for other conflicts and wars involving korea, see list of korean battles. for the conflict from wwii to the present, see korean conflict.
1950–1953 war between north and south korea
korean war in south korea: (한국전쟁, 6·25 전쟁) in north korea: (조국해방전쟁)
part of the cold war and the korean conflict
clockwise from top: a column of the u.s. 1st marine division's infantry and armor moves through chinese lines during their breakout from the chosin reservoir • un landing at incheon harbor, starting point of the battle of incheon • korean refugees in front of a u.s. m46 patton tank • u.s. marines, led by first lieutenant baldomero lopez, landing at incheon • f-86 sabrefighter aircraft
25 june 1950 – 27 july 1953[note 1] (3 years, 1 month and 2 days)
korean peninsula, yellow sea, sea of japan, korea strait, china–north korea border
north korean invasion of south korea repelled
subsequent u.s.-led united nations invasion of north korea repelled
subsequent chinese and north korean invasion of south korea halted
korean armistice agreement signed in 1953
korean conflict ongoing
korean demilitarized zone established
north korea gains city of kaesong but loses a net total of 3,900 km2 (1,500 sq mi) to south korea.
south koreaunited nations[a]
commanders and leaders
harry s. truman
dwight d. eisenhower
robert a. lovett
mark w. clark
total: 2,970,000 72,000
casualties and losses
total dead and missing: 178,405 dead and 32,925 missing (162,394 south koreans, 44,499 americans, 3,867 others) total wounded: 566,434
south korea: 137,899 dead 450,742 wounded 24,495 mia 8,343 pow
united states: 36,574–54,246 dead (33,629 kia) 103,284 wounded 7,926 mia 4,714 pow
united kingdom: 1,109 dead 2,674 wounded 179 mia 977 pow
turkey: 741 dead 2,068 wounded 163 mia 244 pow
australia: 339 dead 1,216 wounded 43 mia 26 pow
france: 262 dead 1,008 wounded 7 mia 12 pow
greece 192 dead 543 wounded 3 pow
colombia: 163 dead 448 wounded 28 pow
thailand: 129 dead 1,139 wounded 5 mia
ethiopia 121 dead 536 wounded
netherlands: 122 dead 645 wounded 3 mia
belgium: 101 dead 478 wounded 5 mia 1 pow
philippines: 92 dead 299 wounded 97 mia/pow
japan: 79 dead
south africa: 34 dead 9 pow
new zealand: 34 dead 299 wounded 1 mia/pow
norway: 3 dead
luxembourg: 2 dead 13 wounded
india: 1 dead
total dead and missing: 398,000–589,000 dead and 145,000+ missing (335,000-526,000 north koreans, 208,729 chinese, 299 others) total wounded: 686,500
north korea: 215,000–406,000 dead 303,000 wounded 120,000 mia or pow
china: (chinese sources): 183,108 dead 383,500 wounded 450,000 hospitalized 25,621 missing (those who defected or were captured were included in missing) 7,110 captured 14,190 defected (u.s. estimates): 400,000+ dead 486,000 wounded
soviet union: 299 dead 335 planes lost
total civilians killed: 2–3 million (est.)
south korea: 990,968 killed/wounded 373,599 killed 229,625 wounded 387,744 abducted/missing
north korea: 1,550,000 killed/wounded (est.)
north korean offensive (25 june – 15 september 1950)
1st naktong bulge
2nd naktong bulge
united nations command counteroffensive (15 september – 30 october 1950)
pusan perimeter offensive
un september 1950 counteroffensive
un offensive into north korea
12 october 1950
chinese intervention (25 october 1950 – january 1951)
second phase offensive
task force faith
un retreat from north korea
1st and 2nd wonju
fighting around the 38th parallel (january – june 1951)
un may–june 1951 counteroffensive
stalemate (july 1951 – 27 july 1953)
pork chop hill
berlin outposts and boulder city
korean armistice agreement
air operations (1950 – 1953)
bombing of north korea 1950-1953
naval operations (1950 – 1953)
naval engagements of the korean war
for further information, see also: korean war (template)
the korean war (in south korean korean: 한국전쟁; hanja: 韓國戰爭; rr: hanguk jeonjaeng, "korean war"; in north korean korean: 조국해방전쟁; hanja: 祖國解放戰爭; mr: choguk haebang chŏnjaeng, "fatherland liberation war"; 25 june 1950 – 27 july 1953)[b] was a war between north korea (with the support of china and the soviet union) and south korea (with the support of the united nations, principally from the united states). the war began on 25 june 1950 when north korea invaded south korea.
at the end of world war ii, the soviet union and the united states liberated korea from imperial japanesecolonial control on 15 august 1945. after the war had ended, korea was divided at the 38th parallel into two zones of occupation, the soviets administered the northern half and the americans administered the southern half. with the border set at the 38th parallel in 1948, two sovereign states were established as a result of geopolitical tensions of the cold war (between the soviet union and the united states). a socialist state was established in the north under the communist leadership of kim il-sung and a capitalist state in the south under the anti-communist leadership of syngman rhee. both governments of the two new korean states claimed to be the sole legitimate government of all of korea, and neither accepted the border as permanent.
the conflict escalated into warfare when north korean military (korean people's army, kpa) forces—supported by the soviet union and china—crossed the border and advanced into south korea on 25 june 1950. the united nations security council authorized the formation of the united nations command and the dispatch of forces to korea to repel what was recognized as a north korean invasion. twenty-one countries of the united nations eventually contributed to the un force, with the united states providing around 90% of the military personnel.
after the first two months of war, south korean army (roka) and the us forces rapidly dispatched to korea were on the point of defeat. as a result, the roka and us troops retreated to a small area behind a defensive line known as the pusan perimeter. in september 1950, an amphibious un counter-offensive was launched at incheon, and cut off many kpa troops 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 surprise chinese intervention triggered a retreat of un forces back below the 38th parallel by late december.
in these and subsequent battles, seoul changed hands four times, and the last two years of fighting became a war of attrition, with the front line close to the 38th parallel. the war in the air, however, was never a stalemate. north korea was subject to a massive u.s. bombing campaign. jet 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. in april 2018, the leaders of north and south korea met at the dmz and agreed to work towards a treaty to formally end the korean war.
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 korean command. north korea became among the most heavily-bombed countries in history.
China: (Chinese sources): 183,108 dead 383,500 wounded 450,000 hospitalized 25,621 missing (Those who defected or were captured were included in missing) 7,110 captured 14,190 defected (U.S. estimates): 400,000+ dead 486,000 wounded
The conflict escalated into warfare when North Korean military (Korean People's Army, KPA) forces—supported by the Soviet Union and China—crossed the border and advanced into South Korea on 25 June 1950. The United Nations Security Council authorized the formation of the United Nations Command and the dispatch of forces to Korea to repel what was recognized as a North Korean invasion. Twenty-one countries of the United Nations eventually contributed to the UN force, with the United States providing around 90% of the military personnel.
In these and subsequent battles, Seoul changed hands four times, and the last two years of fighting became a war of attrition, with the front line close to the 38th Parallel. The war in the air, however, was never a stalemate. North Korea was subject to a massive U.S. bombing campaign. Jet 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. In April 2018, the leaders of North and South Korea met at the DMZ and agreed to work towards a treaty to formally end the Korean War.