Facts on the Korean War | A Quick Guide

Wounded Republic of Korea soldiers are tended by their fellows, July 28, 1950.
South Korean soldiers try to comfort their wounded comrades, July 28, 1950. National Archives / Truman Presidential Library

When

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950 and ended on July 27, 1953.

Where

The Korean War took place on the Korean Peninsula, initially in South Korea, and then later in North Korea as well.

Who

North Korean communist forces called the North Korean People's Army (KPA) under President Kim Il-Sung began the war. Mao Zedong's Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) and the Soviet Red Army joined later. Note - the majority of the soldiers in the People's Volunteer Army were not really volunteers.

On the other side, the South Korean Republic of Korea Army (ROK) joined forces with the United Nations. The UN force included troops from the United States (approx. 327,000), Great Britain (14,000), Canada (8,000), Turkey (5,500), Australia (2,300), Ethiopia (1,600), the Philippines (1,500), New Zealand (1,400), Thailand (1,300), Greece (1,250), France (1,200), Colombia (1,000), Belgium (900), South Africa (825), the Netherlands (800), Sweden (170), Norway (100), Denmark (100), Italy (70), India (70), and Luxembourg (45).

Maximum Troop Deployment

South Korea and UN: 972,214

North Korea, China, USSR: 1,642,000

Who Won the Korean War?

Neither side actually won the Korean War. In fact, the war goes on to this day, since the combatants never signed a peace treaty. South Korea did not even sign the Armistice agreement of July 27, 1953, and North Korea repudiated the armistice in 2013.

In terms of territory, the two Koreas returned essentially to their pre-war boundaries, with a demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing them roughly along the 38th parallel.

The civilians on each side truly lost the war, which resulted in millions of civilian deaths and economic devastation.

Total Estimated Casualties

South Korea and UN troops: 178,236 killed, 32,844 missing, 566,314 wounded.

North Korea, USSR, and Chinese troops: Numbers are unclear, but American estimates range from 367,000 to 750,000 killed, about 152,000 missing or taken prisoner and 686,500 to 789,000 wounded.

South Korean civilians: 373,599 killed, 229,625 wounded, and 387,744 missing

North Korean civilians: estimated 1,550,000 casualties

Total civilian deaths and injuries: approximately 2.5 million

Major Events and Turning Points

June 25, 1950: North Korea invades South Korea

June 28, 1950: North Korean forces capture southern capital, Seoul

June 30, 1950: US pledges troops to UN effort for defense of South Korea

Sept. 15, 1950: ROK and UN troops confined to Pusan Perimeter, launch counter-offensive Invasion of Inchon

Sept. 27, 1950: UN troops recapture Seoul

Oct. 9, 1950: ROK and UN troops drive KPA back across 38th Parallel, South Koreans and allies invade North Korea

Oct. 19, 1950: ROK and UN capture northern capital of Pyongyang

Oct. 26, 1950: South Korean and UN troops mass along Yalu River, the North Korea/China border

Oct. 27, 1950: China enters war on North Korean side, pushes UN/South Korean troops back

Nov. 27-30, 1950: Battle of Chosin Reservoir

Jan. 15, 1951: North Korean and Chinese troops retake Seoul

March 7 - April 4, 1951: Operation Ripper, ROK and UN push combined communist forces above 38th parallel again

March 18, 1951: UN forces recapture Seoul once more

July 10 - Aug. 23, 1951: Truce negotiations at Kaesong amidst continued bloody fighting

Nov. 27, 1951: 38th parallel set as line of demarcation

Throughout 1952: Bloody battles and trench warfare

April 23, 1953: Kaesong peace talks resume

July 27, 1953: UN, North Korea, and China sign armistice, ending fighting

More Information on the Korean War:

Detailed Timeline of the Korean War

Photographs from the Korean War

The Invasion of Incheon

Map of the Pusan Perimeter and the Invasion of Incheon

Movie Review of