Korean War, 1950-Present

24th ID in Korea

Tash Force Smith of the 24th Infantry Division arriving at the railway station in Taejon, Korea

Sixty years long as of yesterday. VOA notes ongoing hostilities. Memo to people who think the Afghan war is our longest yet.* It isn’t.

Nor have deaths of soldiers and civilians ended since the 1953 “ceasefire.” The sinking of the South Korean naval vessel is the most recent example. There have also been at least 700 Americans killed by hostile action since 1953 … shot down, killed in cross-DMZ raids and sniping, even hacked to death with axes … and more than 800 in non-hostile incidents, according to the Korean War Educator.

Other ramifications of the acceptance of stalemate and failure to end the war include massive generational trauma on the Korean people, millions of whom remain enslaved, and face deprivation, starvation and torture as a matter of course, while citizens of surrounding nations are regularly menaced by hostile actions that have included abduction and provocative acts such as missile overflights. North Korea also is suspected of supplying missile and nuclear technology to hostile states such as Syria and Iran. Given how astonishingly productive South Korea has become in the shadow of the North Korean threat, you have to wonder what kind of powerhouse a united peninsula might have been. Unfortunately, the degree of psychological and physical injury inflicted on the 24 million Koreans who live in the North is such that it is only fair to assume Korea will remain a wounded animal for decades after the removal of its current murderous regime and any hypothetical reunification.

It’s all worth considering as Americans mull another stalemate and/or quick exit in a considerably less bloody conflict, plus the practicalities of attempting to box in assorted dangerous adversaries, to include state and non-state actors. Nothing just ends. Not without consequences, which can sometimes be long enduring and often quite serious and costly, in both blood and treasure.
Re the actual shooting war, here’s the Korean War wiki, which accurately dates the war June 25 1950-present, and places the dead at roughly 4.5-to-5 million military and civilian, both sides, the U.S. military dead count being 36,516.

* Mournful, politically motivated proclamations of the Afghan War as our longest yet usually fail to note that, for roughly half of the past nine years, it was largely quiet, much like Korea has been for long stretches.

Posted on 26 Jun 2010
Crossposted at http://www.julescrittenden.com

Photo: flickr/soldiermediacenter

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One thought on “Korean War, 1950-Present

  1. Eric says:

    True, DPRK is bad, but don't diminish what our troops accomplished in holding the ROK. South Korea since the Korean War is an example of not being able to judge a war in the short term. The Korean War was brutal, destructive, ravaging a land and people already impoverished and war-torn. Most Americans born since the baby boom use the Vietnam War as the yardstick for how bad a war can get – well, the Korean War was worse. Many of our soldiers came home from the Korean War – the “forgotten war” – scarred, disillusioned, wondering what it was all for, and without hope for the devastated land they left behind. But the important thing was our soldiers held South Korea. They preserved it for the transformation that has happened there, with our help and protection, in the decades since the war. One of my most uplifting experiences in the Army was, in 2000, witnessing Korean War veterans returning to South Korea for the first time since the war and crying as they saw what the country had become because of their sacrifice. Better if we had held north Korea, but at least we didn't abandon allies who depended on us. Later, we failed to hold South Vietnam. We've held Iraq so far. It remains to be seen whether we'll hold Afghanistan.

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