KENTUCKY (7/27/13) – Today marks the 60th anniversary of the Korean War or also known as the “Forgotten War.”
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Korean peninsula had been part of the Japanese empire and after WWII it fell to the American and Soviet hands for them to decide what happened to the enemy’s imperial possessions. In August of 1945, the 38th parallel division of Korea happened. The two newly formed countries became ideologically opposite. The Russians occupied the north and the Americans occupied the south. Nearly 10,000 north and south Koreans were killed in battle before the Korean War ever started.
In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly approved elections to be held throughout Korea to choose a provisional government for the entire country. However, the Soviet Union opposed the idea.
On May 10, 1948, South Korea elected a national assembly to setup the government of the Republic of Korea. But the people of North Korea refused and by that September, the North Korean Communists established the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Shortly after, the United States removed its last troops from Korea in 1949, and in early 1950 North Korea decided upon war to achieve its goal of unifying the entire country of Korea under Communist rule.
About 135,000 soldiers from the North Korea People’s Army crossed the 38th parallel and invaded the Republic of Korea in the south. President Harry Truman directed General Douglas MacArthur to evacuate the America dependents and assist the Republic of Korea. The war continued and in July of 1951, a truce talk began at Kaesong then made its way to Panmunjom by that October.
By November 1951, both sides came to an agreement that the existing battle lines would be the final dividing line between North and South Korea if a truce was reached.
Finally after two plus years of negotiating, the adversaries signed an armistice on July 27, 1953. It drew a boundary near the 38th parallel that gave the south an extra 1,500 square miles and created a 2 mile-wide “demilitarized zone” that still exists today.
Even though the Korean War was short, 5 million people died. Almost 40,000 Americans died and more than 100,000 were wounded.
The agreement was notably not a peace treaty, but rather, a ceasefire. Sixty years later, it still seems they are no closer to a peaceful ending of the conflict.
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