Korean War

During the early part of the 1900s, Japan seized control of Korea. Japan kept control of its Korean neighbor for over 35 years with often harsh policies and an attempt to eradicate Korean culture in favor of Japanese ideas and ways. As the end of World War II drew to a close, the allied leadership promised the Korean people that after Japan was defeated, Korea would be able to regain its independence. However, the former Soviet Union shared a border with Korea, and the USSR wanted a to expand into Korea themselves. So the USSR communist regime under Joseph Stalin declared war on Korea and invaded it just shortly before Japan surrendered to the United States.

After the World War II surrender, Japanese troops did not immediately leave Korea. So United States officials met with the officials of the USSR to decide on how to remove Japanese troops from Korea. The United States agreed to Soviet occupation of the northern part of Korea with the U.S. occupying the southern part. The dividing line was the 38th parallel of north latitude. The southern part was called the Republic of Korea and the northern portion the People's Democratic Republic of Korea.

Efforts to reunify Korea failed. North Korean forces invaded South Korea in 1950 and President Harry Truman authorized the use of American land, sea, and air forces in Korea to defend South Korea. Shortly thereafter, 15 other nations that belonged to the United Nations joined the U.S. in fighting the North Koreans.

Sample some of the following activities to learn more about the Korean War.


Places To Go    People To See    Things To Do    Teacher Resources    Bibliography

Places To Go

The following are places to go (some real and some virtual) to find out about the Korean War..

Korea: The Land of the Morning Calm
Find out why Korea has had many different names.
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Come see the National War Memorial in Washington D.C.
Korean War Project - Maps
Visit Korea via this collection of maps that detail the country and the military offensives.


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People To See

CNN Interactive: Families of U.S. Korean War MIAs to meet with North Koreans
Meet some families whose sons or daughters are still missing in action from the Korean War and learn about their efforts to work with the North Korean government.
Douglas MacArthur
President Harry Truman appointed General Douglas MacArthur as supreme commander in the Korean War. Read the text or listen to an audio file of his farewell speech to Congress where he said, "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away." Visit his gravesite in Norfolk, Virginia.
Eyewitness: A North Korean Remembers
This site features a perspective on the events surrounding the Korean War from the point of view of a North Korean. Young Sik Kim's account of his childhood (1935-1955), which is published on this site, is arranged chronologically. His memoir describes Japan, the Soviet Union, and America's occupation of North Korea.
Korean War
Remember the casualties of the Korean War which included over 4.5 million civilians.
The Korean War: An Overview
Discover the worldwide participants in the Korean War.

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Things To Do

Kilroy Was Here
Read personal remembrances of Korean War veterans.
The Korean War
American troops were not the men and women involved in the Korean War. Learn about the United Nations forces from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Luxembourg, as well as other countries.
The Korean War, June 1950 - July 1953
Learn about the history of the war, see images, and read personal accounts of the men and women involved.
Korean War Project
Find information about the history of the Korean War, a timeline of the events, a guide to the artillery that was part of the war, information about the military units, photographs, and more.
Taking Sides: M*A*S*H & the Struggle of Life Against Death
Remember the popular television program M*A*S*H which was about the Korean War. The program ran from 1972 to 1983.
U.S. Navy Ships: Sunk & Damaged in Action during the Korean Conflict
The United States ships that were sunk in the Korean War were not sunk by big guns or aircraft. Find out what method the Korean army used to damage US war ships.

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Teacher Resources

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  • Bachrach, Deborah. Korean War. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, c1991.  
  • Gay, Kathlyn. Korean War. New York: Twenty-first Century Books, 1996.
  • Green, Carl R. The Korean War Soldier at Heartbreak Ridge.Mankato, MN, U.S.A.: Capstone Press; Chicago: Distributed by Childrens Press, c1991.
  • Isserman, Maurice. The Korean War: America at War. New York: Facts on File, c1992.
  • McGowen, Tom. The Korean War. New York: Franklin Watts, c1992.
  • Smith, C. Carter. The Korean War. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Silver Burdett Press, c1990.
  • Stein, R. Conrad. The Korean War: The Forgotten War. Hillside, N.J. : Enslow Publishers, c1994.