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The Korean War was a military conflict between the Republic of Korea, supported by the United Nations, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and People’s Republic of China (PRC), with air support from the Soviet Union. The war began on 25 June 1950 and an armistice was signed on 27 July 1953. The war was a result of the political division of Korea by agreement of the victorious Allies at the conclusion of the Pacific War. The Korean peninsula had been ruled by Japan from 1910 until the end of World War II. In 1945, following the surrender of Japan, American administrators divided the peninsula along the 38th Parallel, with United States troops occupying the southern part and Soviet troops occupying the northern part.
The failure to hold free elections throughout the Korean Peninsula in 1948 deepened the division between the two sides, and the North established a Communist government. The 38th Parallel increasingly became a political border between the two Koreas. Although reunification negotiations continued in the months preceding the war, tension intensified. Cross-border skirmishes and raids at the 38th Parallel persisted. The situation escalated into open warfare when North Korean forces invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950. It was the first significant armed conflict of the Cold War.
Korean War Causality Lists
- Korean War Casualty List
The National Archives and Records Administration prepared these Korean War casualty lists by creating extracts from the military casualty data files in the Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Record Group 330). The lists are based on the "home of record - state" data provided by the serviceman or woman upon last entrance into military service. "Home of record" does not necessarily refer to the place of birth, residence of next of kin, place of longest residence, or other common uses of the term "hometown."
Online Military Records
- Korean War Timeline (hosted at Fighting Fifteenth)
- US Enters the Korean Conflict (hosted at National Archives)
- The Forgotten War (hosted at St. Petersburg Times)
- The Korean War
- Merchant Marine in the Korean War (hosted at American Merchant Marine at War)
- United States Army in the Korean War (hosted at US Army Center of Military History)
- Korean Conflict Records (hosted at Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission)
- USGenWeb Archives (Some have Korean War Causality Lists)
Secrets of War: The Korean Conflict – Material from the Korean War that has been obscured for decades is examined in these two episodes from the Secrets of War series from the History Channel. The first program, “Behind the Bamboo Curtain,” examines the complicated dealings among three dictators (Stalin of the Soviet Union, Mao of China, and Kim of North Korea) that led to the Korean War. Telegrams that passed between the leaders have been unearthed in Russian archives, and they provide valuable insight into the machinations that unleashed the North Korean invasion of South Korea and prompted the United States and its allies to respond with force.
Military Subscription Databases
- Korean War Casualties, 1950-1957
- Korean War Prisoners of War, 1950-1954
- World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas