July 27, 1953: The Korean War ends.

After three years of hostilities between North Korea (and its primary allies China and the Soviet Union) and South Korea (and its primary allies the United States and other nations of the U.N.), an armistice ended this early conflict of the Cold War. The South Korean side suffered a total of approximately 180,000 combatants killed, while the North Korea and its allies lost between 300,000 and 700,000. The total number of civilians killed during the conflict was massive as well - an estimated 1,500,000 - and many monstrous (but comparatively little-known) atrocities were committed by forces on both sides as well. The Korean War is often described as a “forgotten” war because of the greater attention paid to the larger conflicts that took place before and after it.

The armistice was, accordingly, not any sort of dramatic resolution. It established the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) across the peninsula, crossing the 38th parallel, which once served as the dividing line between North and South Korea. It issued a ceasefire, which was grudgingly accepted by South Korean president Syngman Rhee, and settled the issue of the prisoner of war repatriation. But it was intended to, according to its preamble:

[establish] an armistice which will insure a a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed forces in Korea until a peaceful settlement is achieved….

No final, formal peace settlement was ever achieved. The shaky settlement that was achieved was likely accomplished in part due to the United States’ hints that it would not rule out using nuclear weapons to bring about an end to the stalemated conflict.

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