Quick Facts on the Korean War

Korean Veterans Memorial; Washington, District of Columbia, USA
Korean Veterans Memorial in Washington, District of Columbia, USA. Robert J. Polett / Getty Images

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


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


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:

  • 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)
  • 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:


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Szczepanski, Kallie. "Quick Facts on the Korean War." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/facts-korean-war-quick-guide-195745. Szczepanski, Kallie. (2020, August 27). Quick Facts on the Korean War. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/facts-korean-war-quick-guide-195745 Szczepanski, Kallie. "Quick Facts on the Korean War." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/facts-korean-war-quick-guide-195745 (accessed March 26, 2023).