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June Wed 27, 2012
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Exactly 62 years ago today, President Harry S. Truman ordered U.S. troops in Korea, starting the Korean War, which would last from June 27, 1950 to July 27 1953, when the armistice was signed that established the boundaries between North and South Korea that still exist today.Korea had already been divided along the current line, the 38th parallel since near the end of World War II. The Soviet Union occupied the northern part, while the United States occupied the south. After the War, the United States, Britain and other countries wanted to hold elections in Korea, but the Soviet Union was opposed, tensions escalated and the elections were never held. Skirmishes and raids continued on the border up until the outbreak of war.The hostilities actually began two days earlier, June 25, when troops from Communist North Korea invaded the democratic South. They caught the southern forces off guard and forced a retreat. The South Koreans were pushed into a small area in the south of the peninsula. The UN Security Council held a meeting and, since the Soviet Union was boycotting the movement, passed a resolution that called for a cessation of hostilities in Korea, approving military intervention to achieve this end.President Truman defended his move to send U.S. troops to Korea with the argument that intervention was necessary to prevent a free nation from being taken over by Communism. It was highly approved of in the climate of fear of the spread of Communism, despite the risk that the war could have led to open war with Russia. In fact, the Soviet Union provided arms and supplies to the North Koreans throughout the conflict.At the beginning of the war, the troops were able to push the North Koreans back across the 38th parallel and even further, up to the Yalu River in the north. The offensive was halted, however, by the entrance of the People’s Republic of China on the side of the North Koreans. After the UN coalition was once again pushed back to the 38th parallel, the armistice was signed, returning the borders to those of before the war and established the Korean Demilitarized Zone, the buffer zone between the two nations. Violence and tensions continue today.See photos of the Korea War starting on the next page.
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