June 25, 1950 - North Korean troops sweep across the 38th Parallel invading South Korea and beginning the Korean War. In the waning days World War II, the United States and Soviet Union divided the Korean Peninsula at the 38th Parallel, with each to occupy a half after the war. Following the surrender of Japan, each nation cultivated a Korean government sympathetic to their political system, with the ultimate goal of uniting Korea under a favorable administration.
With Soviet support, the North Koreans, led by Kim Il-Sung, sought to reunite the nation by force and launched a massive offensive on June 25, 1950. This attack quickly overran the South, forcing its army to retreat to a small perimeter around the port of Pusan. Following a resolution by the United Nations, the United States led the effort to drive back the Communists. Landing at Inchon and breaking out of the "Pusan Perimeter" in September 1950, UN forces (above right) pushed the North Koreans back to the Chinese border. As UN troops approached the Yalu River in November, the Chinese entered the war by attacking with 270,000 men. After driving UN forces south past Seoul, the Chinese were finally stopped below the capital. Over the next two and a half years, UN troops were able to liberate Seoul before the front stabilized just north of the 38th parallel. The war was ended on July 27, 1953, by an armistice which is still in place today.
Photograph Courtesy of the US Naval Historical Center