The Korean War came to a complete if inconclusive end on today’s date, July 27 in 1953. The preamble to the treaty itself (the signing is pictured above) makes that clear enough for all to see:
“The undersigned, the (all the belligerent states), in the interest of stopping the Korean conflict, with its great toil of suffering and bloodshed on both sides, and with the objective of establishing an armistice which will insure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved, do individually, collectively, and mutually agree to accept and to be bound and governed by the conditions and terms of armistice set forth in the following articles and paragraphs…”
And that was it. No formal surrender as the Germans had done at Reims in 1945, and no grand ceremony of complete surrender as the Japanese had delivered on the Battleship Missouri in Tokyo harbor, also in 1945. It was for the “… stopping the Korean conflict, with its great toil of suffering and bloodshed on both sides….” and that was it. The two sides had spent over three years beating each others brains out, and they both had had enough.
The Korean War and It’s Course
The Korean War had begun on June 25, 1950 when the Army of Communist North Korea suddenly and without provocation invaded the territory of Non-Communist South Korea in great numbers. This was a complete surprise to the western powers which supported a fee and independent government on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. Soon it became clear that the South Korean Army would not be capable of defending their territory without assistance from it’s western allies. In his thoughts about whether or not to intervene, U.S. President Harry Truman thought back the policy of appeasement which had ultimately lead to World War II: “If this was allowed to go unchallenged, it would mean a third world war, just as smaller incidents had brought on the second world war.” After debating the matter, the United Nations Security Council, June 27, 1950, published Resolution 83 which recommended member state military assistance to the Republic of Korea. This lead to armed forces from well over a dozen United Nations member states other than the U.S. and the Republic of Korea (ROK) into combat operations against the communist forces which were supported militarily by the U.S.S.R.
The Fighting goes Up and Down Korea Until a Stalemate is Reached
The North Koreans smashed a path all the way to a small parcel of land known as the Pusan Perimeter. There the U.S./R.O.K. hung on by their fingernails until September 1950, when a surprise landing by the U.S. Marines under the command of General Douglas MacArthur far in the
rear of the North Korean lines broke the back of their offensive and forced them to withdraw deep into their won territory, all the way to the Chinese boarder.Then the Chinese attacked with over 30 Divisions in November and December of 1951, thus forcing the U.N. (United Nations) forces back to nearly the 39 parallel wherein the war began in the first place, Eventually Truman fired MacArthur on April 11, 1951, for insubordination over the war’s direction. The fighting and bloodshed went on until Dwyght Eisenhower took over as President.
Ike Goes to Korea, Changes Course…Slightly
All throughout the 1952 Presidential Campaign General Eisenhower (below, middle) had pledged that if elected he would go to Korea to see the
stalemate for himself. Thus when he became President in January of 1953 and saw that stalemate in person, he decided a new approach was needed. He began allowing Nationalist Chinese forces from Taiwan to launch harassing air raids for their territory. He began leaning on the South Koreans to scale back on some of their demands. And most importantly he began to publically hint that he might use the American nuclear advantage to break the stalemate in Korea. Whether or not Ike’s hint that he might nuke the north were serious (that would likely set off World War III) the new approach helped. By July 1954 the two sides had hammered out their differences and had an ARMISTICE treaty ready to go. And this was signed by the belligerents at the village of Panmunjom.
ARMISTICE NOT a Peace Treaty
This is why I made such a point referring the end of the Korean War as being complete, but inconclusive. The combat has long since stopped, and we can all be thankful for that. But an “Armistice” refers just to a cessation of hostilities, not a formal state of peace brought about by thee surrender of one side to the other.. And an armistice is all we have with North Korea. And whatever one can say about communism -vs- capitalism, one has only to look at the bright vibrant economy of the South Korea -vs- the misery, slavery, and “let’s threaten the world with nukes” attitude of the “Dear Leader” in charge of North Korea, to have a clear answer about whether the Korean War was worth he trouble. It CERTAINLY was!
“Truman” by David Mc Cullough, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1992.