History of War



Korean War: Overview

Korean War Statistics

American military deaths: 36,000

South Korean military deaths: 415,000

Estimated Chinese and North Korean military deaths: 1,500,000

Peak American troop strength: 326,863

Peak Chinese troop strength: 1,350,000

Total civilians killed/wounded: Estimated 2.5 million

South Korean civilians killed/wounded: 990,968

South Korean civilians abducted/missing: 387,744

North Korean civilians killed/wounded: Estimated 1,550,000

Poltical Context

Since 1910, Korea had been ruled by Japan all the way through both world wars until Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers in 1945. As part of their wartime agreement, the US occupied the Southern state of Korea, while the Soviet occupied the North. By 1948, two separate governments were in place, both claiming rule over the country. Neither side considered the temporary border that was in place to be permanent, either. The conflict quickly escalated when North Korean troops, supported by the Soviets and the Chinese, invaded South Korea. Ruling this to be an unwarranted act of aggression, the UN-led by the American military stepped in to aid the South Koreans.

After dragging on for three years with the capital of Seoul changing hands four times, the Korean War was finally resolved with an armistice agreement and the establishment of a de-militarized zone. The two countries are still separated and have become increasingly polarized politically. South Korea is a democratic state and a free trade partner with the European Union, while North Korea has shut itself away from globalization and has had an autocratic government with the same bloodline in place, since Kim Il-Sung took control of the country from the Japanese in 1948.

Korean War 38 Parallel bridge


Nations Involved

South Korea:

South Korean flag US Flag    
South Korea United States    

North Korea:

North Korean Flag Soviet Flag Chinese Flag
North Korea Soviet Union People's Republic of China  


Key Players


South Korean/American Leaders:

Syngman Rhee Harry Truman Douglas MacArthur  
Syngman Rhee Harry S. Truman Douglas MacArther  
South Korean President (1948-1960) American President
UN Commander in Korea


North Korean/Soviet/Chinese Leaders:

Kim Il Sung Chairman Mao Stalin Nikita Khrushchev
Kim Il-Sung Mao Zedong Joseph Stalin Nikita Khrushchev
North Korean
Supreme Leader
First Chairman of the Communist Party of China (1945-1976) Premier of the Soviet Union (1922-1952) Premier of the Soviet Union (1953-1964)