2010. Appendix B-2 Archived 5 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  • Jager, Sheila Miyoshi (2013). Brothers at War – The Unending Conflict in Korea. London: Profile Books. ISBN 978-1846680670.
  • Kim, Yǒng-jin (1973). Major Powers and Korea. Silver Spring, MD: Research Institute on Korean Affairs. OCLC 251811671.
  • Lee, Steven. “The Korean War in History and Historiography.” Journal of American-East Asian Relations 21#2 (2014): 185–206. doi:10.1163/18765610-02102010.
  • Lin, L., et al. "Whose history? An analysis of the Korean war in history textbooks from the United States, South Korea, Japan, and China". Social Studies 100.5 (2009): 222–232. online
  • Malkasian, Carter (2001). The Korean War, 1950–1953. Essential Histories. London; Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn. ISBN 978-1579583644.
  • Matray, James I., and Donald W. Boose Jr, eds. The Ashgate research companion to the Korean War (2014) excerpt; covers historiography
  • Matray, James I. "Conflicts in Korea" in Daniel S. Margolies, ed. A Companion to Harry S. Truman (2012) pp 498–531; emphasis on historiography.
  • Millett, Allan R. (2007). The Korean War: The Essential Bibliography. The Essential Bibliography Series. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books Inc. ISBN 978-1574889765.
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: Mossman, Billy C. (1990). Ebb and Flow, November 1950 – July 1951. United States Army in the Korean War. Vol. 5. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army. OCLC 16764325. Archived from the original on 29 January 2021. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  • Perrett, Bryan (1987). Soviet Armour Since 1945. London: Blandford. ISBN 978-0713717358.
  • Ravino, Jerry; Carty, Jack (2003). Flame Dragons of the Korean War. Paducah, KY: Turner.
  • Rees, David (1964). Korea: The Limited War. New York: St Martin's. OCLC 1078693.
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Last Updated: Thu, 26 Jan 2023 21:38:26 GMT