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70 Years since End of Korean War

End of Korean War 27th July 1953

End of Korean War as armistice was signed 27th July 1953

End of Korean War 27th July 1953
General Mark W. Clark, Far East commander, signs the Korean armistice agreement on 27th July 1953, after two years of negotiation. Photo: U.S. Navy Museum / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image. Cropped

On 27th July 1953, 70 years ago, the armistice was signed that ended the bloody and brutal Korean War. But the “end of Korean War” meant simply that the weapons were laid down; the hostility between the two states – North and South Korea – has continued ever since.

The divided Korean peninsula is a micro version of the Cold War world, which was divided into two power blocs, one democratic and one communist. The worldwide confrontation between these two camps is at its most intense in the Demilitarized Zone, which separates North and South Korea. The zone is considered one of the world’s most tense areas.

We also understand the intensity of the confrontation through the total isolation that exists today between North and South Korea. No passenger traffic between the two states is possible. There is no trade, telephone or postal connection. From 1953 to the present, the two states have accused each other of more than 200,000 violations of the ceasefire agreement.

According to the Unification Principles, Korea is a chosen country, which God truly loves dearly. He therefore prepared the Korean people throughout history so that they could receive the Messiah at his second coming. For that reason, evil forces have done their utmost to destroy the foundation God so painstakingly built up in Korea.

Kim Il-sung signing the armistice agreement ending the Korean War in 1953. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image

This is the internal reason why Japan tried to completely destroy Korean culture and japanize the country. The Koreans had to take Japanese names. It was forbidden to teach in Korean. The Koreans had to worship the Japanese Shinto gods. Thousands of innocent young Korean women were forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese army.

Not only that, as soon as Korea was freed from Japanese imperialism, evil forces attacked the country with a new evil – God-denying, totalitarian, materialistic communism. North Korea was the most religious part of the peninsula. Pyongyang was called the “Jerusalem of the East”.

It was also here that both Sun Myung Moon and his wife Hak Ja Han were born. However, the communists have completely eradicated religion from North Korea. Many other countries were communist, yet the evil forces did not manage to eradicate religion in any of them, the way the regime has managed to do in North Korea.

The North Korean communists wanted to introduce the same system in South Korea as well, and would have succeeded already in 1950, if the democratic world – representing God‘s side in the fight against communism – had not come to the rescue of South Korea in an incredible way. The Soviet Union could have used its veto power in the Security Council and stopped the entire UN resolution. However, God knows why that didn’t happen.

From an attack on Heungnam in 1950. USS Begor in front. Photo: U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image. Cropped

The UN troops came to the defence of South Korea. In addition, they also freed Sun Myung Moon. In April 1948, he had been sentenced to five years of hard labor in a concentration camp in North Korea. He had already served two and a half years when the UN forces bombed Heungnam, the industrial area where this death camp was located. The guards fled, and Sun Myung Moon was able to walk out a free man on 14th October 1950.

He had survived a hell, where most prisoners died within six months. In a liberated North Korea, it was also possible for him to get to South Korea. He was one of the last to leave the North Korean capital before the Chinese captured it.

Sun Myung Moon walked the long way from Pyongyang to the southern coast of the peninsula on foot with two of his disciples. From Busan, as a refugee, he began again to build what eventually became a worldwide movement.

How then had Korea been divided? At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, Roosevelt invited Stalin to help fight Japan in the Far East. Stalin promised to join two or three months after Germany’s capitulation. Germany capitulated on all fronts on 7th May.

From the conference in Potsdam, Germany July 1945. From left to right: British Prime Minister Clement Atlee; U.S. President Harry S. Truman; Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. Photo: Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image. Cropped

At the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, American military leaders still encouraged the Soviet Union to take part in the war against Japan. Nevertheless, Stalin did not declare war on Japan until 8th August, two days after an atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. The next day, Soviet forces entered Manchuria and also landed on the north-eastern tip of Korea the same day.

This was just before Japan nevertheless surrendered (15th August). Therefore, the Soviet Union’s involvement in Japan’s defeat was minimal. However, the result of the Soviet Union’s participation was a divided Korea.

The Americans had not planned what would happen to Korea, even as the war against Japan entered its final phase. However, they had repeatedly encouraged Stalin to join and fight Japan. The Soviet Union declared war on Japan just days before Japan’s surrender. The Soviet army advanced rapidly on Korean soil, so that the Americans got worried that Stalin would take the entire peninsula. If so, the US would lose this strategically important part of the Asian mainland.

Therefore, the US had to quickly make a plan for Japan’s surrender in Korea. The advisers saw that the 38th parallel divided the country into two roughly equal parts. They proposed that the Soviet Union should deal with Japan’s surrender north of the 38th parallel. The United States were to do the same south of this line.

Stalin agreed to this. The Americans did not intend for this dividing line to become permanent. The division had, however, disastrous consequences, as most food production took place in the south, while the majority of the industry and power production were based in the north.

Soon after the Japanese had surrendered, the United States proposed free elections under the auspices of the United Nations. However, the Russians did not agree. They instead set up their own government in the north with Kim Il-sung as leader.

Syngman Rhee in 1956. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image

Syngman Rhee became president in the south after elections under UN auspices there in 1948. The Soviet Union withdrew its forces from North Korea the same year, while the United States withdrew its forces from South Korea the following year.

When the armistice agreement ending the Korean War was signed on 27th July 1953, it was no longer the 38th parallel that divided North and South Korea. The current border is far from a straight line. Parts of it run south of, parts north of, the 38th parallel.

Dean G. Acheson, U.S. Secretary of State, Jan. 1949 to Jan. 1953. Photo: U.S. Dept. of State / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image

From the very beginning, the Pyongyang regime aimed to conquer South Korea. On 12th January 1950, US Secretary of State Dean Acheson gave a speech in which he said that Korea fell outside the US defense line in the Pacific region. North Korea, the Soviet Union and China all saw this as an invitation to take South Korea.

Early on a Sunday morning, 25th June 1950, North Korea attacked an unprepared South Korea, without warning and without declaring war. The North Korean army was heavily armed and equipped with Russian T-3 armored personnel carriers. South Korea was militarily inferior. Seoul fell after three days.

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The South Korean forces were driven to the very south of the country, where they managed to hold a zone around Busan, Korea’s most important port city. South Korea asked the UN for help, and the Security Council decided to ask UN member states to provide military support to South Korea.

16 countries sent troops – United States, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand, Greece, the Netherlands, Ethiopia, Colombia, the Philippines, Belgium, and Luxembourg. In addition, five countries – India, Italy, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden – contributed with hospitals and medical staff.

At the time, the Soviet Union boycotted the UN Security Council meetings as a protest against communist China not being allowed to be a member of the UN. If Moscow had not done so, it would almost certainly have used its veto.

The Americans now quickly sent troops into the zone around Busan. General Douglas MacArthur was appointed as head of the UN forces. He soon launched a counteroffensive.

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The Communists were attacked from the south, at the same time as MacArthur surprisingly landed troops at Incheon on the west coast after a daring amphibious landing there on 15th September. He managed to cut the North Korean supply lines. Seoul was captured, and after a month, on 26th October, UN forces stood at the Yalu River, North Korea’s border with China.

However, Mao came to North Korea’s rescue. The Chinese were poorly armed, but there were so many of them – 250,000 so-called “volunteers” initially, within months more than one million had come – that the UN forces had to retreat south. Seoul fell again on 4th January 1951.

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President Truman wanted to limit the hostilities and advocated the UN finding a political solution. MacArthur instead wanted to expand the war and attack China, as it was Mao who had intervened when the war appeared to be over, after UN forces had captured all of North Korea. MacArthur therefore wanted to bomb China and implement a naval blockade.

Fearing a third World War, Truman dismissed MacArthur on 11th April 1951. He was replaced by General Matthew B. Ridgeway. The UN had recaptured the capital on 12th March that year and driven the communist forces back across the 38th parallel. UN forces repulsed two Chinese spring offensives. A stalemate then developed.

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The Russians asked for armistice negotiations. These began on 10th July 1951, but soon stalled and did not resume until after Stalin’s death in March 1953. The armistice, which also ended the war, was signed on 27th July 1953. A 4 km wide demilitarized zone was established along what became the border between north and south.

Korea was completely destroyed by the war. Almost two million people had been killed. Before that, forty years of Japanese occupation had impoverished the country.

Featured image above: UN delegate Lieut. Gen. William K. Harrison, Jr. (seated left), and Korean People’s Army and Chinese People’s Volunteers delegate Gen. Nam Il (seated right) signing the Korean War armistice agreement at Panmunjom, Korea, 27th July 1953. Photo: U.S. Department of Defense (F. Kazukaitis. U.S. Navy) / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image

“70 Years since End of Korean War” – Text: Knut Holdhus


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