Korean War was the first war which required the United Nations Organisation to flex its muscles. As many as 16 countries had dispatched military aid to South Korea in terms of troops and there were 41 nations which assisted South Korea with equipment and other aid. China was one of the allies who fought for South Korea. Equipment aid was sent by the Soviet Union. Around 90% of the foreign troops that participated in the war were from the US.
The war also holds the distinction of being the first war that saw battle between jet aircraft. The approximate cost of war for US was around $67 billion. Reported statistics on the death toll of the war in terms of human lives was estimated to be 54,246 until June 2000. It was in the same year that Pentagon observed a clerical error in the death toll that led to the inclusion of deaths outside Korean War in Korean War figures. More than 7,500 US troops still remain unaccounted for ever since the Koran War ended.
The truce talks continued for as long as 2 years and 17 days and since there was never a peace treaty that was concluded, Korean War can be said to have not ended’ technically.
Following are the statistics held with US Dept. Of Defense on U.S. Troops:
· Non-Hostile: 2,835
· Hostile: 33,739
· Total In-Theatre: 36,574
Wounded in Action: 103,284
Other countries also suffered heavy loss of men and material. South Korea lost 217,000 military men and 1,000,000 civilians. North Korean losses were even greater in terms of military personnel at 406,000. 600,000 civilians are also reported missing or dead. The closest ally, China suffered maximum military casualties losing 600,000 personnel.
Timeline of the War:
The United Nations General Assembly gives approval to elections in the entire country of Korea to select their provisional government. This move of the UN is vehemently opposed by the Soviet Union.
May 10, 1948:
Nearly five and a half months later, while South Koreans elect a national assembly, the North Koreans remain detached from the election process. However, the assembly sets up the government in Republic of Korea.
Sep 9, 1948:
North Korean nationals go separate ways to set up their own Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
June 25, 1950:
The unusual setup continues for nearly 20 months until North Korea decides to be the aggressor and move troops of the North Korean People’s Army, estimated close to 135,000 in number, beyond the 38th parallel with an intention to invade ROK or Republic of Korea established by South Korea.
The same day, UN deplores the commencement of hostilities by North Korea and calls for a cease fire which necessitated the withdrawal of North Korean troops to the 38th parallel.
June 26, 1950:
Within a day, the then US President Harry Truman decides to assist ROKA (Republic of Korea Army) and evacuate American nationals from the war torn country. He directs General Douglas to carry out both the tasks.
June 30, 1950:
US troops swing into action on the orders of the President.
The very first month of US action in Korea witnesses heavy civilian bloodbath when US soldiers kill several civilians in a village called No Gun Ri. Whether the soldiers were asked to open fire at civilians or they acted on their own still remains shrouded in mystery.
July 5, 1950:
US troops move into Osan, 30 miles south of Seoul. This was the first time they had been to battle ever since the culmination of Second World War. Private Kenneth Shadrick became the first US casualty in the Korean War.
June 23, 1951:
Nearly a year later, a Soviet delegate to the UN, Mr Jacob Malik proposes a ceasefire.
July 10, 1951:
Truce talks commence at Kaesong in July and their location is changed to Panmunjom on Oct 25.
Nov 27, 1951:
Both the warring sides arrive at a common solution to end the war. They agree on making the existing battle lines the final line of division between the sides if a truce could be concluded in 30 days time.
After nearly 10 months into the talks, truce proceedings come across a deadlock on the issue of “voluntary repatriation” of soldiers.
Oct 8, 1952
Truce talks get adjourned indefinitely.
Apr 26, 1953:
Truce talks begin after the Communists agree to the contention over which the talks had halted.
Jul 27, 1953:
While the hostilities were ceased within 12 hours of the drafting of “armistice agreement” signed by Chinese People’s Volunteers, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and The UN; South Korea refuses to agree and sign it.
The armistice mandated both the sides to create a demilitarized zone and both the sides to remain at 2,200 yards from a centre point in the demilitarized zone. Both the sides can patrol the zone.
The years that followed saw remains of Korean War soldiers being recovered, their last set being identified by the US in 2014.
Here is a year-wise breakdown:
Remains of 208 American troops are recovered.
UN receives four sets of remains of US troops. They are given Honour Guard’ in Panmunjon.
Remains of 26 US troops listed in the “missing in action” list are identified.
40 more US servicemen remains are identified.
15 US servicemen remains listed under “missing in action” are identified.
Jun 2013-Apr 2014:
49 more US servicemen are identified.