Did the Korean War ever really end?

Today marks the 64th anniversary of the start of the Korean War: June 25, 1950.

On that day, the army of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea attacked south and initially routed the army of the Republic of Korea. The Korean War was the first conflagration between the expansion of communism against western democracy. It began a series of proxy engagements between the Soviet Union and the free world. Korea was a far and distant place, and the United States had pretty much demobilized its military forces, while at the same time the Soviet Union was doing the exact opposite.

The initial American forces deployed to Korea, but Task Force Smith was ill equipped and was overrun by the North Korean army. American and South Korean forces were pushed back into what became known as the Pusan Perimeter.

It was there courage and heroism shined brightly. And with the holding of the perimeter, came a brilliant operational maneuver, the Inchon Landing. American forces were able to land behind the enemy and cut them off. Seoul was retaken. Allied forces then pushed deeper into North Korea and Pyongyang fell. But as the American forces pushed further north toward the Yalu river, the Chinese Army became committed and resolute.

Once again American heroism came through at a place called the Chosin Reservoir where U.S. Marine Corps General Oliver P. Smith famously stated, “Retreat? Hell, we’re just attacking in another direction.” And Marine Corps legend Lewis “Chesty” Puller stated, “Don’t forget you’re First Marines! Not all the Communists in hell can overrun you!”

The Chinese pushed the allied forces back and the combating forces fought back and forth along the hilltops of the country. In the end, the Korean War was settled along the 38th parallel by an Armistice in 1953. The war is considered to have ended at this point, even though there was no peace treaty.

Less than a decade after the end of World War II there had been a new combat engagement based upon two conflicting ideologies. The Korean War was a limited war, and thus had limited results, which still echo today.

I was stationed there in 1995, and the opportunity to see the battle sites and study the history was an unforgettable experience. And of course, standing on the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), peering over and seeing the enemy — the North Korean army — is something emblazoned in my memory.

Some refer to the Korean War as the “Forgotten War.” That is hog wash. It is not and never shall be forgotten — especially the bravery demonstrated on the hills in that distant country.

So on this day, if you happen to be in Washington D.C., visit the Korean War Memorial, look into the faces of those statues and remember the stories of courage, valor, heroism in the first fight against communism.


  1. I served in the Korean War. I was on the USS Wisconsin and I did two tours to Korea. I recently was lent a book about South Korea. Many pictures show the affluence and modernity of that country. I am proud that I was part of the effort to prevent North Korea from overpowering South Korea. One can never let one’s guard down though. North Korea and its restrictive dictatorial government will always seek to find ways to seize the assets of South Korea.

    Sadly, just as in America, the youth of South Korea have no real sense of the struggle their forebears lived through to maintain their freedom and democracy. They resent America without having full understanding of the treasure we spent on their behalf.

    As to its being known as “The Forgotten War”, I can attest to the fact that even while it was being waged, even while our little neighborhood had young folks in it and had lost some of them, people did not know where Korea was, what it was and why we were fighting it. I came home on leave and was walking down the street when I encountered an older neighbor. When he greeted me and asked where I had been, I told him, “Korea” and he responded, “Oh that place I heard about on the news?”.

    At least we were not treated with scorn the way our girls and boys were during ‘Nam.

    • Thank You for your service.
      The was a cessation of the war but it never truly ended. If you were to ask Kim Jong-un he would tell you the war is still on going

  2. I was sent to S. Korea in Jan. 1967. I went over as a Combat Engineer, but was transferred to an Artillery post at St.Barbara just north of the 38 Th. We were not allowed to return any fire when fired on. Yes there were infiltrators that came down from the North. While there for a year, we saw where they tried to strike us 4 times, if it weren’t for the Rock Army. I’ve been sniped at myself and they try to kill GI’s. No, it’s not over yet.

  3. My uncle, Delbert Eugene Mulinex, was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. He was KIA 13 Sept 1950 near Sokchong Myan, Korea. No, that war is not forgotten. No, any war ended without a treaty is not over. And that includes the war of my generation, Viet Nam as well as Korea.

  4. L/C West, you never answered your question. The answer is clearly “NO”.

    There have been flare ups from time to time, N. Korean sappers in S. Korea for example, every since the cease fire.

  5. 2ID HHC JAG 1998-9. Second to None. Remember an old lady offering to give me their seat on a crowded bus. Such respect for our nation’s sacrifices. For the first time ever, I was proud of my Country! {just kidding}


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